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The Containable Apocalypse

Over the past decade, in our finer quarterlies, few names have turned up more often than Jacob M. Appel. You also found him among the finalists for awards in the short story—and among the prize-winners. I myself once floundered in Appel’s wake, merely a finalist while he was the finalist.

The Homoplagiarism of Filip Noterdaeme

Like Gertrude Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, Belgian-born conceptual artist Filip Noterdaeme’s The Autobiography of Daniel J. Isengart combines reflections on art with anecdotes about artists—some serious, some not.

In Conversation

THE BRUTALITY OF BELIEVING: Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore In Conversation with Kathleen Rooney

A curriculum vitae-style list of Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore's many dazzling accomplishments gives you some sense of who she is as a writer, thinker, and queer anti-assimilationist activist.

In Conversation

Road Raptures: MARY MILLER with Matt Bell

The Last Days of California follows the family of 15-year-old Jess as they leave their home in the South to drive to California to await the rapture prophesied to come in just four days. This is a coming of age story hurried into the last gasp before a supposedly coming end, with Miller’s sharp prose moving us fast across our apocalypse-obsessed country, this roadside America of faith and faithlessness, angst and love, rest stops and hotel pools and Waffle House.

What’s Left To Say

It’s totally fair to greet any new book about the Beatles with the SNL-ish derisive question: really? What could possibly be left to pick at on those ghostbones?

Precipice and Aftermath

Maybe you know about Kevin Barry because you were one of the lucky ones who read his City of Bohane (Graywolf, 2012), either before or after it was shortlisted for the Costa and then when it won the IMPAC Dublin Literary award. Maybe you found him, as I did, by reading his story “Fjord of Killary” when it was published in early 2010 in the New Yorker—remember, that weird story with the steadily insistent writing about the guy who bought a hotel and ran a bar and, in the story, there’s a flood coming? Remember?

A Political Fairy Tale

Die Zeit, a weekly national German newspaper, describes Adam Bodor’s new novel, The Sinistra Zone, as “linking intense realism with a boundless imagination, this fascinating novel could have been written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.” True, The Sinistra Zone fuses what seems real with what seems fantastic, demanding its magic realism sticker and thus practically begging for the Marquez comparison.

The Troubador's Simple Songs

I once worked in a bookstore and this large soft, new-age guy—Lennon-ish spectacles, long hair, deep interest in eastern philosophies and martial arts/practices, tea instead of coffee—was just enough off that I couldn’t like him. One night he was doing stock work in the basement, and, the next day, we discovered that, along with stocking, he’d scrawled Collins poems on large sheets of paper and taped them all around. They stayed hanging up the rest of the time I worked at the bookstore, neither offensive nor in-enough to matter. They were mental furniture.

Strife Between the Tinctures

Carmen Giménez Smith’s fourth full-length book of poems, Milk & Filth, explicitly positions itself as part of the third-wave feminist project commonly called “The Gurlesque,” and my reading of her book is, in part, a reading of that broader project.

ROSIE PEREZ with Lathleen Ade-Brown

When you talk to Rosie Perez over the phone, as I did for this interview, you can feel her in pensive thought. The pint-sized Brooklyn native’s personality is large and generous, her voice infused with that trademark accent. And the familiarity of that voice lent a casual friendliness to our conversation.

Earthly Powers

On welcoming a first complete English-language translation of Giacomo Leopardi’s Zibaldone, a 2,500-page philological, philosophical, literary notebook, we find a writer whose intellectual life was among the most comprehensive and assiduously developed in all modern history, whose wide-ranging appetite for knowledge and self-understanding was matched only by his breathtaking perspicacity and his tireless devotion to study.

Make Ready the Champagne Bottle

In The Parrots, Filippo Bologna has managed to construct a vessel whose biting satire is so perfectly ballasted by empathy—if not compassion—that it tacks between high literary majesty and good hard slapstick without ever capsizing.

Beyond the Game

Rarefied victory in the N.F.L. incarnates as the glorious Vince Lombardi trophy: an ugly metallic regulation-sized football fused to a stylized, oversized football tee. Bestowed to the annual winner of the Super Bowl, it is the stuff of countless football dreams. And countless football nightmares.

Posing Questions to the Universe

In his redoubtable essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” T. S. Eliot wrote, “No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone. His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists.” I wonder how Eliot might have assessed the work of David Lehman, a poet whose recently published New and Selected Poems demonstrates time and again that one’s ongoing engagement with poets dead or alive need not mask personality or stifle innovation.

Reeding George Zimmerman

A bad experience with the police lingers in the mind, whether the cop is friendly and professional—as many had been when they detained me numerous times over a six-month period in the early 2000s when I moved a car on street cleaning days in Harlem—or rude and unprofessional.


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2014

All Issues