Sorry I hurt you, but
They say love is a virtue
Our music editor Anna-Lynne is in love with “Sea of Love” by The National so hard that she selected it to be our song of the month for November. The track comes from the band’s 2013 album Trouble Will Find Me.
Buy “Sea of Love” on Amazon.
- for the man who was Pier Paolo Pasolini
for your cadaverous jaw and thin lips, for your meticulous fingers lighting cigarette after cigarette, for your body bone sleek and for speed, one hand on the wheel of a Fiat, for your films and your poems filled with criminals, liars, gluttons, and hypocrites, for the martyrs you made of them and their corpses, for the hell where you sent them, for the hell that you scorned, for the way I covered my eyes and my ears, for the way you forced them open to street after street fenced in by inarticulate buildings, for the whore, her youth spent, her face at one window imagining the city as somehow still hers, for the hell that is hers, for the boys, for the beautiful boys, for the illiterate boys, for the obscenities they screamed and for the way you clutched them and kissed them wide-mouthed, for the graffiti you sprayed in black and in blood on your body, on theirs and on mine in black ink and blood, for the hell that you sounded, and for your God, deaf and used up, for your devouring soul-crushing God, for the God you erased and the one to whom you lit candles, for your God, Pier, he lies alone in a small room on the outskirts of Rome, and he weeps, for those weeping, for those who were weeping still weep, for the woman’s face, which is my face, still at the window.
The Valley of Amazement: Mondays Margins" width="150" height="150" class="alignright size-thumbnail wp-image-11784" title="Enter The Valley of Amazement: Mondays Margins" />New books to be released the week of November 4, 2013:
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan: “Inspired by what she has conjectured about her own grandmother’s life, Tan (The Joy Luck Club) has centered a decades-long family saga on the complex and closed world of Shanghai’s ‘flower houses,’ where courtesans entertain gentlemen customers.” (USA Today)
This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett: “Calling Ann Patchett’s new book This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage a collection of essays is like calling a crime scene a bunch of photo-ops, or the Great Smokies an arboretum.” (Asheville Citizen-Times)
The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg: “Structured much like Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, Flagg’s latest novel alternates between the pedestrian life of Sookie Poole, a timid middle-aged southern woman and that of her brash, adventurous ancestry, a quartet of polish sisters who ran a filling station and flew planes during WWII.” (Publishers Weekly)
Red Sky in Morning by Paul Lynch: “Dublin journalist Paul Lynch’s first novel, Red Sky in Morning…is set in 19th century Ireland. The book tells the story and aftermath of a murder committed by a rage-filled farmer against the landlord who evicts him.” (NPR)
New books entering the world this week that will enrich your literary existence:
A Life in Books by Warren Lehrer: “Lehrer constructs the life of fictional author Bleu Mobley through 101 book covers of Mobley titles, including The Phenomenology of Lint and Peace Is Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Kill.” (Time Out New York)
At Night We Walk in Circles by Daniel Alarcón: “At Night We Walk in Circles is set in an unnamed, war-scarred Latin American country. The book follows young actor and aspiring playwright Nelson as he traverses his nation, performing in a provocative play called The Idiot President.” (NPR interview)
Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn: “Hilburn’s biography, based on interviews with Cash and those close to him, unearths new details about Cash’s personal problems, from his guilt at not being a better father to decades of bad behavior and occasionally bad music.” (Boston Globe)
And take a look at free excerpts from the 2013 National Book Award finalists.
Time, so impatient!
Snowflakes land on my eyelashes
as I step into the yard
to mow the lawn.
A ripe cherry
into my hand.
Icicles on the roof
melt a moment later.
mix with blooming flowers.
Every question I ask
is answered in another life.
Every person I love
before I can tell them about it.
Rick Benjamin is the State Poet of Rhode Island. He teaches or has taught at Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, the MFA Program in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College, in many schools, and in community & assisted living centers — where he has passed good time in the company of people who range in age from six to ninety-six. He also serves as a Fellow at New Urban Arts — an afterschool arts mentoring program for Providence high school students. His poems & essays have appeared in PRØOF, Watershed, The Providence Journal, Tongue, 350.org, The Writer’s Circle, American Poets in the 21st Century: The New Poetics (Wesleyan University Press), Urthona: An International Buddhist Journal of the Arts, Poem, Home: An Anthology of Ars Poetica (Paper Kite Press), and La Petite Zine. He lives with his family in a very small village in the smallest state.
J. Dee Cochran: In Passing Love, poems like “Delivery” and “Dream of My Twin’s Allergic Reaction” complicate the idea of self through the idea of twin(s). “Delivery” starts with ants crawling over the twin children and ends with the wonderful lines, “…witnessing my stings/in your eyes, I do not remember/which of us cried first.” Could you talk about how being a twin has influenced your relationship to language?
Rick Benjamin: You are the first person to ask this question, one that speaks to so much of my work, I think. Twinship—I am a twin who also has twin sons of his own—is a very formative aspect of both my identity & creative process: one of my earliest images is of sitting in a bathtub with my brother, splashing, laughing, & being wholly unaware of selfhood involving a single identity. I gravitate toward duplicity in language, simply stated multiple meanings in lines. I have a hard time with differentiating self from other. What happens to me must also be happening to someone else simultaneously; language finding its way into form feels to me like finding kindred spirits. It is a very fluid rather than fixed medium for me, & poems have always provided a means for discovering, in any moment, what that kind of identity (communal rather than individual) might mean.
JDC: “Work” is a beautiful poem, written mostly in couplets, which emphasizes the motif of hands–that turn over stones or raise a cup to a dying mother’s lips. After reading the poem, I wondered what specific jobs prefaced your life as poet and if these positions induced a need for creative work. Do any stand out in your mind as igniting a need for poetic consciousness and expression?
