Books

Fearing The Feral Carousels No More

Savage Park reads like an amazing, late-night, nearly life-changing conversation with a too-perceptive friend—one who so succinctly expresses existential problems that it helps you to envision an entirely new (and possibly happier) way of living. Everyone should have a friend like that.

The Long Way Around

In today’s world, which Michael Hofmann describes as “blogal and instant and on demand,” where it seems we are all trying to consume as much content as quickly as possible, Where Have You Been? feels almost novel. These 30 essays—which focus mainly on 20th-century poets, but also visual art, film, prose writers, and some thoughts on translation—can in no way be read quickly or easily.

Recovering Churchill

Boris Johnson, conservative politician and Mayor of London, has penned his ninth book, The Churchill Factor, about that great figure of British resilience, defender of democracy in Europe, Sir Winston Churchill. While the book will undoubtedly serve to advance Johnson’s political rise, The Churchill Factor also operates as a concise, cogent overview of Churchill’s leadership arc and political rise, told in a witty style, which manages (if just barely) to refrain from hagiography.

A New Look at New Delhi

Growing up as a female in Delhi informs your every move in a way few other cities do. Delhi violates you, eyes seek you out, hands reach for you, and you learn early on that your body is a weapon that can be easily used against you. It is a strange, simultaneous awareness and loss of power. Understanding and capturing young female life in Delhi is difficult but Kapoor tackles it beautifully.

Bound Together

On March 24, 1927, a writer and a composer met in a cafe in Berlin to discuss the prospect of working together. This fact unto itself is not particularly notable, as the Weimar Republic had made Berlin a hotbed of artistic activity. However, though no one knew it then, these two young men—Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill—would go on to radically reshape musical theater.

The Morality of Landscape

Reading Stanley Crawford’s Travel Notes is like being in a tailspin. A safe one, perhaps, but a tailspin nonetheless. Everything is not as it should be; you feel disoriented. You go up in the air, then plummet; then you are safe on the ground. But you don’t stay grounded. Before you know it, you’re up in the air again, and have no idea how high you are or how much higher you might go.

The Elemental Similarities That Unite Us

for an ongoing two months I’ve had Charles Pierce’s short stories on my mind, specifically “The Real Alan Gass” and “Videos of People Falling Down.” I’d like to claim they’re the best of the stories in Hall of Small Mammals, his phenomenally good debut collection out from Riverhead in January,

In Conversation

FICTION AS MAGIC, LANGUAGE AS SPELL
PETER MARKUS with Lily Hoang

Peter Markus gives us the gifts of boyhood and brotherhood, its violence and camaraderie, its magical enchantment. Markus’s books share similar concerns—brothers, mud, fish, river, girl, moon—and these words cycle through his lyric prose like a chant that washes us into an elasticized imagination accessible only in childhood. There is a deceptive simplicity to Markus’s writing.

In Conversation

THE ELEMENT OF ESCAPE:
ATTICUS LISH with Dan Ostlund

To go into what might be regarded as the family business without the advantage of familial tutelage or connection is to prefer hard labor over easy pedigree, but Atticus Lish, son of the famed writer and Knopf editor Gordon Lish, didn’t seek out his father’s help, didn’t even mention he was writing a novel until it was done.

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FEB 2015

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