- 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:
- January 10th, 2015
Forty years after her death, Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) remains a favorite target for those who dislike -- and generally misunderstand -- her views toward Judaism and the Nazi genocide of the Jews. At the same time, Eichmann in Jerusalem, her account of his 1962 trial, continues as the most widely read book on the Holocaust.
- January 6th, 2015
In 2011, David Shields and Caleb Powell spent four days together at a cabin in the Cascade Mountains to record a conversation. “You can go all the way back to Plato’s dialogues with Socrates,” says Shields.