Hilton Als: credit: Ali Smith

Hilton Als

The Pulitzer Prize–winner Hilton Als has been hailed as “exhilarating and audacious” (San Francisco Chronicle), “spectacular” (Bookforum), and “thoroughly wise” (Library Journal). He is a staff writer at The New Yorker and an Associate Professor at Columbia University School of the Arts. He lives in New York City.

Photo credit: Ali Smith

My Pinup

Literature by Hilton Als

In this brilliant two-part memoir, the Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Hilton Als distills into one cocktail the deep and potent complexities of love and of loss, of Prince and of power, of desire and of race. It’s delicious and it’s got the kick of a mule, especially as Als swirls into his mix the downtown queer nightclub scene, the AIDS crisis, Prince’s ass in his tight little pants, an ill-fated peach pie, Dorothy Parker, and his desire for true love.…
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In the fiction of László Krasznahorkai, man struggles to achieve infinity only to find madness as his consolation prize. In A Mountain to the North, a Lake to the South, Paths to the West, a River to the East, the pretty grandson of a prince seeks a mythical garden that haunts his every waking moment. His search leads him through a labyrinthine and seemingly abandoned monastery, whose astonishing beauty and inevitable decay the author painstakingly details. His work details a deeply deterministic worldview, in which suffering and sublimity are equally arbitrary conditions of existence. His prodigious sentences (translated from the Hungarian by faithful collaborator Ottilie Mulzet) are burdened with an accumulation of constitutive detail; they fold in, double back, and refract upon themselves, ever more quickly accelerating our attentions toward the anxieties of oblivion, which rapidly approaches but never seems to arrive.
—Alex Watkins, Vulture
My Pinup is smart, sensual writing on a life of loving Prince and on the life of Prince himself. Hilton Als’s Prince is a clear, Black, queer vixen; an idol whose lyrics and performance provide instructions for living — he also serves as frame, filter, and soundtrack for Als’s navigations of romance and heartbreak. This paean, an art object reminiscent of a chapbook or novella, goes down like a tiny fruit tart made from a keenly demarcated recipe: complex, ambrosian, and brief. For a moment you want more, but you’ve already been given enough. Fire and elegance abound in these intimate pages.
—Kyle Carrero Lopez, Vulture
In this slim and brilliant memoir, Als explores race, power, and desire through the lens of Prince. Styling the legendary musician in the image of his lovers and himself, Als explores injustice on multiple levels, from racist record labels to the world’s hostility to gay Black boys…These 48 meandering pages are difficult to describe, but trust us: My Pinup is a heady cocktail you won’t soon forget.
A tale of a brief encounter and long obsession with the late musical icon Prince. Undeniably engrossing.
Als is a fine, piercing observer and interpreter, a writer of lashing exactitude and veracity.
—Donna Seaman, Booklist
Als is one of the most consistently unpredictable and surprising essayists out there, an author who confounds our expectations virtually every time he writes: Magnificent.
—David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times
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