Igor Posner’s untitled photograph (below) is from his newly released book, Past Perfect Continuous. Mary Di Lucia’s response to that photograph, titled “A Brief History of Mid-Century Portraiture” (also below), is excerpted from her new collection, titled Accompaniments. The companion books are newly out on Red Hook Editions. [Read more…]
A new day comes
like something you cannot name.
And perhaps because once again,
you must bend yourself
to the task of living
you begin to hack your way
through the mute glyphs
and weird print of your own thinking.
Searching among the splayed alphabet
of time and space
for the word’s cordite shape. [Read more…]
Was it all a dream—
I mean those old bygone days—
Were they all what they seemed?
All night long I lie awake
listening to autumn rain.
This poem from the Zen monk, Ryokan, could serve as an emblematic preface to Haruki Murakami’s Men Without Women. Claustrophobic poignancy and stringent wistfulness, shot through with quirky humor, characterize the autumn-flavored tone of the seven stories comprising the collection. [Read more…]
1949 | 2017
Excerpted from Jesus’ Son
Car Crashing While Hitchhiking
A salesman who shared his liquor and steered while sleeping . . . A Cherokee filled with bourbon . . . A VW no more than a bubble of hashish fumes, captained by a college student . . .
And a family from Marshalltown who headonned and killed forever a man driving west out of Bethany, Missouri . . .
. . . I rose up sopping wet from sleeping under the pouring rain, and something less than conscious, thanks to the first three of the people I’ve already named–the salesman and the Indian and the student–all of whom had given me drugs. At the head of the entrance ramp I waited without hope of a ride. What was the point, even, of rolling up my sleeping bag when I was too wet to be let into anybody’s car? I draped it around me like a cape. The downpour raked the asphalt and gurgled in the ruts. My thoughts zoomed pitifully. The travelling salesman had fed me pills that made the linings of my veins feel scraped out. My jaw ached. I knew every raindrop by its name. I sensed everything before it happened. I knew a certain Oldsmobile would stop for me even before it slowed, and by the sweet voices of the family inside it I knew we’d have an accident in the storm.
I didn’t care. They said they’d take me all the way. [Read more…]
A Third Gender: Beautiful Youths in Japanese Edo-Period Prints and Paintings (1600–1868)
at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto
excerpted from a review by Ian Buruma
Read the full review in the May 11, 2017 issue of New York Review of Books, or read it on site at nybooks.com
Lusting after pretty teenage boys was not considered shameful in premodern Japan. Experienced older women did it. Young women did too. Older men indulged in it (as long as the boys were passive sexual partners). Adultery was not permitted, on the other hand, and it was unseemly for grown men to love other grown men. But the love of older men for young boys, a practice called shudo, literally “the way of boy love,” was considered, especially during the eighteenth century, and notably among samurai, to be a mark of erotic discernment. [Read more…]
I was on the phone with my father and I can’t remember exactly how we got to the part of the conversation we were destined to get to—the part of the conversation everyone was destined to get to—as we watched the unfathomable unfold on that morning of September 11, 2001. Two flights out of Boston bound, on paper anyway, for the city I was calling my father from on an otherwise normal Tuesday morning.
George W. Bush had been president for all of eight months. [Read more…]
“He believed in an infinite series of times, in a growing, dizzying net of divergent, convergent and parallel times. This network of times which approached one another, forked, broke off, or were unaware of one another for centuries, embraces all of possibilities of time.” — Jorge Luis Borges, “The Garden of Forking Paths”
One could imagine Borges, who declared that the basic devices of fantastic literature are four-fold—the work within the work, the contamination of reality by dream, the voyage in time, and the double—as personal timekeeper and Virgil-visioned guide to Paul Auster, who for the past half a century has trafficked in existential loops and slipknots, identity crises and vanishing acts. Auster, whether writing fiction or non-fiction, writing in the first person or third person, has always haunted his own writings, sort of as the negative imprint of a splitting point. [Read more…]
Henry Miller’s The Time of the Assassins
Reviewed by John Biscello
“This time we have him: we know where Arthur Rimbaud, the great Rimbaud, the real Rimbaud, the Rimbaud of Illuminations is. This is not a decadent hoax. We are declaring that we know the real hiding place of the famous missing poet” —La France moderne, Feb 19-March 4, 1891 [Read more…]
Reviewed by John Biscello
In many respects a window is a writer’s best friend. It can give the unrelenting “I” a break from inner-space-gazing, extend depth and perspective, offer slice-of-life unscripted cinema, frame the world in manageable portions. It is also the voyeur’s privileged peephole, and this is the spy-glass through which Ann Nietzke covers the whirligig waterfront of Venice, California. [Read more…]
Reviewed by John Biscello
“To be human is to transform; to be human is to name, then name anew. I must remember the inseparable nature of word and action.” Erin Currier, 6 November, 2004 [Read more…]