Every poem in this book is crafted with delicate turns. Strong work with elegantly formal underpinnings, the themes of longing, lust, despair, and actEvery poem in this book is crafted with delicate turns. Strong work with elegantly formal underpinnings, the themes of longing, lust, despair, and activism are the mainstays. Enjoyed this quite a bit. A sensitive male voice here, with poetics that dazzle and spark as easily as playing the somber notes in deceptively quiet tones. ...more
In terms of books on anarchists, this book has a rather scattered focus. I admire Conrad's other work, but this particular novel feels poorly structurIn terms of books on anarchists, this book has a rather scattered focus. I admire Conrad's other work, but this particular novel feels poorly structured, on an odd timeline that seemed careless, and created with no characters I could enjoy throughout. An exercise in a tale pushed by an idea--propagandistic but with what aims? Conrad says of this work that it was a departure of sorts, an ironical tale. All right, but it didn't work as great art for me--largely because it couldn't decide its own point nor convey said point to me. That said, the surreal grotesque in passages was interesting. It almost made lit-noir interesting, just felt like the entourage of voices left a din rather than an ever-opening takeaway on the world. ...more
Bound by Blue by Meg Tuite sparkles darkly with dense, poetic prose also resembling a hidden knife or gag in the deepest shade of indigo. At the heartBound by Blue by Meg Tuite sparkles darkly with dense, poetic prose also resembling a hidden knife or gag in the deepest shade of indigo. At the heart of Tuite’s work is memory—specifically, often, the memory of sexual trauma. From externally successful medical student Audrey in ‘The F Word,’ whose revisited sexual past spurs a destructive eating disorder that nearly debilitates her current romantic relationship, to the sweet seven year old Marliss in ‘The Tooth Fairy,’ writing with a child’s literacy to the Tooth Fairy in the nearly impossible hope of being saved from her brother’s molesting friend, Tuite deftly runs the gamut of characters emerging from the camp of life’s walking wounded. Often, I found, while reading this collection, that I had to pause and absorb, spend a moment away after reading one particular story or another. Tuite’s work is that dark, trenchant, and powerful. The binding garotte here is that of forced silences, of invisible shames, of acts of violence done by one individual to another, the cumulative maimed butterfly effect of these agents—and be forewarned, with the aid of Tuite’s deft skill, the monsters are out of the closets, lingering with lambs, in this explosive collection where even the darkest of her characters is acerbically revealed as human, multi-faceted, and just flawed enough to be somewhat sympathetic in a horrifying and double-edged way that only increases the reader’s understanding of their abuse’s terrifying resonance for their victims....more
How excellent it is to read several hundred pages of Atwood's incisive poetry in one book, moving decade by decade through the stages one can see in sHow excellent it is to read several hundred pages of Atwood's incisive poetry in one book, moving decade by decade through the stages one can see in such a survey of the work. This book is a must get for fans of her poems. There is so much beauty here. ...more
**spoiler alert** The fabulous thing about reading Anne Carson is that it is always a glimpse of a very playful, agile mind at work. Rather like readi**spoiler alert** The fabulous thing about reading Anne Carson is that it is always a glimpse of a very playful, agile mind at work. Rather like reading the whispered asides of someone whose opinion and knowledge one respects and enjoys, reading her thoughts in this piece is a pleasure since she calls out Proust for both his characterization of Albertine, his own obsession with a man it would seem she was foil for, and the strange way in which desire is most manifest as an erasure of Albertine as more than an object-- the masturbatory fodder for the author's whims based on partial representation. Oh, how sweet it is to see Carson use her cunning to unveil that which lingers in Proust's somewhat pathetic and mutilated eroticism. Love this text! ...more
I liked this book, but I did not love it. I think this is because I was hoping for more. Perhaps the hype it has enjoyed led me to believe that I woulI liked this book, but I did not love it. I think this is because I was hoping for more. Perhaps the hype it has enjoyed led me to believe that I would be reading a more transcendent narrative. Perhaps, since I have experienced quite a bit of grief, I was hoping to find the book a solace or a mirroring--and the prose itself, I expected it to work harder for my experience as a reader. I have another of Didion's books, so I will go to that next. My time is very limited for personal reading selections. I want/ed to be blown away. For me, this book felt like a quiet gust, a breeze. Granted, grief is difficult to articulate through--but I think more distance via more time for crafting this book would have made a stronger narrative for Didion's readers. It reads like a lot of going to dinner and a lot of visits to her ailing daughter. All this said, of course one feels for her as a human being who has lost a spouse. No review can even remotely address the personal loss that created the need for this book. It's simply that the book itself--I don't feel that it is a match for what Didion CAN do and found it to be less of a literary accomplishment than an articulation of time spent in a gray zone....more
I like this text since it shows an author's professional and personal concerns regarding the making of literature over a span of years. I've never beeI like this text since it shows an author's professional and personal concerns regarding the making of literature over a span of years. I've never been a big fan of DFW's work, meaning it never struck me as something that lured me right off the bat (I will likely read more of it AFTER having read this), but I am very interested in his process and motivations. I'm also interested in the role depression plays on productivity for other authors. This book is well executed in that sense. So much personal correspondence integrated into the mix makes for a clearer portrait of DFW's many sides.
