Books

Graphic Novel: The A. for Anybody

What do you do when you emerge from an alcohol-induced blackout to find yourself in the front seat of a car with an octogenarian dwarf busily working the zipper on your pants so she can get to your “circumcised,” “Jewish” cock? Hurry, now. The police are arriving.

In Conversation

Geography? It Doesn't Exist: Antonio Lobo Antunes with Alessandro Cassin

Antonio Lobo Antunes agreed to meet me in his hotel on Park Avenue South on a sunny afternoon. I was greeted by a youthful, balding, 66-year-old, with slate blue eyes the color of his denim shirt. The Portuguese writer was in New York for just a few days after a twenty year absence.

Poetry: A Guilty Conscience for her Time

In his 1960 Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Saint-John Perse said that “it is enough for the poet to be the guilty conscience of his time.” Perse was a poet who ventured inward and he often described his journeys in terms of landscapes and broad histories, of the interior made exterior.

Non-Fiction: Better Me than Democracy

Studies—even pop studies—of the sociological aspects of the American system of government seem to be a vanishing species. In keeping with the nasty, selfish, finger-pointing tone of most mainstream political discussion this century, it’s no surprise that books on the subject tend to be highly partisan attacks on political parties or figures.

Poetry: Language and Love

Love for Vladimir Nabokov was hardly a matter of the heart. He once suggested that a writer should work with “the imagination of a scientist,” and even his finest prose—probably Lolita and Speak, Memory—is more distinguished for a lapidary concern with the nuance of language than the humanistic and religious grappling of the great Russian novelists who proceeded him.

Poetry: Back on the Warhorse

In his new collection of poems, Warhorses, Yusef Komunyakaa explores familiar themes with idiosyncratic grace and musical intensity. Organized into three sections—“Love in the Time of War,” “Heavy Metal,” and “Autobiography of My Alter Ego”—Warhorses examines how war encapsulates and mutates human experience and the world.

Non-Fiction: Little Lies and Literati

In late 2005, the world learned that JT LeRoy—the former teenage prostitute who as a young transgendered novelist living in San Francisco had transformed himself into a minor celebrity and “darling of the avant-garde”—was actually a forty-year-old woman named Laura Albert.

Non-Fiction: Ted-time Letters

Christopher Reid, who edited Ted Hughes, has done a painstaking and meticulous job of assembling and annotating the poet’s selected letters. He thanks Hughes’s wife Carol for “watching benignly and patiently over the entire operation,” and it could have been no small patience to choose these three hundred dense letters from several thousand that are archived.

The Regulation That Didn’t Save Us: David Hajdu with Roland Kelts

Author David Hajdu’s Columbia University office is a museum of his subjects’ histories. Photos of jazz greats featured in his first book, Lush Life, adorn the west walls, replete with autographs; images of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez and the Greenwich Village streets of old glower from above; and, hanging inches from Hajdu’s desk, are signed graphics from American comic book icons like Will Eisner.

Prose Roundup

Roberto Bolaño’s books should be stacked on your bedside table. They should be battered and dog-eared, coffee stained, and creased.

Poetry Roundup

Time is currency and Jorie Graham spends her poems surfing the cresting curl of the present. A persistent monologue probes the pleats of passing seconds and the “trellis of minutes.”

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NOV 2008

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