Tag Archives: Winter 2017

Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music

Michael Robbins Simon & Schuster ($24) by Henry Gould Michael Robbins might be the Baudelaire of 21st-century America. Like the Parisian polymath flâneur, he rambles wide-eyed and open-eared across intersections of seemingly disparate neighborhoods, mixing them together: high art with low life, arcane literary scholarship with drugs and rock 'n' roll. What for Baudelaire were […]

Beneath the Radar: An Interview with Janet Capron

interviewed by Ben Shields Until recently, Janet Capron—author of the new book Blue Money (Unnamed Press, $16)—was using her literary talent to write pharmaceutical literature and instructional film scripts for oncologists. By the time she met me for a decadent (but non-alcoholic) dinner several weeks ago, that had all mercifully changed. We dined in the […]

The Art of Topiary

Jan Wagner Translated by David Keplinger Milkweed Editions ($18) by Allison Campbell It is uncommon for a book's title to summarize its contents as accurately as German poet Jan Wagner's The Art of Topiary. The collection, Wagner's first translated into English, is full of poems that clip the ordinary into precise shape and sound. In […]

The Disconnected

Oğuz Atay Translated by Sevin Seydi Olric Press (£50) by Jeff Bursey The first thing to be said about The Disconnected (Tutunamayanlar in its original Turkish) is that it is available in a handsome limited edition, so the curious should contact the publisher quickly at the link noted above if they want a copy. The […]

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy

Ta-Nehisi Coates One World ($28) by Chris Barsanti Until recently, when the true desolation of the early Trump era has started metastasizing in even the most ardent optimist's heart, America had a script to use after a catastrophe. Whether a mass shooting, natural disaster, or police atrocity, each event was termed an opportunity for a […]

Silence: In the Age of Noise

Erling Kagge Translated by Becky L. Crook Pantheon ($20) by Adrian Glass-Moore Many of us live under constant attack by noise, a most insidious enemy since it passes itself off as a friend. We are likely to say "it's too quiet" whenever silence wins a brief (and it is always brief) victory over noise. Erling […]

Foolish Questions & Other Odd Observations: Early Comics 1909-1919

Rube Goldberg Sunday Press ($35) by Jeff Alford Even before he was celebrated internationally for his zany inventions, Reuben Lucius Goldberg churned out cartoons like a machine. He built his comics around a simple premise, typically a recurring punchline or structural gimmick. His 1912 cartoon I'm The Guy features repeated wordplay, with characters who "put […]

from unincorporated territory [lukao]

Craig Santos Perez Omnidawn ($17.95) by Robyn Maree Pickens Where a banyan tree is adventitious, with its branches and roots growing in a promiscuous tangle, from unincorporated territory [lukao] by Craig Santos Perez is ordered and carefully wrought. Beyond this initial comparison however, Perez deploys the banyan tree as both metaphor and symbol of two […]

Attributed to the Harrow Painter

Nick Twemlow University of Iowa Press ($18) by Stephanie Burt If you started writing, or reading, contemporary poetry in the 1990s, you may remember how disconnected from practical matters so many poets (mostly white ones) seemed; you may remember how many then—urgent questions about art and language and style spoke almost entirely (so it seemed […]

The World to Come

Jim Shepard Vintage ($16) by Ray Barker 1987's holiday film Planes, Trains, and Automobiles has nothing on Jim Shepard's recent short story collection, The World to Come. Nearly all manner of transport is explored: ship ("HMS Terror"), train ("Positive Train Control"), horse-and-buggy ("The World to Come"), and even hot air balloon ("The Ocean of Air"). […]