I Sing to Use the Waiting (FORTHCOMING)
a collection of essays by
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This book will be released on January 23, 2024.
I Sing to Use the Waiting: A Collection of Essays about the Women Singers Who've Made Me Who I Am is a vital and affecting reflection on how popular culture can shape personal identity.
With remarkable grace, candor, and a poet’s ear for prose, Zachary Pace recounts the women singers—from Cat Power to Madonna, Kim Gordon to Rihanna—who shaped them as a young person coming-of-age in rural New York, first discovering their own queer voice.
Structured like a mixtape, Pace juxtaposes their coming out with the music that informed them along the way. They recount how listening to themselves sing along as a child to a Disney theme song they recorded on a boom box in 1995, was when they first realized there was an effeminate inflection to their voice. As childhood friendships splinter, Pace discusses the relationship between Whitney Houston and Robyn Crawford. Cat Power’s song “My Daddy Was a Musician” spurs a discussion of Pace’s own musician father, and their gradual estrangement.
Resonant and compelling, I Sing to Use the Waiting is a deeply personal rumination on how queer stories are abundant yet often suppressed, and how music may act as a comforting balm carrying us through difficult periods and decisions.
"Zachary Pace’s I Sing to Use the Waiting is an exhilarating mix, part memoir, part examination of queer identity, part investigation into corporate heteronormativity and the internalized homophobia it produces in children and others who are still growing into who they are—and so much more, all of it approached via the lenses of the singers (and their lives) whom Pace encountered at pivotal moments in their own growing up. In considering a recording made by Nina Simone, for example, Pace comes to understand voice itself as a form of queerness, straddling registers, enacting a fluidity that refuses binary thinking; other singers—Fiona Apple, Mariah Carey, Joanna Newsom—become a source of actual vocabulary 'for interpreting the world'; and in a discussion of Kim Gordon and Sonic Youth, Pace considers lyrics and music as entryways to the sublime, as a way 'to remember the demise that is my only destiny, relieved I’ve eluded it for now.' At one point, Pace says of Rihanna’s career that it 'enacts a singularly liberating experience of identity expression.' I’d say the same for I Sing to Use the Waiting, a beautifully provocative, smart, and tender book indeed."
—Carl Phillips, 2023 Pulitzer Prize winning author of Then the War: And Selected Poems (2022)
"Zachary Pace takes listening & fanhood to a teeming level of worship which is exactly what it is. Beautiful precise quirky bodily cerebral listening to female vocalists and writing about it. I’m so in awe of what I get when I read this dedicated performance of that. I think Kim (Gordon) should hear, Chan (Marshall) should hear. The chapter on the Kabbalah (and Madonna) was so astonishing. God should hear too: this miraculous and fun and deeply cool book that’s really about sound and our relationship to it, gendered, historic, mortal and true."
—Eileen Myles, poet, novelist and art journalist
"I’ve been waiting a long time to read a book as soulful and precise, in its treatment of listening, as Zachary Pace’s tender account of an identity put back together through the powerful elixir of singing women. Pace, a lover of the overlooked, attends to the brocaded minutiae of triumphs, comebacks, travails. To enunciation and excess, Pace brings a curatively lucid eye and ear, each vignette invested with lyric care, and with a fastidious affection for the contours of a singer’s career. This impeccable book sends me back, with a renewed heart, to the songs Pace masterfully covers, with a delivery as splendid, as emotionally impressive, as the lauded originals."
—Wayne Koestenbaum, poet, critic, novelist, artist, and performer
“What makes up the soundtrack of our lives? In this smart, captivating collection of essays, Zachary Pace brings us theirs—an eclectic, fascinating, often groundbreaking group of frontwomen whose words and voices have defined not only the larger culture, but also who the author is and who they might yet be. The essays in I Sing to Use the Waiting deftly move from informative to deeply personal and back again, breaking down songs and words and voices that cannot be contained, that exist inside a world that is both mystifying and oppressive. If you’ve ever played a song or album so many times your neighbors complained; if you’ve ever obsessively analyzed playlists of shows near and far; if you’ve ever found a voice, a lyric, a harmony saving your life: this one’s for you.”
—Lynn Melnick, author of I’ve Had to Think Up a Way to Survive: On Trauma, Persistence, and Dolly Parton
"What draws us to the sound of another person’s voice? What magnetizes others to our own? I Sing to Use the Waiting is not only a thrilling homage to a group of majestic women, but an exploration into the nature of voice itself—that queer and primal animal signature. Zachary Pace writes with electric intensity. A total joy.”
—Paul Lisicky, author of Later: My Life at the Edge of the World
"I love music and I love women in music even more, so this collection of personal essays by Zachary Pace rang nearly all my bells. I love the way Pace connects these women to their own personal development and understanding of who they are. In thinking back, I realize how much women in music shaped me as well (Madonna, Kim, Kathleen, Courtney, Mariah, Janet). This collection also helped deepen my understanding of why women singers are so important to the queer community. I learned a lot, I remembered a lot, I thought a lot."
—Laurel Kane, White Whale Bookstore (Pittsburgh, PA)
"Madonna, Gloria Estefan, Cher, Rhianna. What do these female musical acts have in common? Their aura of superstardom that catapulted them into the stratosphere of queer divaness! Author Zachary Pace's essay collection pays tribute to the numerical female singers that shaped LGBTQ culture, influenced fans and music enthusiasts detailing the talent of their vocal resonance and unique sound to becoming unlikely icons for the rebels and outliers of society!"
—Gerard Villegas, Auntie's Books (Spokane, WA)
BOOK CLUB & READER GUIDE: Questions and Topics for Discussion
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Zachary Pace is a writer and editor who lives in New York City, whose first book is I Sing to Use the Waiting: A Collection of Essays About the Women Singers Who've Made Me Who I Am, and whose writing has been published in the Baffler, BOMB, Bookforum, Boston Review, Frieze magazine, Interview magazine, Literary Hub, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the PEN Poetry Series, the Yale Review, and elsewhere. More work can be found at zacharypace.com.
Cover design: Eric Obenauf.
Cover photo: Daniel Schludi on Unsplash.
Author photograph: Jared Buckhiester.
TERRITORY: U.S. & Canada
FORMAT: Paperback Original (1st printing, gatefold)
LIST PRICE: $16.95
PRINT ISBN: 9781953387424
DIGITAL ISBN: 9781953387431
RELEASE DATE: January 23, 2024
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"