Books

Song: Infernal
November 19, 2008

I was lost in the middle of my life when the planes hit the towers, lost in the middle of my life when the glass gods, one at a time, cowered and fell, when a bomb of blue sky exploded a bride where she stood-- I was lost in the middle of my life, far from a leopard, far from a dark wood--  when the night clerk at Circle K handed me back too much change, I was lost in the middle of our life's way, when an army of wings arranged  on flatbed trucks brushed past me on the road, I was lost in the hallways of a glass dream, trying to find my way out to the ground turning in circles, crying secretly

Paste and Future
November 19, 2008

Scrapbooks: An American HistoryBy Jessica Helfand (Yale University Press, 244 pp., $45) Mark Twain had one. So did Anne Sexton, Lillian Hellman, Harry Wolfson of Harvard, and little Hattie Briggs of rural Michigan. I also had one, and I suspect that you did, too. I am referring to the scrapbook--that odd assemblage of memorabilia and mucilage that once ruled the roost when it came to recording the details of one's life and one's sentimental education.

The Revolt
November 19, 2008

Picture a certain banker's house and its crawl space, then imagine a circumstance in which he has to crawl. If you want to take part, imagine rats' nests and a leaking pipe, and all the plumbers in the world tired of shit, not answering their phones. For I have come to my banker's house, already having unscrewed what down below was screwed tight. I've rung his bell, and have been made to wait in the garden and take off my shoes.

The Lonely Workman
November 19, 2008

Descartes' Loneliness By Allen Grossman (New Directions, 70 pp., $16.95) At the start of Descartes' Loneliness, the tenth collection of poetry by Allen Grossman, the speaker has posed a question to the world that we, the readers, have arrived too late to hear. The book begins, in the title poem, with the world's response: Toward evening, the natural light becomes intelligent and answers, without demur: "Be assured! You are not alone..." Perhaps the question expressed solitude, even the fundamental solitude of the uncertain and inconsolable human mind.

Choosing Life
November 05, 2008

Memoirs By Hans Jonas Edited by Christian Wiese Translated by Krishna Winston (Brandeis University Press, 320 pp., $35)   The Life and Thought of Hans Jonas: Jewish Dimensions By Christian Wiese (Brandeis University Press, 292 pp., $50)   I. Hans Jonas was a philosopher, not a prophet, but his teachings speak as powerfully to our age of global warming, global markets, and Manichaean geopolitics as they did to the century of world wars in which he developed them.

July 20, 1969
November 05, 2008

Snail-track of jism? No, that was the moon     silvering the tongue-and-groove of floor,     my parents arguing outside on the stair, the primal "We should get a divorce" scene (sound up and over: from The Guiding Light).     I slept. I woke.

Oblivion City
November 05, 2008

Ashes for Breakfast: Selected Poems By Durs Gr ünbein Translated by Michael Hofmann (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 298 pp., $16) Although some poems by Durs Gr ünbein had been published in journals here and in England, it was not until the appearance of this volume, crisply and colloquially translated by Michael Hofmann, that an English-speaking reader could approach Gr ünbein's coruscating writing. Gr ünbein was born in Dresden, in East Germany, in 1962, and moved to East Berlin as a young adult.

The Morning or the Night
November 05, 2008

Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic By Ingrid D. Rowland (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 352 pp., $29) I. 'To philosophize is to learn to die": seven words, and an epoch in Western thought.

Autobiography—As a Vase
October 22, 2008

Like porcelain thrown before birth-- both shattered and sensing the glue. Complete, but already crazed with breaking. Someone polishes it on the mantle. Someone is trying to put it back together. Someone is watching it fall. Someone was the hand, the air. Someone is the moment when damaged is a fact but the shape remains. Someone is that sudden injection of space, that collapse. Someone is the pieces, the dustpan, the glue. Someone is the worklight, the patience, the room. Someone meant for this to happen. Someone has to decide: repair or dismiss. It happens all at once.

Follow
October 22, 2008

They took Katie to the tool shed today, cleaned her of her fingers. The machete and the flint fire, hands cut and burned closed. Orange. Purple. The sky or us healing. Dying. Heartbeat heartbeat heartbeat. The hay they use to stitch-up. Keep our insides inside. She can't play rugby today, makes a doll from a can of condensed milk. Gives it a voice. Something to follow. A leopard yawning, an impala collapsing into calfhood.

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