RB: This is also such an interesting & provocative question. I suppose anyone in his fifties has, by now, held many jobs. “Work” takes place in a hospital, & I worked in one once: I used to spend some of my breaks in Labor & Delivery, wondering at the fact that so many babies arrived looking old & wrinkled, as if at the end rather than the beginning of something; that was a formative observation. I have worked as a janitor in a strip-mall—that taught me that I needed to treat all labors with the same quality of attention: how one cleans a toilet or does the dishes matters as much as how one enters a poem. I spent many years working in the non-profit sector, doing meaningful work that had little effect in terms of alleviating suffering. I am now more suspicious of organizations & efforts that seek to systematize solutions for simple challenges, like, say, providing support & solace. These days everything I do, creatively & otherwise, involves me in building communities with others: teaching, facilitating workshops with elders, thirteen year olds, high school students, being a fellow (read: building relationships) at a local community arts-education organization), writing with others—all of these keep me grounded in very direct, non-precious way of working.
JDC: Lucille Clifton, Adrienne Rich, Ruth Stone, Robert Hass, and Kevin Young are some of your favorite contemporary poets. Are there also prose writers who influence your poetry and/or thought process?
RB: Yes. Virginia Woolf, Gabriel Garcia Marquez & Toni Morrison all immediately come to mind. Woolf was an early example to me of a prose-writer whose thinking could be so compressed that it in turn pressed language into lyrical & musical terrain. I respond to resonances, reverberations, sonic depths of all kinds. I deeply appreciate writers whose work is invested in plumbing depths with sounds & images, with sensations as much as thought. I can still be utterly transported by any one of her books in precisely this way. Her work tends always toward the transcendent. This is, I suppose, more literally true of Marquez’s work. Though many people have talked about his surrealistic tendencies, I tend to think of this kind of “magic” in language as the way the world simply is, which is also to say, “uncanny” & “mysterious.” It was so important in my early twenties to come upon a writer whose representations of reality actually stretched the possibilities for what it meant to be human. Like Woolf, who she credits with influencing her own work, Toni Morrison writes prose like a poet. She has a near-perfect ear & you can hear it in almost every one of her sentences. Though her creative life has moved from one of being a consummate story-teller in the novel form (Song of Solomon is the best example of this trait) to a slighter, more suggestive teller of tales, I gratefully receive & read all of her books. She needs language less now; I can, myself, feel that impulse as I grow older: the desire to distill life experience as well as the more ineffable aspects of being human into something almost evanescent.
JDC: One of your goals as Rhode Island’s Poet Laureate is to initiate a statewide poets-in-the-schools program. As you work toward that goal, what challenges do you face?
RB: Funding, first & foremost, though, to be honest, I think the money required for such an endeavor is modest. I’m also quite interested & invested in creating opportunities for teachers to get back to their own work as poets & writers, by offering free workshops (over extended periods of time) each spring designed to both further their own learning & take seriously their own work & passions. Again, I think the funding needed for such an undertaking is minimal, though I do believe that all artists should be well compensated for facilitating workshops of any kind! New initiatives, like Rhode Island Teaching Artist Center (RITAC), are promising steps in my hopes for statewide programs that engage poets of all ages in many different settings, including schools.
JDC: Admirably, your work as a poet coexists with your work in the community. Having worked with high school students and elders, I’m wondering if you observe generational differences in how poetry is received and/or practiced?
RB: This question makes me smile, as I remember that, four years ago, when I first started working with this group of elders at an assisted living center, they reminded me very much of high school students. All of them were reluctant to write, just about everyone professed to dislike poetry. I encountered multiple resistances to my offerings of poetry & opportunities for poetic expression. Just like walking into most high school classrooms! But, of course, I also love this particular challenge & don’t find it particularly daunting. Most people only think they dislike poetry. It’s easy, most of the time, to demonstrate why it’s wise & relevant & of benefit in a human life. Though I’m not a spoken-word poet, I believe always in giving voice to poetry. I offer up poems in the oral tradition, very much as if they are just part of a large & long conversation. That helps with elders (many of whom don’t see so well any more) and with high school students (many of whom are simply wary of passing more paper around). In each case I am always interested to see how much we can accomplish in perversely small increments of time (maybe we only have 25 minutes to write together!) while honoring fully the lives we are bringing to the table. So I say, fast & loose, &, say, about ninety years or so at the assisted living center; & I remind high school students that 45 minutes is also being added to, say, seventeen years. That’s a long time to simmer—no use wasting our time together wishing it was longer!
JDC: “Justice, truth, and beauty are sisters and comrades. With these three such beautiful words we have no need to look for any others.” In Human Personality, Simone Weil noted these words as the most essential to her life and work. If you were forced to pick three such words, what might they be and why?
RB: Again, this is such a lovely question. I don’t know how I can offer up anything better than what Weil says. But, in the interests of candor, my three words would be, “curiosity, love, & mystery”—in this companionable linguistic space is also the room for more fully evolving, for living in more enlightened ways, & for stretching toward something more life-affirming generally on this planet in our lives & work.
JDC: Of all the poems you have written, do you have a favorite? If so, could you share a few lines from it and why it has a special place within your body of work?
RB: O, no! What Christopher Lydon calls his Proust questions! I am unable even to come up with even a favorite meal, movie or book. I have many favorites of everything. This would go better if you asked me to name fifty poems of my own that I like. But in the interests of at least trying to answer your question, I am thinking at this very moment of the closing lines of a poem called “A Superhero” in Floating World, which I think of from time to time: “Solace comes when called/to the occasion, reaching into the wound/of the body that will also betray you.” Callings that are also at once ultimate sacrifices, acknowledgements that the self is inextricably bound with the lives of others. Twinship!
JDC: How was the experience of writing Floating World different from writing Passing Love?
RB: Very different. For one thing, my editors immediately cut 23 poems from the book which they felt belonged in another book (& which is now turning out to be true). I thought I had a very clear trajectory at that point in terms of moving back & forth between the mystical & the mundane. The shorter book I was thrown back into working with feels like a different creature, one that surprised me when it finally “arrived.” Passing Love, on the other hand, while it went through many stages of revision & editing, was clear to me from the beginning in both its structure & content, & remained so. Incidentally, the last poem in Passing Love is called “Ukiyo-e,” which roughly translates from the Japanese into “floating world,” emphasizing impermanence, the fleeting qualities of a human life, evanescence. I kind of like picking up where I’d left off.
