- March 22nd, 2015
At the moment, I can’t think of a poet more consistently motivated by – and dependent on – her antagonists than Alice Fulton. In a 1990 essay, she writes, “If people notice an idea, they can argue against it, thus undermining it. But a more secluded assumption won’t be disabled.
- March 15th, 2015
Literary critics usually place Jean-Luc Benoziglio’s novels within the late century post-structuralist mode. His texts, they say, are presences in themselves, not intended to direct the reader’s gaze to a world beyond words. His parodic manner disparages literary conventions. And so on.
- February 22nd, 2015on Palace of Books, essays by Roger Grenier, translated by Alice Kaplan (University of Chicago Press)
Among the last living greats of post-WWII French literature, Roger Grenier seems to have known everyone and done everything. Now at 96, he has produced perhaps his final book, Palace of Books, a collection of ten essays on writing, writers, and readers. But Grenier shows little of the summing-up impulse, no wish to memorialize his bookshelves, promulgate standards, or crown champions.
- February 16th, 2015
The term “pitch perfect” is applied so liberally in book reviews that one hesitates to use it at all -- a modifier for language awarded credibility because it sounds familiar. But aren’t the most engaging presences strangely themselves, alluring because they reward our aptitude for discovery? And what of voices daring to integrate “pitches” that are usually regarded as antithetical?
- January 30th, 2015on Breathturn Into Timestead: Collected Later Poetry of Paul Celan, trans. by Pierre Joris (Farrar Straus & Giroux)
“Paul Celan more than any other poet poised the word against its affiliations,” said Heather McHugh, one of several Anglophone translators of Celan’s poetry. Reading his work, one may also wonder if his words are poised against translators.
- January 27th, 2015
Now in its sixth edition of 1,154 pages, David Thomson’s The New Biographical Dictionary of Film looks like a reference book. But it often reads like a collection of more than 1,400 droll job performance reviews. Here is part of Thomson’s newly added entry on Tina Fey: