Stephanie Gangi’s The Next takes commonly held ideas about death, dying, and ghosts and flips them on their head.
I was not alone in my section at Phyllida Lloyd’s Shakespeare in the Park production of Shrew this summer to gasp when Cush Jumbo’s Katherina laid herself flat on her stomach, holding out her hand for her husband Petruchio to step upon.
The seventy-five-year-old Menaker has returned to his editorial obsession with linguistic errors in his smart, hilarious The African Svelte: Ingenious Misspellings That Make Surprising Sense . This hip humor book for grammar nerds and language lovers, illustrated by Roz Chast with a foreword by poet Billy Collins, offers 101 funny favorite faux pas and misspellings that the long-time editor came across, such as “roman o’clay,” “rock and role,” “furled brow,” “naval gazing,” and “above approach.”
Bernadette Mayer has always been an outlier with the confidence of an insider. Since her days editing the Conceptualist journal 0 to 9 with Vito Acconci, publishing the likes of Ted Berrigan, Sol LeWitt, and Kenneth Koch, she has channeled the most progressive trends in art without losing her own particular voice: working-class, old school, old neighborhood, cranky New York. Mayer is a punk yogi who can bite one moment, drop Dharma on you the next.
Tim Murphy is a well-regarded activist and journalist who has covered the AIDS epidemic since the 1990s. His new novel Christodora was recently released by Grove Atlantic to great accolades.
War, clearly, is the heart of the story, but it is also insistently avoided by characters and author alike, a hole at the center of everyone’s experience once the opening scenes are past.
Many times in Yoram Kaniuk’s Between Life and Death, the Israeli writer is implored by voices anonymous and familiar to return to the corporeal world.
Last winter, I asked writers Rick Moody and Porochista Khakpour—whose passionate and fiercely intelligent exchanges about literature, writing, and writers I’d been reading on social media—to bring their conversation to The Brooklyn Rail, partly to share their words with our readers and partly to celebrate the occasion of Rick Moody’s new novel Hotel of North America. I gave them no prompts other than to go as long as they’d like to explore their ideas as fully as they wanted to.
If it hadn’t been official before, it’s official now: as soon as Garrison Keillor of NPR’s Writer’s Almanac recited “Reading to my kids” from the just-published collection, Jesus Was a Homeboy, we knew that its author Kevin Carey, my one-time graduate student, now friend and artistic colleague, had made a permanent spot for himself on the nation’s literary map.
I can’t deny the spell cast by Swing Time, Zadie Smith’s latest. I can’t hold back from declaring it first a career peak, one she’ll be hard-pressed to top, and beyond that a steep challenge for any novelist out there.
Both the primary characters of Anna Seghers’s Crossing: A Love Story, written in 1971 and translated into English for the first time by Douglas Irving, are returning to East Germany by cargo ship after their respective business trips in Brazil.
William Maxwell, in one of his last essays, “Nearing 90,” said this: “I did not wholly escape the amnesia that overtakes children around the age of six but I carried along with me more of my childhood than, I think, most people do.” And in that same spirit, as an extension of Maxwell’s confession, Fanny Howe has given us a brilliant and lyrical new book of essays and poetry, The Needle’s Eye: Passing Through Youth.
With admirable concision and a prose style as delightful as it is rigorous, Keats critically examines six of Fuller’s most important ideas, ending each section with a “proposition” of his own that builds on—and often goes far beyond—his predecessor’s original.
Cliburn, a pianist and the subject of Nigel Cliff’s latest biography, Moscow Nights, incarnated this dual role of individual and national symbol in two countries for decades of the Cold War.