It also explores, for me, the difference between the way many male literary authors think--and the complete reversal of how a lot of female literary authors think RE professional envy, competition with peers, etc. Anytime you read an in-depth analysis of someone quite unlike yourself, I feel you gain insight. I think the narrative is interesting,too, as a study of fame and the sensitive ones--how certain anxieties can be amplified. In a sense, it makes the average, everyday author without a cult-following feel enormously grateful--glad that they may not yet have a measuring stick upon which each new release will be gauged. I found myself reflecting on the difference between public and private identity quite a bit as I read this--often looking at the mild picture of DFW on the front of the book between chapters--reflecting on how the "face" one puts to the outer world differs so intensely from the real face of life's struggles the individual navigates.
I'd recommend this for authors going in for a long haul with the literary endeavor--not because it is hopeful, but because it does explore the privilege of having a big house and a big audience and all of that--but also the penalty, the ego involved, and how, if this is not closely monitored, an author's life can be taken over by his fear, creating a block to doing what he loves with any sort of satisfaction. It's a good message to absorb--one I think this book drives home in a really interesting way--though one finds oneself feeling sorry for those around DFW, for what they endured, since, whether due to personal mental illness or professional strain, he could not love himself or those nearest enough to rise above the urge for self-evacuation. And I get the sense that the reading world missed out on five or more books that may have come to be-- had he been able to persevere. Alas....more
Cather's Nebraskan plains are gorgeous in this text--and her observations on body language are spot on. At times, one wonders about the book in termsCather's Nebraskan plains are gorgeous in this text--and her observations on body language are spot on. At times, one wonders about the book in terms of structure--Two very long first Books in the narrative and then a smattering of shorter Books at the end? Don't expect conformity there. Also, don't expect a believable male narrator. Still, there are moments of absolute beauty in this text, and its meditations on nostalgia and the human desire for retaining the positive aspects of the past make it well worth reading. She also has a flair for the grotesque that I admire--that was reminiscent, for this reader, of what I enjoy in the work of those practioners of the Southern grotesque.
I found this interesting quote in an article by Sarah Gleeson-White as I was doing some reading (please note the birth and death dates of these important American authors are put in brackets by me so as to add interest to the discussion--Cather's life spanned 1873-1947):
“Writers of the ‘southern grotesque’ or ‘southern gothic’ for example, Eudora Welty [1909-2001], William Faulkner [1897-1962], Carson McCullers [1917-1967] , Truman Capote [1924-1984], and Flannery O’Connor [1925-1964] conjure up the strange worlds of freakish outsiders placed in lovelorn barren landscapes, penetrating heat, and closed spaces, with themes of miscegenation, sexual deviance and bloody violence. Perhaps not surprisingly, critical readers have, on the whole, concurred that the southern grotesque aligns itself with a gloomy vision of modernity, according to which the soul of man is both aimless and loveless. The grotesque worlds of southern literature, it is argued, allegorize the human condition itself as existential alienation and angst.” From “Revisiting the Southern Grotesque: Mikhail Bakhtin and the Case of Carson McCullers” in The Southern Literary Journal, Volume 33, Number 2, Spring 2001.
If we read the definitive elements of much of the text Gleeson-White maps out here, it made sense to me that all of these literary figures could have been impacted by Cather—separate though her landscape is from the American South—because the attributes of rural living can be echoes of each other in a country in the process of being shaped and formed.
So, I think people interested in Southern literature who haven't read this book should check it out. I'm betting a quarter she had influence on some of the famous folks above. :) Please do correct me if I'm wrong. ...more