Tag Archives: spring 2003

World Light

Halldór Laxness Translated from the Icelandic by Magnus Magnusson Vintage ($16) by Laura Sims Over 100 pages into this novel, a character describes our protagonist, Olafur Karason, as "delicate and radiant, like a tender plant; every line of his body suggested a personal life, every movement an expression, every proportion a grace." This may come […]

Any Human Heart

William Boyd Alfred A. Knopf ($24.95) by Emily Johnston Novelist William Boyd has a fondness for framing devices: The Blue Afternoon told the story of a man's love affair while describing his daughter's new and enigmatic acquaintance with him decades later, and Brazzaville Beach opens with a woman at a seaside African cabin reflecting upon […]

Pattern Recognition

William Gibson Putnam ($25.95) by S. Clayton Moore With his eighth book, Pattern Recognition, futurist William Gibson opens new doors while resolutely keeping a finger on the pulse of the electronic underground. His female protagonist lends a cohesive sensitivity to a novel that fairly throbs with pulses of electronic intensity that shoot through a world […]


Joan London Grove Press ($23) by Bonnie Blader When I taught English to high-school students, I used to ask of each male protagonist we encountered, "Could this character have been female? Could this have been a woman's story?" Of Holden Caulfield, of Conrad's narrator in The Shadow Line, of Camus's stranger, of Knowles's Gene Forester […]

Stomping the Goyim

Michael Disend Green Integer ($12.95) by Michael Price Paraphrasing Frank O'Hara, the poet Ted Berrigan said "works of art that are not very amusing are usually not very amusing because they are not any good." He goes on to say that "amusing" does not mean funny, but rather something that "turns your muses on. That […]

Frontera Dreams

Paco Ignacio Taibo II Translated by Bill Verner Cinco Puntos Press ($13.95) by Kevin Carollo Detective Héctor Belascoarán Shayne is not all there: in Frontera Dreams, he often looks in the "mirror without recognizing himself". By the time we reach this novel, the seventh featuring Taibo's beleaguered sleuth, he has endured myriad wounds, slashes, and […]

Translating Mo'um

Cathy Park Hong Hanging Loose Press ($13) by Gabriella Ekman These days it is common to speak of the "borderland" tongues of second- and third-generation immigrant Americans—the hybrid linguistic pyrotechnics and "doubled consciousness" that result from growing up in two cultures at once. Cathy Park Hong is Korean-American, and Translating Mo'um, her fierce debut book […]

Flow Blue

Sarah Kennedy Elixir Press ($13) by Mark Pietrzykowski I'm sure there was a moment in the history of letters when the word "confessional" seemed a helpful sort of marker to pair with "poetry," when an author could claim to have written poems that mimicked the private hollows of their individual existence. It means little now, […]

Raising Eyebrows

Gary Barwin Coach House Books ($16.95) by M. David Dunn The trend toward new realism may have swept the strange from North American literature, but spontaneous transformations can occur at any time. Think of poor old Gregor Samsa. A metamorphosis like that can really mess with a person's sense of self. In his most recent […]

Beauty is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo

Carole Maso Counterpoint Press ($24) by Laura Winton Composed in Carole Maso's unique poetic and fragmentary style, Beauty is Convulsive: The Passion of Frida Kahlo is many different things at once: a highly condensed biography of Kahlo's life, a voice for her words, and Maso's artistic "conversation" with Kahlo. Beauty is Convulsive samples freely from […]