On Nonfiction

With William Dean Howells to Florence

For the modern traveler, the road often leads to Florence. From a cruise ship moored in Livorno, it’s possible to inspect the Duomo, buy some souvenirs on the Ponte Vecchio,…

Continual Critique: After the After of Ecology

The texts included in The Eco Language Reader (edited by Brenda Iijima; Nightboat Books, 2010) are not attempts at one sort or another of a genre of “ecopoetics.” They remain usefully outside any…

Birds, Not (John) Cages: on Dean Young’s Art of Recklessness

In his 170-page paean to reckless impulse, Dean Young spurns consistency, “over-thinking,” and all emphasis on craft, procedures, and technique. He casts out discipline and hard work, perfection and conventional…

This is Not a Book Review

Through the tumultuous first decade of the new millennium there has flowed an ever more articulate stream of eulogies for the book review in print. Lamentations for the death of…

A Book by its Cover

It’s an unfortunate truth that—beyond making sure everything is spelt correctly—most modern publishers pay little attention to their hardcover bindings. Thousands of dollars may be devoted to design and artwork…

It Could Be Robinson Calling

Pulp Fiction re-ignited an old narrative trope that was then adopted by many clever popular films: a series of scenes, jumping from one character to another, and forward and backward…

With the Desert Surrounding

I. City of Extremes Is it possible for any one city to represent a nation as diverse and complex as America? Perhaps it is, in times of major crises, when…

Slight Arms ’Round the Cypress Bough

In January, 2010, The Guardian asked former UK poet laureate Andrew Motion, “Why are we all still so hung up on the Romantics?” It may at first seem an odd question: a…

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