- January 18th, 2017on 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.
- January 8th, 2017
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”).
- December 21st, 2016
“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.
- December 15th, 2016
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.
- December 10th, 2016on The Crime of Jean Genet by Dominique Eddé, translated by Andrew Rubens and Ros Schwartz (Seagull Books)
The French novelist and activist Dominique Eddé met Jean Genet in 1975 when she was 22 years old and he was 65. They were introduced by the French-Moroccan novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun. Eddé was born in Beirut – and at the moment she met Genet, the Lebanese civil war had just begun.
- December 7th, 2016
In a brief essay on Eudora Welty’s collection The Bride of the Innisfallen, Peter Orner asserts that “The Burning” “is the story that comes closest to failure, and so the writer loves it all the more.” When a writer wades into the making with unknowingness, the outcome is in doubt. A residue of obliviousness remains in the finished work making it all the more beloved.