Tag Archives: Books

‘I had a life that did not become

A.R. Ammons wrote the best of Easter poems: I have a life that did not become, that turned aside and stopped, astonished: I hold it in me like a pregnancy or as on my lap a child not to grow … Continue reading

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‘Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace…’

As I wrote last week, I don’t celebrate Holy Week anymore, but I still respect the numinous and especially the vast body of religious poetry in English. Chief among its writers is John Donne, whose “Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward” … Continue reading

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The stories of my life

The first short story I loved was “A Day’s Wait.” Dependent on a sick child’s confusion regarding Celsius and Fahrenheit, Ernest Hemingway’s vignette — three scenes, two in the same sickroom — suggested that what Wallace Stevens called the malady … Continue reading

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Novels of my life

Here’s a list of novels I can’t do without: William Maxwell – The Folded Leaf Louis Fitzhugh – Harriet the Spy Ursula K. Le Guin – A Wizard of Earthsea Emily Bronte – Wuthering Heights Henry James – Washington Square … Continue reading

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Freaks and androgyny

In “The Misunderstood Ghost of James Baldwin,” Ismail Muhammad analyzes how writers have taken the James Baldwin most commensurate with their own obsessions. His hook is a review of Raoul Peck’s 2016 I Am Not Your Negro: But rather than … Continue reading

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To move as largely and freely as possible: I Am Not Your Negro

To suggest that white America is finally reckoning with James Baldwin is not to succumb to a liberal notion of “progress” so much as accepting a terrible knowledge: racial tensions are at their peak. Wounds thought salved bled afresh after … Continue reading

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‘The truth must dazzle gradually’

If I’m going to blog about the arts and politics, immersion is how I’ll keep my sanity. Emily Dickinson’s marvelous gnomic poem is the beacon. Tell all the truth but tell it slant — Success in Circuit lies Too bright … Continue reading

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Teen dreams — on my nightstand

I read more than my share of comic books and Choose Your Own Adventure entries, so don’t think I was born holding a Signet Classic copy of The Golden Bowl. Here are the titles that most shaped me as a … Continue reading

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We’ll get by, I suppose — a farewell to 2016 and all that

On the last day of 2016, I can’t dispel the mephitic vapors of an autumn that in South Florida never cooled and an election season that didn’t and won’t end. I published some of my finest work. I read, deeply, … Continue reading

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What I read in 2016

I omitted books I’ve reread (Tender is the Night, A Modern Instance) and short story and poetry collections. Christopher Isherwood – Mr. Norris Changes Trains David Talbot – The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s … Continue reading

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What do Warren Burger and RFK have in common?

Michael J. Graetz and Linda Greenhouse and – The Burger Court and the Rise of the Judicial Right With his windswept cottonball hair and authoritative burr, Warren Burger looked the part of a chief justice to a boy growing up … Continue reading

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‘Leave what you die for and be safe to die’

Wake me up when November ends. Here’s William Empson’s “The Teasers,” suitably grim. Happy November. Not but they die, the teasers and the dreams, Not but they die, and tell the careful flood To give them what they clamour for … Continue reading

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