A Review: The Letter All Your Friends Have Written...
The distinguishing feature of this poetry collection is not, in fact, the poems—though they are good—but the book’s genesis. As Tishon and Meissner explain in the introduction: “…we’ve been friends for roughly five years. In those five years we’ve shared countless letters. These letters aren’t letters in the true sense of the word. They are poems….” Born from the intimacy of friendship and given...
I can hear all I want about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll on the...– * * * As Jaimy Gordon describes it: “Something between a shocking exposé, a defiant treatise, a prose poem, and an exuberant Girl Scout manual.” Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, February 2012 Pre-order Girlchild today
A Review: Heft by Liz Moore
What if you were entirely alone and just let go, released the restraints by which you limit yourself? Liz Moore’s novel asks this question repeatedly and variedly. The title, Heft, most apparently refers to Arthur Opp, who has not left his Park Slope brownstone since September 11, 2001 and has grown “colossally fat.” That day’s tragedy provoked the realization that he had no one to...
Anyone have an hour and sixteen minutes to kill? I spent a raucous Friday night at the Center for Fiction, absorbing the wit of the “Criticism Beyond Itself” panel, and loved every minute of it. Tune in for the panel’s thoughts on Viktor Shklovsky, Geoff Dyer, writing for Harper’s vs. The New Yorker, spaghettini, and switching hospital beds. From left to right: moderator...
Some 2012 books I'm excited about
And surprise: they’re all by women. * * * Threats: A Novel by Amelia Gray (FSG, February 2012) I’d admired Gray’s experimental writing (AM/PM !!) for years, and her debut novel promises quite a lot: part mystery, part love story, part tragedy and all written in gripping, poetic prose. When I Was A Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson (FSG, March 2012) ...
A Review: The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen
For those who choose to remove themselves from the Western world, the expatriate experience is singular and, often, inexpressible. The experience varies by country and the time spent there, by finances and by open-mindedness, but the expatriate will always be an outsider. After a year of wandering village markets in Africa and staring over the Atlantic from the wrong side, I have continually tried...
Happy Friday the 13th!
He appeared before me, rolling his eyes dreadfully, and sticking out a tongue as red as an iron drawn from the fire. I begged for mercy; in vain. With one hand he grabbed me by the throat, and with the other he tore out the eye I am now missing. In the place where my eye had been, he stuck his burning-hot tongue. With it he licked my brain and made me howl with pain. Then the other hanged man,...
A Review: Hope: A Tragedy by Shalom Auslander
Far above many things—natural athletic ability, green thumbs, fast cars—I admire funny writers. Writers who can make readers smile or, even, laugh, who know how to balance humor and heft, deserve great praise. Shalom Auslander, a rare writer, has a keen sense of humor that seems to rise effortlessly from his prose and his characters. But he is far more than funny: Auslander is terrifying. If there...
I was miserable, of course, for I was seventeen, and so I swung into action and...– * * * William Matthews, “Mingus at the Showplace” from Time and Money: New Poems. © 1995 by William Matthews.
A Review: The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
Pak Jun Do, aka The Orphan Master’s Son, is told that the greatest American film, the one he must see, is Casablanca. “They say it’s about love,” his friend and cohort, Comrade Buc, explains. But no one Jun Do encounters has ever watched the film. Not Buc, who recommends and procures it, not the famous North Korean actress, Sun Moon, who worries that viewing films will taint her acting. Despite...
10 great literary epigraphs
Flavorpill recently published The 25 Greatest Epigraphs in Literature. Here is my counter offer. * * * What is past is prologue. —Inscription in Washington, D.C., museum from White Teeth by Zadie Smith This is the patent age of new inventions For killing bodies, and for saving souls, All propagated with the best intentions. —Byron from The Quiet American by Graham Greene ...
A Review: The Fallback Plan by Leigh Stein
When a person “of a certain age” reaches said age, various reactions have been known to ensue. Among the more traditional: depression, extramarital affairs, the purchasing of impractical items (e.g. little red sports cars), dramatic career changes, food or alcohol abuse. The non-traditional but possible: deciding to climb Mt. Everest, joining the Peace Corps, taking up improvisational comedy. Yes,...
The Lit Pub on Twittering Poets →
Shameless self-promotion: the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Blog picked up on my Twittering Author post over at the Lit Pub. They liked it! You will, too!
In America, we believe that each person is the central character in his or her...– —Adam Johnson, “Adam Johnson Recalls North Korea: A Country with No Books” * * * Johnson’s first novel, The Orphan Master’s Son, tells the story of one man living in such a world—North Korea. It was my first 2012 read, and I am still reeling. Look for my review...