Books

Café

In that café in a foreign town bearing a French writer'sname I read Under the Volcanobut with diminishing interest. You should heal yourself,I thought. I'd become a philistine.Mexico was distant, and its vast starsno longer shone for me. The day of the dead continued.A feast of metaphors and light. Death played the lead.Alongside a few patrons at the tables, assorted fates:Prudence, Sorrow, Common Sense. The consul, Yvonne.Rain fell. I felt a little happiness. Someone entered,someone left, someone finally discovered the perpetuum mobile.I was in a free country.

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Sage

O sage I know I am I am a sageI know unkindness is a selfish acta straight fish act or fishy furtive act fish or fowl and a slice of the knifeIn the word selfish have you seen the fishI meant to write you a poem of love green sage grey sage and sings the silver windSwing me on the swing sway me with your handwing me on the wind these were all my songs The geese in their V's are yipping like dogsalong the selvedge of the winter woodsThere must be an edge to the self a hedge against hell Must be an edge or a vergeHere is the self-edge that you cut againstHere I am savaged I meant to be saved O s

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Fitzgerald, eager to draw the shy, Yale-educated prep-school French teacher into his dashing retinue, arranged to have Wilder and Wilson picked up at the train station, but it was Marcel Proust who helped to smooth the way between them.

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Homage to Caledonia

The Invention of Scotland: Myth and History By Hugh Trevor-Roper (Yale University Press, 282 pp., $30) Hugh Trevor-Roper seemed to be an Oxford don supplied by central casting. An erect Northumbrian with a distinctly patrician air, he commanded a grandee position impregnably within the Establishment.

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Angler: The Cheney Vice PresidencyBy Barton Gellman (Penguin Press, 384 pp., $27.95) As Americans prepare to choose a new president, it may seem a curious exercise to rehearse the manifest failures of the current one. But either Barack Obama or John McCain is going to be stuck with the burdensome legacy of the Bush years, and the rest of us will be too--possibly for a long time. The war in Iraq is still with us. So are Afghanistan, Iran, and Pakistan. The Wall Street cataclysm will ramify, locally and globally, for many months, perhaps years.

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Welcome To The Party

On the Side of the Angels: An Appreciation of Parties and PartisanshipBy Nancy Rosenblum (Princeton University Press, 576 pp., $29.95) Partisanship is resurgent in America, and hardly anyone likes it. To say that American politics has become polarized along party lines is tantamount, for most people, to acknowledging that something has gone wrong with the country.

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The Discovery Of Pride

Negro with a Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus GarveyBy Colin Grant (Oxford University Press, 530 pp., $27.95) I. In the pantheon of the past century's African American leaders, Marcus Garvey holds an exceedingly ambiguous place.

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Song: Infernal

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

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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.

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The Revolt

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.

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