JDC: While revising your poems are there certain people who you consult to give you feedback? What does your revision process look like?
RB: Yes. The poet, Shin Yu Pai is one of my first readers, as is the writer (& one of my former students), Sara Nolan. I trust both of them completely to respond honestly & astutely to my work. I love revising. For me it is a way of visiting all the things in a poem that I didn’t already know about, of honoring the unconscious. I generally trust that the raw material gets out in the drafting process, but that I won’t know what it really means until I’ve engaged in a process of revision. Revising is exciting, edge-of-seat suspenseful: I can’t wait to find out what I was really getting at.
JDC: One gets the sense while reading your poetry that the spirit is as important (if not more important) as the physical body. Do you subscribe to a belief system? If so, how does this enhance your poetic terrain?
RB: I’m not sure that I differentiate any more between body & spirit, except, perhaps, to recognize that one goes on while the other invariably disintegrates or reintegrates (like something composting into some new state of becoming). When I was a boy I had the capacity to leave my body during times of brutality, which led me to experience a kind of body-spirit split, but my adult life has been full of moments where the two have been remarkably in concert, even companionable. I am a practicing Buddhist, by the way, & of course this informs my creative life (& vice-versa), though I am interested in the mystical in just about any faith tradition.
JDC: What are you working on now? Do you anticipate another book any time soon?
RB: I am simultaneously working now on two new books: one is a new book of poetry, the other is about the work that poetry helps us to do in our lives. The first is nearly done & in a process of shaping (which means that it might arrive on someone’s bed-side table two years from now—ah, the vagaries of publishing! The other is ongoing. My monthly newspaper column means that I am almost always writing (or at least thinking about) this other book, but it might also mean that I’m going to be at it for quite a while.
The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt’s first book in ten years, comes out Tuesday. James Wood writes: “Like the rest of us, Donna Tartt ages; but her fiction is going the other way. Her new novel…is a virtual baby: it clutches and releases the most fantastical toys. Its tone, language, and story belong to children’s literature.”
A New York Times profile of Tartt explains: ”For nearly 800 pages, the book asks deep questions: whether it is possible to be good, what part love plays in our behavior and what in life is true and lasting.”
As Tartt told Identity Theory in 2002: “I like spending a long time with a project. There’s a level of richness that one gets if a whole decade is put into a book that is just not possible if you spend two or three years on it…it gives the book a hidden weight. It’s a hidden anchor. You can feel the time that’s been put into it.”
Charles Blackstone’s novel Vintage Attraction also hits shelves this week. People magazine writes: “Vintage Attraction is told through the eyes of an English professor (Peter) who writes a letter to his favorite TV wine expert (Izzy) and ends up marrying her after a whirlwind four months of dating. The ups and downs of their love story will hit home with anyone who has fallen hard and fast for a partner.”
Read Blackstone’s short story “Unsaid” in our fiction archives.
Fans of Philip Roth can dig into a new biography/”critical evaluation” of the author, Roth Unbound: A Writer and His Books by Claudia Roth Pierpont, this week, while Beatlemaniacs get All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Beatles Release by Philippe Margotin, Patti Smith and others.
Lawrence Coates has won Gulf Coast magazine’s Barthelme Prize for Short Prose.
Tomorrowland)" src="http://www.identitytheory.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/joseph-bates-e1381930909993.jpg" width="200" height="266" title="Author Q&A;: Joseph Bates (Tomorrowland)">/em>)">Joseph Bates is the author of Tomorrowland: Stories (Curbside Splendor, 2013) and The Nighttime Novelist (Writer’s Digest, 2010). His short fiction has appeared in such journals as The Rumpus, New Ohio Review, South Carolina Review, Fresh Boiled Peanuts, and InDigest Magazine. His short story “How We Made a Difference” was published in Identity Theory in 2008. He teaches in the creative writing program at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Visit him online at www.josephbates.net.
In what way do you think literature has the ability to change the way people live their lives?
I’m not convinced that it does, though I’d like to believe. I get hopeful when studies come out showing how fiction lights up the parts of the brain associated with empathy—one study was in the news just in the last few days—and of course that relationship between text and reader is what sets fiction apart from more passively-enjoyed arts like film. In fiction you’re able to share a consciousness with someone else for a time…but does that really make for a more empathetic person? Even if readers have a greater ability to understand and connect with others’ points of view, I’m still not sure they have any greater inclination to do so in real life. If anything, fiction maybe allows for the opposite revelation—when you read a novel or story, from your part of the world or from another, from today or a century ago, and suddenly you realize, Someone out there knows what it’s like to be me. There’s not just a wonderful surprise but a relief in that. I don’t know if that changes the way you live your life, but at least it reassures you that you’re not as alone as you thought.
What was the last book you gave as a present?
Amber Sparks’ amazing May We Shed These Human Bodies. (I actually gave away several copies and had to keep buying another for myself.) Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Rachel Pollack’s 78 Degrees of Wisdom, a book on the Tarot, are probably the two I have to replace most often. All spooky good.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
It took me a long time to learn restraint, especially in terms of humor. Early on in my writing, I never met a joke I didn’t like, never passed up an opportunity to make one. But naturally if everything is funny in a story, then nothing is…really, it was a kind of avoidance, rather than looking at the more difficult emotions or subjects within a premise, even a kind of defense mechanism (as humor often is). Anyway it was Brock who called me out on it, and especially who opened my eyes to the fact that humor can work so much more subversively (and sophisticatedly) than I’d been using it. Even as a path to serious subjects, to sentiment. That absolutely changed my writing.
Which author do you re-read most frequently?
I read Kafka over and over again, especially “The Metamorphosis” and “A Country Doctor,” as well as Calvino’s Cosmicomics. I reread Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son every semester with my students and find something new in it every time.
What is the best sentence you’ve ever read?
