The one book where we never lose our place spreads its covers to a gooseﬂesh Braille. We are bookmarks slipped into each other. In that book, we read each night of a couple who go without touching for hours on end; then, the dishes put away, the toddler powered down and set to charge for tomorrow, they thumb a lock and make a greenhouse where once there was a master bedroom. Orchids push open the drawers.
I wish my father was here. His features were calm and striking, even when his breaths were horrible. Remote pale yellow sunlight behind a screen of clouds. Landscape in darkness. Rain comes straight down in dense strands that cover the street with rain froth. The trees are so full it makes everything seem constant but fragile, as if any moment could be the last. All the news is the same news: somebody bombing somebody, somebody cheating somebody, somebody hurting the one they love, so we talk about forgiveness in a low-key unabashed way: forgive me for the errors of my youth; forgive me for th
A translator who puts his mark on poems—a bit too strongly.
IF LOUISE GLUCK had released a Collected Poems a dozen years ago, we would have known what to make of her. She was a walking dysphemism, a blade without a handle, a poet so intent on “unmasking … the ordinary to reveal the tragic,” as she put it, that any sign of kindness prompted bitter cynicism. “Mothers weep at their daughters’ weddings,/ everyone knows that, though/ for whose youth one cannot say,” she wrote in 1985. “My father liked/ to stand like this, to hold me/ so he couldn’t see me” (1990).
The Song of Achilles: A Novel by Madeline Miller I loved The Song of Achilles, Madeline Miller’s brisk, graceful reimagining of the Iliad. The narrator is Achilles's companion Patroclus, a minor character in Homer’s original who makes for a surprisingly appealing protagonist. Miller’s book is a feat of storytelling: her take on the love affair between Achilles and Patroclus gives the epic tale of the Trojan War new emotional specificity.
IN SEPTEMBER 1966, a reading took place at New York University’s Loeb Center, near Washington Square. Less than two months had passed since Frank O’Hara’s death on Fire Island, and the event took on the flavor of a memorial for the recently departed poet. In his memoir, the poet’s longtime roommate Joe LeSueur recalled listening in shock as Kenneth Koch read a remarkable poem of O’Hara’s, which, until that moment, it seemed no one had ever heard. “We were not only moved by the poem,” LeSueur wrote, “but mystified as well.
Every Diwali, I explain to my friends at school why I am so tired—garba it’s like dancing—pujas? I guess like praying— I explain in fragments because even we don’t know why we wash statues with milk, why worshipping God takes so many coats. I don’t ask, just sit beside my mother when she sings. My sister and I watch our father struggle to cross his legs; his laughter resting on his lifted knees. He closes his eyes, pretending to pray. We believe my mother made this temple herself, found pictures and tiny murtis, gold coins with Shiva, rice and turmeric stored in tiny steel jars.