Talk not with scorn of Authors- it was the chattering of the Geese that saved the Capitol. Coleridge
Friday, December 28, 2018
The Overstory by Richard Powers
Not for the faint of heart. It is a BIG book, long and dense. There are two sides to the novel: there's a third person authorial voice that layers on incredible reams of facts about trees and plants and science, and then there are a handful of human characters who start out wholly separated and end up merging in radical protest against logging and commercial forces destroying the American forest.
The one problem for me is that the tree-speaking tends to dwarf the human speaking.
The humans move at lightning pace, compared to trees which have been around for thousands of years, in some cases.
Sunday, December 23, 2018
Monday, December 17, 2018
Kafka: The Decisive Years by Reiner Stach
Tuesday, December 11, 2018
Saturday, December 08, 2018
The Feral Detective by Jonathan Lethem
Thursday, December 06, 2018
The Secret Place by Tana French
Ariel: The Restored Edition by Sylvia Plath (foreword by Frieda Hughes)
Tuesday, November 27, 2018
Monday, November 19, 2018
The Dead Hour by Denise Mina
It's a shame Mina gets marketed as crime fiction -- she's a wonderful, close observer of character and class, with a sharp eye and tongue, this time setting down in 1984 Glasgow, with an Irish-Catholic take on the decline of the Scottish city.
Monday, November 12, 2018
A History of Loneliness by John Boyne
Saturday, November 03, 2018
Kafka: The Early Years by Reiner Stach
Kafka's surreal "otherworldly" style is seen hatching in turn of the century Prague, where, as a Jew, he struggled with linguistic, nationalistic and religious ghetto-ization as a native Czech.
I didn't know he was so fond of swimming, too.
|Kafka's favorite painting on his first visit to Paris, a portrait of Voltaire still in his sleeping cap with his trousers only half-on.|
|Statue of Kafka in Prague|
|Kafka and his favorites sister, Ottla|
Hurlyburly by David Rabe
Thursday, October 25, 2018
The Final Voicemails and Letters from Max by Max Ritvo
I 'm struggling with the VOICEMAILS poems, though struck with lines all over the place. Also take it personally that he was adopted so avidly by Louise Gluck and Sarah Ruhl, as a tragic Keatsian figure who was dying throughout his short writing career.
Sunday, October 14, 2018
The Witch Elm by Tana French
A novel that buries its crime and detection strengths in an over-embroidered family saga. Plus, a strange echo of Forster's HOWARD'S END.
Saturday, October 13, 2018
The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas
Tuesday, October 09, 2018
Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart
from Dwight Garner's NYT review: [GS] is is light, stinging, insolent and melancholy, to borrow the words the critic Kenneth Tynan kept on his writing desk to remind himself how to sound.
Saturday, September 29, 2018
Saturday, September 15, 2018
The Life of John Berryman by John Haffenden
The artist is extremely lucky who is presented with the worst possible ordeal which will not actually kill him.
Berryman on Delmore Schwartz's praise of JB's poems: One word is worth it all. The sick waiting, and letting the poems go out despised, the insufferable reviewers, the silence from whatever readers; the arrogance and the sick doubt; the terrible hours of probing as at a wound, looking, looking, for what may not be there; the conscience and the dry throat, the dry eyes; the piercing hope.
Schwartz to Mark Van Doren on JB: for what he needs in the most obvious way is some kind of situation to cope with besides his own feelings.
I set up The Dream Songs as hostile to every visibile tendency in both American and English poetry -- in so far as the English have any poetry nowadays. The aim was the same in both poems: the reproduction or invention of the motions of a human personality, free and determined... Critics are divided as to the degree of my success in both cases. Long may they rave!
from the novel Recovery:
On the rare occasions when he had ever applied for anything - Guggenheim and so forth - he sweated. It was beneath his dignity. His position was: let the Universe collect & do his bidding without being asked.
Some of the best kind of writing is really transparent....The artist just says what he thinks, or says how he feels....The art comes just in placing, pure syntax.
Tuesday, August 28, 2018
The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes
Hit and Misses by Simon Rich
Thursday, August 16, 2018
Lost Puritan: A Life of Robert Lowell by Paul Mariani.
Great book, and a palate cleanser/corrective after reading the recent River of Fire book focussing on Lowell's mania.
First seizure/manic episode in 1944 after writing "Colloquy on Black Rock."
Randall Jarrell on the intentional difficulty of modern poetry: with poet and public "staring at each other with righteous indignation, til the poet said, 'Since you won't read me, I'll make sure you can't.'"
Cold Harbor, "birth of the dogtag," in poem Inauguration Day: January 1953.
on writing prose: He wants to change every second word, but while he toys with revisions, "the subject sinks like a dead whale and lies in the mud of the mind's bottom."
most people were "warped old dogs set on lying in the sun and changing as little as rocks."
about the Beats: "the best poems are not necessarily poems that read aloud."
WC Williams was "right about our U.S. speech and emotional rhythms being unlike the British."
RL speech on the Gettysburg Address: America's "struggles with four almost insoluble spiritual problems" which the Gettysburg address had somehow adumbrated: "how to join equality with excellence, how to join liberty with justice, how avoid destroying or being destroyed by nuclear power, and how to complete the emancipation of the slaves."
Mary McCarthy on Lowell's illness: "Poor Cal, one day in seven he's as God intended him to be."
One had "a thousand opportunities to misrevise."
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
I looked at Catch-22 not long ago and I was greatly embarrassed — I thought it was very labored. I asked Heller when I interviewed him if he had used a thesaurus. He said, “Oh yes, I used a thesaurus a very great deal.” And I use a thesaurus a lot too, but not looking for a fancy word for “big.” I use it so I can vary the rhythm of what I’m writing — I want a synonym that’s three syllables, or one syllable. It’s a terrific aid to euphony, and everybody has their own idea of euphony. But the idea of plucking an obscure word out of a thesaurus is frivolous, I think.
Heller began the novel when he was 30, and published it when he was 38. There are show-offy words here and there -- and whole chunks of it seen overwritten -- but it's an extraordinary novel, and even more so for being a first novel.
Wednesday, August 01, 2018
Going Away by Clancy Sigal
John Leonard in the New York Times wrote: "Better than any other document I know, Going Away identified, embodied and re‐created the postwar American radical experience. It was as if On the Road had been written by somebody with brains.... (Sigal's) intelligence is always ticking. His ear is superb. His sympathies are promiscuous. His sin is enthusiasm."
The View from Flyover Country by Sarah Kendzior
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Tess of the D'urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
Tuesday, June 05, 2018
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Tuesday, May 15, 2018
The Idiot by Elif Batuman
Wednesday, May 02, 2018
Conversation in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa
In this country a person who doesn't fuck himself up fucks up other people.
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday
Crane: an artist is nothing but a powerful memory that can move itself at will through certain experiences sideways.
Monday, April 09, 2018
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Buy the books on Amazon, and watch videos of some readings. Please.
My son and I saw THE HIDDEN FORTRESS at AFI Silver yesterday afternoon, what a masterpiece! The 21-year old Misa Uehara as the Princess was ...
Buy the books on Amazon, and watch videos of some readings. Please.
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LIE: The Life and Times of Louise Fitzhugh, Renegade Author of Harriet the Spy By Leslie BrodyInteresting if thin biography of Fitzhugh. There was an earlier one from 1991 by Virginia Wolf that is apparently more scholarly. This one...