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…

The Lyric LangPo Alarm: Rae Armantrout

Rae Armantrout’s poetry is informed by two key sources: first, the radical poetics of 1960s San Francisco; second, the terse verse forms of William Carlos Williams, whose poetry she first…

Last Rhapsody at Marienbad

Ben Mazer, now in his forties, looks like a terribly serious man in his photographs. He wants us to take his poetry seriously too. He publishes rarely and gravely: the…

Sex & Lies in Vintage Hollywood: Chuck Palahniuk‘s Tell-All

Told from the perspective of a surly, intelligent assistant-to-a-star Miss Hazie Coogan, Tell-All is a delicious slap in the face of an archetypal Hollywood of yesteryear. Like his previous novel…

A Herman Melville Summer Vacation

For years I had wanted to visit the house where Herman Melville finished writing Moby-Dick. I knew it was in the Berkshires, and on a visit this summer to the area,…

Luka Pilgrim Saves the World

A book like Luka and the Fire of Life, the latest novel from Salman Rushdie, warrants a personal response. It is tempting (perhaps even easy) to write about the literary elements…

The Audacity of Veracity

1. Historical fiction is an audacious enterprise forever at risk of succumbing to arrogance. After countless hours of painstaking research into an historical event or figure of interest, what could…

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…

The Tidiest of Sprawl

Midway through Jonathan Franzen’s massive new novel, Freedom, Richard Katz, a commercially and critically neglected punk rocker, forms a new alt-country band called Walnut Surprise. The move pays immediate dividends: Walnut…

Frivolous Flesh and Stoical Bone: Daryl Hine

For the last 10 or 20 years—until now—one needed to excavate the poet Daryl Hine in order to read him. Most of his work was out of print, almost forgotten,…

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