Books

Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door: Bob Dylan and the Adolescent Sublime

Bob Dylan and his Chronicles came to mind this past season at two unexpected places—the retrospective of the sculptor Eva Hesse at the Jewish Museum and Richard Foreman’s most recent show, Zomboid!

Living Things

Every single one of Anne Porter’s poems is as clear as this one, diamond-clear. Because of this Living Things is easier to buy and give to friends than to write about. Porter’s poems need no explanation, no accompanying prose. Their direct, level gaze sees through all that. The proper response to her work is to open her book, point to a poem and exclaim, “Here, read this!”

Politics: Celebrity of War

Well before Moazzam Begg was released in January 2005 from Guantánamo Bay, after spending three years in U.S. custody as an enemy combatant, he was portrayed in the play Guantánamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom (reviewed in the October 2004 Rail). While Begg couldn’t even talk to other detainees, actors were playing out his story on stages all over the world.

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Between the time I was assigned this book to review and the review actually was finished, Judith Moore, the author, died. My editor wrote and told me. It was so outrageous a concept that at first I thought it couldn’t possibly be true, because you see, since I had read the book and thought about it for so long, she belonged to me. It was like learning that my sister had died by reading it in the newspaper. So I went online to make sure. It was true. Stupidly, horribly true.

Beat for Beat

Ted Pelton’s new novel Malcolm & Jack and Other Famous American Criminals takes a daring and ambitious approach to a well-documented era in American history. Because it is told from many points of view, it doesn’t simply follow one or two characters through momentous events in their lives.

The Truth in Winkie

The stoic hero of the novel Winkie is a teddy bear who not only hopes, suffers, and muses on the mystery and misery of life like all teddy bears do, but who walks, talks, eats, poops, and gives birth “although x-rays showed only his metal parts.” The author, Clifford Chase, inherits the teddy bear from Ruth, his mother, who as a child calls Winkie (then a girl bear) Marie.

Environment: Coal Junkies

On September 4, 1882, down by the East River in lower Manhattan, Thomas Edison flipped the switch on a technological innovation that would permanently alter the cultural and environmental landscape of the U.S.: the coal-fired electric power plant. At the time, the plant, known as “dynamo,” or &ldqu

Dawgone Shaggy

1993 I walked into SoHo Rep in Tribeca; the set was elevated above the audience on all four sides of the theater. A man in a conductor’s hat flipped open a hatch on the west wall and welcomed us aboard. Characters popped in and out of the dark space: a thief lit by a glowing emerald; a man named Mr. Zendavesta reading apocrypha from the yellow pages.

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SEPT 2006

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