11:14 am - September 6, 2014
11 notes
Enough time has passed; the terror has settled. There’s nothing left to loot, few reasons to kill (though everyone still carries a weapon and a speck of suspicion). People have settled into townships around defunct gas stations and hotels. Those who have ceased wandering now harvest in their gardens and raise children and swoon for Shakespeare — so like and unlike our own world. After many years of performing, the Symphony has culled their repertoire down to only the Bard. As one actor reasons, “People want what was best about the world,” a sentiment that could make even the hardest hearts yearn to read a sonnet, to smell a book, to perform any gesture to illustrate gratitude for what we have.
I reviewed Emily St. John Mandel’s spectacular post-apocalyptic novel, Station Eleven, for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Here.
2:27 pm - August 9, 2014
175 notes
Among many other reasons to love Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (Knopf, 9/9/14), this perfect epigraph by Polish poet Czesław Miłosz.

Among many other reasons to love Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven (Knopf, 9/9/14), this perfect epigraph by Polish poet Czesław Miłosz.

2:39 pm - July 30, 2014
4 notes
My fairy tales are non-representational, and I use color very selectively for this reason. I want as little contrast as possible through a book, in order to support the emotional and intellectual essences I want the book to induce. Strict formal restrictions allow me to focus on the ideas and emotions, so I must restrict colors. Pink was the first color I chose for this book. It is a short word that ends on a nice hard consonant and I have always liked it. Pink is a flat word, somehow very exposed. It is a bit of a nervous word, though as a color it can be lovely. Full of contradictions, which was good for the range of emotions of this collection. I think pink is one of the saddest colors in the world, and many American humans are taught not to take anything pink seriously, which is weird.
I interviewed the marvelous Kate Bernheimer about her new collection, How a Mother Weaned Her Girl from Fairy Tales (from Coffee House Press).
4:34 pm - July 17, 2014
93 notes

When at a Certain Party in NYC

Wherever you’re from sucks,
and wherever you grew up sucks,
and everyone here lives in a converted
chocolate factory or deconsecrated church
without an ugly lamp or souvenir coffee cup
in sight, but only carefully edited objets, like
the Lacanian soap dispenser in the kitchen
that looks like an industrial age dildo, and
when you rifle through the bathroom
looking for a spare tampon, you discover
that even their toothpaste is somehow more
desirable than yours. And later you go
with a world famous critic to eat a plate
of sushi prepared by a world famous chef
from Sweden and the roll is conceived to look like
“a strand of pearls around a white throat,” and is
so confusingly beautiful that it makes itself
impossible to eat. And your friend back home—
who says the pioneers who first settled
the great asphalt parking lot of our
middle were not intact heroic, but really
the chubby ones, who lacked the imagination
to go all the way to California—it could be that
she’s on to something. Because, admit it,
when you look at the people on these streets,
the razor blade women with their strategic bones,
and the men wearing Amish pants with
interesting zippers, it’s pretty clear that you
will never cut it anywhere that constitutes
a where, that even ordering a pint of tuna salad in
a deli is an illustrative exercise in self-doubt.
So when you see the dogs on the high-rise elevators
practically tweaking, panting all the way down
from the 19th floor to the 1st, dying to get on
with their long planned business of snuffling
trash or peeing on something to which all day
they’ve been looking forward, what you want is
to be on the fastest Conestoga home, where the other
losers live and where the tasteless azaleas are,
as we speak, half-heartedly exploding.

—Erin Belieu

© 2010 Erin Belieu

(Source: motionpoems.com)

8:49 pm - July 16, 2014
4 notes

Last fall, I heard Anne Carson read from her 59 paragraphs about the character Albertine Simonet from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. That evening was one of the best literary experiences of my life so far—I even wrote a short poem about it. Carson’s phenomenal work (still beautiful for those who haven’t read Proust, I’m sure, but especially appealing to those of us who own multiple editions of the novel and at least seven nonfiction books about him) is now available as part of the New Directions Poetry Pamphlet series, and here are my two favorite passages:

appendix 15 (a) on adjectives

Adjectives are the handles of Being. Nouns name the world, adjectives let you get hold of the name and keep it from flying all over your mind like a pre-Socratic explanation of the cosmos. Air, for example, in Proust can be (adjectivally) gummy, flaked, squeezed, frayed, pressed or percolated in Book 1; powdery, crumbling, embalmed, distilled, scattered, liquid or volatilized in Book 2; woven or brittle in Book 3; congealed in Book 4; melted, glazed, unctuous, elastic, fermenting, contracted, distended in Book 5; solidified in Book 6; and there seems to be no air at all in Book 7. I can see very little value in this kind of information, but making such lists is some of the best fun you’ll have once you enter the desert of After Proust.


appendix 29 on kimonos

Knowledge of other people is unendurable. Japanese kimonos were in style in Paris in the ’20s. They had been redesigned for the European market, with less sleeve and more pocket. Albertine keeps all her letters in the pocket of the kimono that she so carelessly tosses over a chair in Marcel’s room just before falling asleep. The truth about Albertine is that close. Marcel does not investigate. Knowledge of other people is unendurable.

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