Browsed by
Tag: Literature

Wallace Stevens and the Mandolins of Spring

Wallace Stevens and the Mandolins of Spring

Rod Stewart’s Mandolin Wind   So, I’m up in the mountains again, and I’m reading Wallace Stevens — reading about him, reading his poems. I take music with me, listen to it before and after the readings. It’s very windy on the top of the mountain. Actually, the winds are ferocious at times. Merciless. And because I heard the Rod Stewart song in the car before I went to my place, my perfect spot, near the beautiful jagged rocks and…

Read More Read More

Alice Kaplan: Looking for the Stranger

Alice Kaplan: Looking for the Stranger

Biographies of writers, artists, musicians and the like fill our libraries to the brim. But in recent years, a new kind of bio has emerged: the “life” of a particular work of art. One very fine example of this sub-genre is Alice Kaplan’s Looking for The Stranger. The book gives us a brief (but continuous) bio of Camus, his birth and early years in Algeria, providing the North African as well as Parisian contexts for his literary output before, during…

Read More Read More

Dwell Here: Nostalgia’s Graveyard Seductions

Dwell Here: Nostalgia’s Graveyard Seductions

  The poem I sent into the aether yesterday, Probably the Last Dawn Poem, was an old one. It was already a slightly belated look homeward (angel) to a time of some social and romantic turmoil, when my life was at one of its all too frequent “crossroads.” I had written a series of poems ab0ut a young woman with the perfect name for all of this, whom I had fallen for, hard, but who was still entangled with someone…

Read More Read More

Dylanesque Mountains Blowing in the Wind

Dylanesque Mountains Blowing in the Wind

I go to my spot. It’s my spot though it’s everyone’s. It’s everyone’s though it’s really just mine. Because I say so. Because I believe the rocks, the trees, the birds, the clouds all speak for me. They are my eyes and ears and voice. Voices. Plural times plural. So close to infinity, but not quite. Again, because that is my thinking and I don’t really want to take the easy way out. The easy way out would be to…

Read More Read More

Don DeLillo’s Zero K

Don DeLillo’s Zero K

Don DeLillo, the author of White Noise and Underworld, has given us one of his best novels to date at the ripe old age of 79. The subject matter is fitting. It’s about mortality, life after death — or its absence — and is a poetic meditation on the potential of science to extend said life. It may also be about the potential for junk science to heighten and exploit our delusions regarding the hereafter, but DeLillo doesn’t tell us…

Read More Read More

Harper Lee has died

Harper Lee has died

This is sad news. The author of To Kill a Mockingbird and the controversial Go Set a Watchman died today, age 89. There will no doubt be hundreds of articles about her life, work and times, appearing all across the web, and I won’t even try to add to that list. But I do want to express my thanks for her brilliant first novel, for the creation of several iconic characters, and for what she gave overall to the Republic…

Read More Read More

Purity

Purity

I’m about 300 pages into Franzen’s new novel, Purity, and it’s truly hit its stride. It started out a little slowly for me, and I think he did too much telling, rather than showing, but readerly patience has paid off. At this point, and especially after his brilliant, almost ecstatic description of Pip’s sojourn in Bolivia, it’s more than clear that Franzen can build a compelling case for his world, its multiplicity of emotions, motives, betrayals and jealousies, and especially…

Read More Read More

Dawn Powell’s Turn, Magic Wheel

Dawn Powell’s Turn, Magic Wheel

 Recently finished a truly excellent novel, Turn, Magic Wheel (1936), by Dawn Powell. A formerly neglected master, she was “rediscovered” in the 1990s, thanks to the efforts of critics and writers like Gore Vidal and Tim Page. Today, she is seen by some as at least the equal, if not the superior, to Dorothy Parker as satirist of the first rank — especially of the New York literary scene. That scene is the main subject matter for the novel in…

Read More Read More