For sheer music, it’s hard to beat the last line of Gatsby: “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” Though I also love the turnaround in this line from Calvino’s “At Daybreak,” where the narrator has just watched his sister disappear into the newly-forming Earth as the Big Bang cools into matter: “My sister had remained in there, and I never found out whether she had stayed buried in those depths or whether she had reached safety on the other side until I met her, much later, at Canberra in 1912, married to a certain Sullivan, a retired railroad man, so changed I hardly recognized her.”
Describe your writing routine.
I have two routines, depending on what time of year it is. I teach, so a lot of my work gets done in the summer, when I binge-write. I’m usually up by 8 and out the door by 9, and I park it at a favorite coffee shop and get as much writing done before I’ve had a chance to properly wake up. No looking at news or email…I’ve got to get started before I’ve begun to overthink anything. I’ll work until I can’t anymore, mid-afternoon, then go home and take care of my animals and sit a little bit, read or play a video game or watch baseball, before I go back in the early evening for a little more. I stick to that summer schedule pretty religiously, six or seven days a week, because I know that, once the school year starts, I’m probably down to every other day or night, or sometimes even just the weekend when things are hectic. I do keep up writing in the school year, sitting down as often as possible, but I prefer to immerse myself in it, even though it’s sometimes tough to come back to planet earth when I do.
Do you ever listen to music when you write? If so, what’s on your playlist?
Absolutely! Vangelis’s Blade Runner score is my go-to writing music…there are probably half-a-dozen bootleg versions out there, all this great space detective blues. Classical can be great if I need help finding a particular tone—for something otherworldly, for example, Holst’s “Neptune, the Mystic” or Debussy’s “Sirènes.” Ravel’s String Quartet in F Major is in heavy rotation. Both in the writing and editing phases of Tomorrowland I found myself listening a lot to Aram Khachaturian’s “Adagio” from Gayane, which Kubrick famously used in 2001. I’d just let it run on repeat for hours. Sometimes I listen to stuff with lyrics, but only if I’m feeling my energy drag and need a push. Eldorado by ELO is a good one, or The Very Best of Marvin Gaye.
Tomorrowland)" src="http://www.identitytheory.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/tomorrowland-cover-e1381931135406.jpg" width="200" height="320" title="Author Q&A;: Joseph Bates (Tomorrowland)">/em>)">Best bookstore you’ve ever been to?
I just went to The Strand for the first time on a trip to NY in support of Tomorrowland, and felt wonderfully overwhelmed by it. I have very fond memories of the used bookstore I’d go to when I was a kid, where I first bought armloads of comic books and, later, armloads of Stephen King and Ray Bradbury. I’m probably a writer in no small part because of those trips, where my allowance would go up in a blaze of glory.
If you were standing in line at a bookstore and noticed the person in front of you was holding your latest book, what would you say to them?
“No backup copy?”
What literary landmark would you most like to visit?
Kafka’s home and gravesite. Whenever I have friends or former students go visit, they’ll sweetly tag me in the photos, so it looks like I’ve been there a bunch of times with many different people. I’ve already been to Graceland and Wrigley Field, so Prague is the only pilgrimage I’ve got left.
Do you own an e-reader?
I do, though I don’t use it as often as I first thought I would. Turns out I’m too much of an underliner and dog-earer.
Is Facebook good for you?
In terms of my writing life, mostly. Every day I see interesting articles or interviews come through, new (or new-to-me) stories being shared, or authors I’d like to check out. And it helps me know what’s going on in the writing community around town and campus, and keep up with my talented friends whose successes I want to celebrate. Plus I’m addicted to it. So there’s that.
What about Amazon?
To voice mixed feelings on Amazon would also be to reveal my hypocrisy, since I order books from Amazon all the time, and since every author with a book out knows that Amazon rankings and reviews play a role in how it gets received by the public, even in terms of brick-and-mortar transactions. Amazon can’t compete with what a brick-and-mortar bookstore does, and will never replace them for me…and of course a brick-and-mortar store can’t compete with what Amazon does. There’s room for both.
What job have you held that was most helpful for your writing?
My current one, as a teacher of creative writing. Every day I get to hang out with bright, gifted young people who love fiction and want to talk about what makes it work. It’s a tough job, and demands a lot of time and energy, but I can’t imagine being as happy anywhere else.
What is one of your vices?
Smoking. I need to quit.
What is one of your prejudices?
People who talk during a movie. Or, more generally, people who never learned how to whisper.
Favorite books you’ve read in the past year?
Alissa Nutting’s Tampa, Brian Evenson’s Windeye, Charles Yu’s Third-Class Superhero, Amber Sparks’ May We Shed These Human Bodies, and every book by my incredibly talented friends and labelmates, and every book due from them soon. I have the good fortune at the moment of reading Lee Upton’s forthcoming The Tao of Humiliation, winner of the BOA Short Fiction Award, an absolutely gorgeous book I hope finds a huge audience.
New books this week from the Rice clan and others:
The Wolves of Midwinter: The Wolf Gift Chronicles by Anne Rice: “It’s Christmastime along the Northern California coast, and newly turned man-wolf Reuben Golding is comfortably relaxing inside a mansion. But what’s that stirring about in the adjoining redwood forest?” (Sacramento Bee)
The Heavens Rise by Christopher Rice: “Best-selling novelist Christopher Rice is back with the supernatural thriller The Heavens Rise, his first foray — believe it or not — into a genre that his mother, Anne Rice, has dominated since before he was born.” (The Advocate)
The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt: “Leavitt is a fluent, clever writer with a habit of playing with historical fact — which explains what might seem the failings of this curious and yet absorbing book. It isn’t so much a story as it is a piece of writing about the writing of the story of people in a situation like this. ” (New York Times)
Norman Mailer: A Double Life by J. Michael Lennon: “Lennon, a personal friend and the literary executor of Mailer’s estate, had access to a trove of unpublished letters and interviews. The result, written in a measured and sometimes dry style, stresses the extremes of ugliness and compassion that defined the author’s life and work.” (Publishers Weekly)
Guests on Earth by Lee Smith: “Greatly anticipated as a look into Zelda Fitzgerald’s fire-consumed stay at Highland Hospital in Asheville, it resonates most of all as a cry of love for society’s misfits.” (Asheville Citizen-Times)
It’s the 87th birthday of Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, author of more than 100 books, including Being Peace, Peace is Every Step, and Living Buddha, Living Christ. Devoted to social justice, Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967. Here are ten of his best quotes on reality, peace, and the cessation of suffering:
“My actions are my only true belongings.”
