Ron Slate's blog

on What Is Landscape? by John R. Stilgoe (The MIT Press)

John Stilgoe has taught the history of landscape development at Harvard for forty years, but his many books stare steadfastly out the classroom window. “Landscape mocks scholars,” he says. “Landscape perception is peculiar to each inquirer.” In his introduction to Landscape and Images (Virginia, 2004), he writes, “Landscape inveigles.

on A General Theory of Oblivion, a novel by José Eduardo Agualusa (Archipelago Books)

After achieving its independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola slipped into a 27-year period of civil war between two former liberation movements, Marxist-Leninist and anti-communist respectively. The debacle was also a proxy war between the Soviets and Americans, with Cuban militants and South African detachments thrown in the mix.

on The Importance of Elsewhere: Philip Larkin’s Photographs, by Richard Bradford (Frances Lincoln Ltd./Quarto Publishing USA)

The most well known photograph of Philip Larkin is a self-portrait he took in 1957 with his new Rolleiflex Automatic twin lens reflex and cable release, the same camera used by Brassai, Bill Brandt, and Lee Miller.

on Moscow in the Plague Year, poems by Marina Tsvetaeva, translated from the Russian by Christopher Whyte (Archipelago Books)

Marina Tsvetaeva (1892-1941) published her first book of poems, Evening Album, at age 18 in 1910. Although her second book, Mileposts, appeared in 1921, it did not include most of the poems written in the interim, “arguably the most productive [years] of her entire career” according to her latest translator, Christopher Whyte.

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