Tag Archives: Books

The satisfaction of aloneness

The immersive blandness of a Target on the Sunday morning of a long weekend – my church. The sheer acreage of the average store is enough to stagger me, although so long as I can find the frozen blueberries and a … Continue reading

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‘What they always pant for is magic’

H.L. Mencken: Once he gets under way his slightest utterances will take on an an oracular character, and another swill begin carrying their babies to him to be cured of cramps, windgalls and distemper. For the plain people of the … Continue reading

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Joy for its own sake: The Mountain Goats and Ibibio Sound Machine

Ibibio Sound Machine – Uyai Led by London-born Nigerian singer Eno Williams and her seven mates plus more help on backing vocals, mbira, and flutes have created for their second album an intoxicating hybrid of mutant disco and makossa: a … Continue reading

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Best movies of 2017 – first quarter and a half

I’ve reviewed about thirty-five films this year to date, an underwhelming 2017 thus far. Look for reviews of Alien: Covenant soon; I missed the press screening. A Quiet Passion and The Lost City of Z are easily the most accomplished … Continue reading

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He’s Richard Nixon and you’re not

Richard Nixon: The Life by John A. Farrell So long as his former sycophants roam the earth, Americans will need new Richard Nixon bios. Roger Stone, he with the face tattoo of the thirty-seventh president, pops up in headlines. Nixon … Continue reading

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‘A game, a grid, a system, a mere folder’

A poet who found fascinating verbal and rhythmic correlatives for her observational powers, Amy Clampitt didn’t publish her first book of verse until 1984 — in her sixties. Then she wasted no time. “Athena” turns the Greek goddess into her … Continue reading

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‘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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