“Our own life has to be our message.”
“To think in terms of either pessimism or optimism oversimplifies the truth. The problem is to see reality as it is.”
“If you suffer and make your loved ones suffer, there is nothing that can justify your desire.”
“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
“It is my conviction that there is no way to peace – peace is the way.”
“A real love letter is made of insight, understanding, and compassion. Otherwise it’s not a love letter. A true love letter can produce a transformation in the other person, and therefore in the world. But before it produces a transformation in the other person, it has to produce a transformation within us. Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write.”
“The problem is whether we are determined to go in the direction of compassion or not. If we are, then can we reduce the suffering to a minimum? If I lose my direction, I have to look for the North Star, and I go to the north. That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star. I just want to go in that direction.”
“We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds- our own prejudices, fears and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come. ”
SALT FOR KATHARINA
After the walk, we stood awhile
at the park gate, unsure of what to say. A residue
of sweat stained your shirt, white-grained
against blue fabric, the fluidity of the body wicked away
at the sun’s insistence. A mineralization
coated my skin as well, a thin shell that could not blunt
the silence between us, its point and thrust.
Children ran along the pavement, keeping kites
aloft in the still sky; brown lawns wavered, watery
in the convection lift over the tarmac
(all this we looked at to not look
at each other). We might have been playing statues or standing in
as sundials for the latter days
of summer as the dry sun sank toward the western suburbs
splaying my shadow across your face. Salinity reminds us we are
bodies. And whether our awkwardness was bodily
desire shied from or a lack of common ground,
we stood our ground. Katharina,
here is a remembrance of what the laundry washed away –
the parching sun, tall grass, a wrought iron gate,
you turning away, leaving to catch the last train, last words
left unsaid, silent on lips that tasted of salt.
In the thronging of song, all is lost
to incoherence. Above this mango tree
floats a moon the color of a burnt mango.
Tonight, I will sing the scope
of a body that molts
and breaks apart.
What does it mean to be a voice
when what I say will be said
again or rather is being said
even now by another?
For years, earth stopped
my throat. Now I join in cacophony
beneath a flowering mango.
The Circle by Dave Eggers: “Eggers has written a nearly 500-page satire of the tech world while appearing to have little interest in the actual tech world.” (Slate)
Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III: “The master of naturalistic New England fiction returns with a book of four loosely connected short works that showcases his Dreisarian abilities at their most trenchant.” (Publishers Weekly)
Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk: “My new book, Doomed, features a series of electronic dispatches from the Great Beyond.” (Chuck Palahniuk’s Reddit Ask Me Anything)
Longbourn by Jo Baker: “Longbourn is not just nicely packaged fan fiction, or an Austenian Downton Abbey; it’s an engrossing tale we neither know nor expect.” (The Telegraph)
And more links:
The Daily Routines of History’s Most Creative Minds at The Guardian (HT Poets & Writers)
A review of Paul Harding’s Enon by J. M. Gamble at HTMLGiant
The Jong and the Restless: Fear of Flying, forty years on, at Bookforum
1. “After Apple-Picking” by Robert Frost
My long two-pointed ladder’s sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there’s a barrel that I didn’t fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn’t pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.
2. “That time of year thou mayst in me behold (Sonnet 73)” by William Shakespeare
That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the deathbed whereon it must expire,
Consumed with that which it was nourished by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
3. “To Autumn” by John Keats
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
4. “Merry Autumn” by Paul Laurence Dunbar
It’s all a farce,—these tales they tell
About the breezes sighing,
And moans astir o’er field and dell,
Because the year is dying.
Such principles are most absurd,—
I care not who first taught ‘em;
There’s nothing known to beast or bird
To make a solemn autumn.
In solemn times, when grief holds sway
With countenance distressing,
You’ll note the more of black and gray
Will then be used in dressing.
Now purple tints are all around;
The sky is blue and mellow;
And e’en the grasses turn the ground
From modest green to yellow.
The seed burs all with laughter crack
On featherweed and jimson;
And leaves that should be dressed in black
Are all decked out in crimson.
A butterfly goes winging by;
A singing bird comes after;
And Nature, all from earth to sky,
Is bubbling o’er with laughter.
The ripples wimple on the rills,
Like sparkling little lasses;
The sunlight runs along the hills,
And laughs among the grasses.
The earth is just so full of fun
It really can’t contain it;
And streams of mirth so freely run
The heavens seem to rain it.
Don’t talk to me of solemn days
In autumn’s time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
And these grow slant and slender.
Why, it’s the climax of the year,—
The highest time of living!—
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving.
5. “Among the Rocks” by Robert Browning
Oh, good gigantic smile o’ the brown old earth,
This autumn morning! How he sets his bones
To bask i’ the sun, and thrusts out knees and feet
For the ripple to run over in its mirth;
Listening the while, where on the heap of stones
The white breast of the sea-lark twitters sweet.
That is the doctrine, simple, ancient, true;
Such is life’s trial, as old earth smiles and knows.
If you loved only what were worth your love,
Love were clear gain, and wholly well for you:
Make the low nature better by your throes!
Give earth yourself, go up for gain above!
6. “Autumn” by T.E. Hulme
A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.
7. “Spring and Fall” by Gerard Manley Hopkins
to a young child
MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow’s spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Photo by Michael Gil
In his seat, Quentin absorbed the pounding of the waves against the Verity’s hull. From the canopy’s shade, he squinted at the ever-widening wake behind the sport fishing boat. The first mate stood in the broad stern, his wide-brimmed hat bent with wind, his hand fast to the flying bridge ladder. Swaying, he draped his arm over the back of the fighting chair that looked like a throne.
