Ron Slate's blog

on The Art of Rivalry: Four Friendships, Betrayals, and Breakthroughs in Modern Art, by Sebastian Smee (Random House)

I was going to begin by saying that if you are a writer or artist, it is impossible to read Sebastian Smee’s The Art of Rivalry without reflecting on your professional antagonisms. But of course in any profession, especially among its innovators, there is always competition, scorekeeping, come-uppance, and counterattack.

on Memoirs of a Polar Bear, a novel by Yoko Tawada, trans. by Susan Bernofsky (New Directions)

In 2002, a collection of stories by Yoko Tawada called Überseezungen was published in Germany. The term was coined by Tawada from the words Übersee (“overseas”) and Zungen (“tongues”).

on Am I Alone Here? by Peter Orner (Catapult)

“For a long time I thought reading would somehow make me a better writer,” says Peter Orner, one of our better writers. “Now I see how ludicrous this is. All the glorious Chekhov in thirteen volumes won’t help me write a sentence that breathes. That comes from somewhere else, somewhere out in the world, where mothers die in car accidents and daughters hide the pain.

on Almost Nothing To Be Scared Of, poems by David Clewell (University of Wisconsin Press)

David Clewell has never been hesitant about spelling things out – what he sees, what he loves, how he feels and how we should feel about how he feels. He may be America’s most reliably engaging poet of unabashedly giving a damn. He gives praise and advice. No coyness, no mistaking who’s talking to whom.

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