Dan Fox

French paperback with flaps, 120 pages | Audiobook read by Dan Fox
Published 1 October 2018 (UK) | 30 April 2019 (US)

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In a world that demands faith in progress and growth, Limbo is a companion for the stuck, the isolated, delayed, stranded and those in the dark. Fusing memoir with a meditation on creative block and a cultural history of limbo, Dan Fox considers the role that fallow periods and states of inbetween play in art and life. Limbo is an essay about getting by when you can’t get along, employing a cast of artists, ghosts and sailors – including the author’s older brother who, in 1985, left England for good to sail the world – to reflect on the creative, emotional and political consequences of being stuck, and its opposites. From the Headington Shark to radical behavioural experiments, from life aboard a container ship to Sun Ra’s cosmology, Limbo argues that there can be no growth without stagnancy, no movement without inactivity, and no progress without refusal. 

The White Review Books of the Year 2018 | The Irish Times Books of 2018

‘Dan Fox has produced a fascinating work of understated excellence, particularly given his starting point. Eloquent in its consideration of the subjects it focuses on and elegant in the brevity and precision of its chapters, Limbo gets to the heart of the matter and gives you something to think about.’
Pendora Magazine

‘Open-spirited and beautifully written.’
— Kate Wakeling, TLS

Limbo mixes the historical, the conceptual and the anecdotal in a very elegant way, and it is a testament to Fox’s ability as a writer that he can make, in what is a relatively short book, such disparate ideas and stories fall into place in a narrative that feels really clear and organised.… While obviously an astute cultural theorist who can draw on a truly diverse range of sources, it is the personal element of Limbo brings out the storyteller in Fox.… it is in writing about his family relationships, and the transition through adolescence into adulthood, which brings the true depth to the book.’
The London Magazine

‘Every page of this small book surprises you and makes you think.’
— Dan Kois, Slate

‘I felt understood reading Dan Fox’s Limbo, a book-length essay for the unsteady and unsure among us.’
— Nicole Flattery, author of Show Them a Good Time

Praise for Pretentiousness: Why it Matters

‘Dan Fox makes a very good case for a re-evaluation of the word “pretentious”. The desire to be more than we are shouldn’t be belittled. Meticulously researched, persuasively argued – where would we be as a culture if no-one was prepared to risk coming across as pretentious? Absolument nowhere, darling – that’s where.’
— Jarvis Cocker

Pretentiousness: Why It Matters is more than a smartly counterintuitive encomium: it’s a lucid and impassioned defence of thinking, creating and, ultimately, living in a world increasingly dominated by the massed forces of social and intellectual conservatism. I totally loved the book.’
— Tom McCarthy, author of Satin Island

‘Dan Fox’s book celebrates the art in artifice, the let’s pretend in pretentiousness, arriving at an eloquent, important understanding of how culture has always provided an escape from the dreariness of routine work and productive life. Exhaustively researched and passionately written, recognizing those who audaciously “pretend” to beauty beyond their present means, Pretentiousness is a deeply optimistic and affirming book.’
— Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick

‘In tackling so directly a term – “pretentiousness” – that has been thrown around too lightly for too long, Dan Fox has opened a fascinating, illuminating and barely glimpsed before perspective onto both culture and criticism. With clarity and persuasive argument he proves from an etymological basis that pretentiousness can be both good and bad – necessary even to cultural and artistic good health. This insightful book should be read like a contemporary reprise of an eighteenth-century essay on critical manners, for it shares with such texts the winning combination of wit, good sense and intellectual rigour.’
— Michael Bracewell, author of England is Mine

‘Epoch-making, epic, historic, unforgettable, triumphant, age-old, inevitable, inexorable, and veritable. Pretentiousness will never look the same.’
— Elif Batuman, author of The Possessed

Dan Fox is a writer, musician, and filmmaker. He is based in New York.