The sun ascended morning sky and Bermuda became a gray line in the distance. Quentin glanced over at Beatrice. She hadn’t said a word since introductions at the marina when he turned to see the captain and first mate exchange smirks—ones that said, Yeah, if I could, I’d do her.
Nothing new, Quentin thought, they probably think she’s my daughter.
Now Beatrice looked miserable in the wind just beyond the shelter of the canopy.
She’s too hard-headed to move or say anything, Quentin thought. He always found himself concocting meanings for her silences.
She wore the faded red sweatshirt that he had insisted she bring along. The hood was up and pulled tight around her face. She stretched her arms over her head and yanked the hood down. He looked away. When he glanced again, the sweatshirt was off, and she was sitting there in a tight-fitting shirt, hugging her chest with her bare, tanned arms.
“Aren’t you cold?” Quentin shouted, pointing to the sleeve of his navy blue sweater.
She scowled and then answered, “I feel fine.”
In bed, he only used one sheet, while on her side she buried herself beneath down comforters. Her body required more than his: more heat, more alcohol, more specialized treatments, and always more attention.
“You’re covered in goose-bumps. Look at your arms.”
“Are you trying to tell me I’m wrong about the way I feel?”
He averted his eyes and feigned interest in the way the wind and light played on the water.
* * *
Twelve miles out, the captain idled the engines. Quentin welcomed the calm.
Gliding out from behind the steering wheel, the captain swept his blond hair behind his ears with his finger tips. “We’ll set the lines now,” he said.
Quentin watched him make his way to join the first mate in the stern.
After a couple of Google searches for “sport fishing Bermuda” or “Bermuda fishing charters,” Beatrice probably glimpsed his pretty face and booked his services. She just couldn’t resist, could she?
The captain and first mate knotted leaders, sharpened hooks. Each movement was practiced and efficient. They pulled line from the reels and adjusted the drag. They tied bullet-shaped lures with purple tentacles and bulging eyes onto each of the five fishing rods.
“Time for some fun,” the captain said, regaining his position behind the wheel.
Twin engines chugging, the bow lifted higher and higher. Quentin could feel the acceleration in the pit of his stomach. He grabbed the seat cushion to stop from sliding toward Beatrice. An apology for last night was in order, but he decided against saying anything. She’ll concede first this time, he thought.
* * *
For half an hour they trolled along the reef without a strike, the fishing lines glistening like spider webs behind the boat. The air heated up, and the captain handed out cans of ice-cold Heineken dripping wet from the cooler. After making quick work of hers, Beatrice requested another. Quentin nursed his beer and waited. He thought about how badly he’d reacted last night when she told him about her little surprise. He knew that the fishing trip wasn’t really for him. What words could he use to make her understand that his outburst had less to do with her and more to do with her father, Kimball?
Quentin had roomed with Kimball at Princeton and had known Beatrice her whole life. Four years ago, over drinks, Kimball made him promise that he would look after his daughter and, six months later, Kimball was dead of pancreatic cancer at the age of forty-five.
Quentin’s law firm managed Kimball’s estate. There wasn’t much money remaining after the medical bills, alimony and other debts were taken care of, so Quentin made up the shortfall in her college tuition, covered room and board, spending money, books. He paid for her spring break trips to the Caribbean and, when she was in town, he took her shopping and out to nice restaurants. She’d given him a sort of purpose and, at one point, he even wondered if he’d made a mistake not having a family of his own.
After graduation, she returned to Manhattan, wandering as a DJ and club promoter. Early one morning, a year ago, he received a text message. She was stranded in the East Village, could he come get her?
She told him about the debts, about all the failed promotions. He said he would help her. Why hadn’t she asked earlier? When she kissed him, he didn’t stop her. That was the night he decided she needed more guidance and, since then, the guilt of that decision weighed on him. Now, early each morning, as soon as he woke up and saw her, he thought, this isn’t what Kimball had in mind.
For a moment, Quentin forgot about the can in his hand and beer spilled on his khaki pants. Sipping the foam along the rim, he thought he’d better say something to her now and apologize. Before he could settle on the right words to use she raised her right arm toward the horizon.
“Look,” she said.
“Out there . . . see?”
“No, I don’t—”
He found it hard to focus with sky and water the only points of reference. Suddenly he discerned movement. A bird swooped toward the waves.
“Tell him to stop,” Beatrice commanded, gesturing toward the captain who was hunched over the steering wheel.
“You want him to stop for a bird?” Quentin said, shaking his head.
Beatrice glared back as if she’d recognized something hideous in him that she’d previously refused to acknowledge. The look of revulsion on her face startled him.
“Stop!” she shouted.
The captain jolted upright in his chair and spun around. His eyes darted to where she was pointing. A child-like grin grew on his face. As the clamor of the engines diminished to a purr, the boat slowed and pitched forward, settling into the waves. The lines slackened and the fishing rods straightened.
“It’s a finch,” the captain said, clapping his hands together. He bounded out to the stern with Beatrice following him.
The bird, its wings grazing the waves, labored toward them. “Come on!” Beatrice yelled, as if she were calling a dog.
A breeze pushed the bird along, narrowing the gap.
“Bird on board is good luck!” the captain said.
The boat dropped into the trough of a wave, and the bird cleared the side. It trembled on the deck, its wings spread.
Beatrice shrieked with excitement. Quentin couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen her so happy.
Squatting down, the first mate cupped his hands and gently scooped up the bird. Its head poked between his callused thumbs. With formality, he presented the bird to Beatrice and said, “This is his lucky day.”
“Poor bugger probably got knocked off course by the storm last night,” the captain said. He turned, winked at Quentin, and then riffled through a tangle of lures in a bin, “Time to switch-up our offering.”
While scrutinizing the three of them, Quentin shifted in his seat, doing his best to project an air of complete disinterest.
The first mate carried the bird to the cockpit and eased it onto a shelf beneath the windshield. Quentin stood, advanced a few steps, and then leaned down to study the yellow body and black-capped head. Iridescent feathers twitched with rapid, shallow breaths. The eyes blinked.
“Cute little thing,” Quentin said, loudly enough for Beatrice to hear.
“You were fine with leaving it to die out here,” she responded, bracing herself against the fighting chair. Her long auburn hair was caught up in the wind.
“It would have been fine on its own,” he said, returning to his seat.
“Try and justify another one of your poor decisions—you always do,” she said, narrowing her eyes.
The captain and first mate, their heads down, busied themselves with the fishing rods.
“Now is not the time,” Quentin said.
“Am I embarrassing you? That’s one thing I’ve always been good at, isn’t it?”
He decided that he should just keep his mouth shut.
She let go of the chair and drifted toward the shade beneath the canopy. She sat down across from him, next to the captain’s chair, her back straight as if she were posing for an etiquette manual. A smile slanted across her face and she slowly removed her t-shirt.
He could see her nipples, dark and tight beneath the white bikini top. Extending her leg across the aisle, she flexed her calf muscle. Her skin gleamed.
“Beer please,” she said, pushing her foot up under his pant leg, brushing her toes against his hairy ankle.
The way she looked now made him wish he never questioned the relationship. Keeping his eyes on her, he bent forward, opened the cooler, and thrust his hand in. After digging through the ice he held a can out to her. He could feel the stinging cold in his fingers.
* * *
Minutes later the boat was up to speed, the tips of the fishing rods twitching nervously. Beatrice stood in the aisle, hovering over the bird where it rested on the shelf. Locking eyes with the captain, she said, “Thanks for stopping.”
The captain nodded from behind the steering wheel.
Quentin pressed his hand against the small of her back. She stepped backwards, toward the stern, until he could no longer reach her.
“I’m sorry,” Quentin said, forcing a weak smile.
She regarded him for a moment, “Exactly what are you apologizing for? I can’t keep it all straight.”
A high-pitched whine cut the air, and the first mate bellowed, “Fish on!”
Quentin spotted the bouncing rod, the line pulsing from the reel. The captain throttled the boat down.
The first mate plucked the rod from its holder and yanked it over his shoulder. “Hook set,” he said.
Beatrice scrambled out into the harsh sunlight and wriggled onto the fighting chair. The first mate offered her the rod and she took hold of it, plunging the end into a metal cylinder between her legs.
“Now that we have a bird, we have a fish,” the captain said, laughing.
Beatrice dipped down and then heaved her shoulders back, her thighs shaking—all the while cranking the reel.
Quentin made his way to the stern and watched from the side. Exhaust fumes tickled his nose.
Beatrice gained ground on the fish without much trouble. The first mate stood at attention, a long silvery gaff in hand. Then the rod doubled over and the reel screamed. Beatrice bobbed with the heaving rod and the chair squeaked.
“Thought it was a wahoo,” the captain said. “Could be something bigger that didn’t know it was hooked until it saw the boat.”
The line hissed back and forth slicing through the water. Beatrice’s arms shook. Sweat glided from her shoulders down to the small of her back.
“Tired?” Quentin asked. “I can take over.”
“Don’t need your help,” she said, her face etched with determination.
“It’s making another run,” the captain said.
Beatrice surged forward and bucked with the bending rod. It looked as if she were convulsing. Quentin expected the rod to break in two. How much more could it take?
Beatrice’s shoulders smacked the back of the chair.
“No!” she shrieked. “It’s off.”
“Keep reeling,” the captain said.
The first mate searched the waves, shielding his eyes from the sun. He plunged the gaff into the water. With a grunt, he held the front half of a pointy-nosed wahoo in the air. The fish slapped the deck, bounced and slid around the stern, blood marking its trail.
“Good size—too bad a shark got hold of it on the way in,” the captain said. “We’ll get another one.”
“I hope so,” Beatrice said.
“You seem to know what you’re doing,” the captain said.
“I used to fish with my dad.”
“It shows,” he said, nodding.
“Sorry,” Quentin said.
“For what?” Beatrice said, rubbing her legs. Her thumbs making fleeting white lines in the skin of her inner thighs.
“Well . . . all that effort for nothing—”
“I’m used to it,” she said, canting forward. Her hands followed the curve of her hips and then angled up along her back. She untied the strings and the bikini top came off. She balled it up, tossed it overboard.
“What the hell are you doing?”
“I don’t want any tan lines. Relax.”
Quentin could feel his face reddening, “Put your shirt back on!”
“No,” she said, her eyes as brilliant as the surrounding turquoise waters, but much colder. “You’re not my fucking father.”
A call from the CB radio crackled through the air. The captain dashed off to answer.
The first mate pulled the brim of his hat down over his eyes and handed a yellow beach towel to Quentin. Quentin spread it open and hugged her, but she squirmed from his grasp. The towel fell to the deck, landing in a puddle of blood and water.
“I’m taking the next one too,” she said. “Get me another beer, will you?”
She sat back, closed her eyes, and lifted her face to the sun.
Quentin retreated to the shade. The captain was there, talking to someone over the CB radio about what was working at the other end of the reef. He had the boat going again. Shaking his flushed face, he stared back at Quentin as if to say, Wow, she’s a live one.
There came the high-pitched mosquito-whine of a reel, and the first mate yelling, “Fish on!” Quentin stopped himself from turning around. The captain tapped the throttle until only a gurgling sound came from the propellers.
There on the shelf, the bird lay perfectly still. The sheen over its once vibrant feathers had vanished. All the colors seemed muted now. It became important to him to remember this—the way the bird looked. Soon enough, he would be alone again. He closed his eyes and pictured himself walking through the slush of Manhattan, cold air filling his lungs.
The captain slammed the cooler shut, snapped the tab open on a beer and scurried past.
For Beatrice, Quentin thought.
He watched the bird very closely to make sure. It didn’t move. When he looked toward the stern, the captain and first mate were standing behind Beatrice, their backs to him. She was fighting another monster.
No one noticed when he stepped into the searing light, the bird dangling from his hand. He decided that when she got around to asking, he would tell her he saw it fly away. It would be easier that way.
“Brennisteinn” by Sigur Rós is our song of the month for October 2013. The track appears in the Icelandic band’s 2013 album Kveikur.
Matt Borondy, Publisher/Editor:
- The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
- Dissident Gardens by Jonathan Lethem
- Levels of Life by Julian Barnes
- The Circle by Dave Eggers
- What the Dog Knows by Cat Warren
Robert Birnbaum, Editor-at-Large:
- Local Souls by Allan Gurganus
- The Woman Who Lost Her Soul by Bob Shacochis
- The Peripatetic Coffin by Ethan Rutherford
- River of Dust by Virginia Pye
- Stay Up With Me by Tom Barbash
- The Affairs of Others by Amy Grace Loyd
- Tinkers by Paul Harding
- Enon by Paul Harding
- Brewster by Mark Slouka
- Orfeo by Richard Powers
- The Brothers by Stephen Kinzer
- “The American Exceptionalism Sweepstakes”
Sarah Weissman, Fiction Editor:
- The Color Master by Aimee Bender
- Sad Monsters by Frank Lesser
- The Coldest Girl in Cold Town by Holly Black
James Warner, Fiction Editor:
- Skinner’s Drift by Lisa Fugard
- The Game by Ken Dryden
- Kingdoms of Elfin by Sylvia Townsend Warner
- Okla Hannali by R. A. Lafferty
Jesse Rice-Evans, Nonfiction Editor:
- Intercourse by Andrea Dworkin
- The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf
- Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy
- All About Love by bell hooks
- Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino, Ronald Cotton, and Erin Totneo
- The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Hilarie Ashton, Assistant Editor:
- A Theory of Adaptation by Linda Hutcheon
- Postcolonial Shakespeare by Ania Loomba
- Gothic Tales by Chris Baldick
- Dickens and Imagination by Robert Higbie
- The Lucid Veil: Poetic Truth in the Victorian Age by W. David Shaw
- The All-True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley
J. Dee Cochran, Poetry Editor:
- This Clumsy Living by Bob Hicok
- Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy
- Advice for Lovers by Julian Brolaski
- The Book of Goodbyes by Jillian Weise
- Many Circles: New and Selected Essays by Albert Goldbarth
We hope you’re fully recovered from last week’s talk of banned books and ready to take on these new titles out this week…
David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell: “What we assume to be entrenched advantages, he says, don’t always offer the edge we may expect: top dogs beware. What’s more, personal hurdles, family troubles, social inequities—though they may look like disadvantages—can propel misfits further than risk-averse meritocrats dream.” (The Atlantic)
The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert: “The Signature of All Things is one of those rewardingly fact-packed books that make readers feel bold and smart by osmosis. Alma commits her life to ceaseless study, but reading this vibrant, hot-blooded book about her takes no work at all.” (New York Times)
T. C. Boyle Stories II by T. C. Boyle: “Death, or the threat of death, is all over these stories — or more accurately, a sense of mortality, of time zeroing in. If his earlier work was marked by a gleeful willingness to take on anything, here his focus is largely naturalistic, even when, as in ‘Dogology’ or ‘Thirteen Hundred Rats,’ he pushes the boundaries of the believable.” (Los Angeles Times)
Tomorrowland by Joseph Bates: “Tomorrowland is often charming, and proceeds briskly — but it never loses sight of the anxieties that motivate many of these stories.” (Vol. 1 Brooklyn)
It’s the birthday of Julianna Baggott. Read our 2012 interview with the author of Pure.
Norman Rush appeared on the Bat Segundo Show.
Sherman Alexie is learning to live with e-books.
In honor of Banned Books Week (Sept. 22-28), we created the Twitter hashtag #RockBannedBooks to raise awareness of books that have been banned or contested. The purpose of the hashtag is to mashup of rock band names with banned book titles (in some instances, we used songs instead of bands).
Fleetwood Macbeth by William Shakespeare
Go Ask Alice Cooper by Anonymous
Uncle Tom Petty’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
Of Mice and Men at Work by John Steinbeck
Slaughterhouse-Five for Fighting by Kurt Vonnegut (via @spotsonmyapples)
The Crowded House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (via @literatissima)
The Joy of Sex Pistols by Alex Comfort (via @literatissima)
The Diary of Anne Frank Zappa by Anne Frank (via @spotsonmyapples)
Lady Gaga’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Native Roy Orbison by Richard Wright
The Catcher in the Ry Cooder by J.D. Salinger
Are You There, Godsmack? It’s Me Margaret by Judy Blume
The Color Purple Rain by Alice Walker
Invisible Man Who Sold The World by Ralph Ellison (via @JTKLMN)
The Chocolate War (What is it Good For?) by Robert Cormier (via @substockman)
The Bluest Eye of the Tiger by Toni Morrison
Contribute to the hashtag: #RockBannedBooks
Follow us on Twitter: @identitytheory
SLEEP, by Ted Spagna" width="225" height="300" class="alignright size-full wp-image-11679" title="SLEEP, by Ted Spagna" />
“Ted Spagna’s photographs have done more than any other medium to make sleep science visible and, hence, directly understandable to the general public.” -Dr. Allan Hobson
“Like Eadweard Muybridge’s pioneering 19th-century studies of animal locomotion and Harold Edgerton’s stroboscopic feats with milk drops and flying bullets, Spagna’s ‘God’s-eye views,’ as he calls them, succeed as both art and science.” -People, Feb. 6 1989
Documentary photographer Ted Spagna began taking pictures of himself sleeping in 1975 using a time-lapse camera mounted over his bed. For the following fourteen years leading up to his untimely death in 1989, he continued to expand his sleep project, capturing images of individuals and groups of all ages in different stages of slumber. Spagna’s sleep studies were featured on various TV shows and major print media and earned a bounty of photography awards.
SLEEP (Rizzoli New York, Sept. 2013) is a 144-page collection of Spagna’s photographs from this period, made possible by his nephew Ron Eldridge and god-daughter Delia Bonfilio through The Ted Spagna Project.