Search View Archive


Winter’s Picks for Young Readers

Thanhhà Lai reverses course from Inside Out and Back Again, her previous dazzler written in poetic-verse, in which a family of Vietnamese refugees acclimate to their new home in Alabama after the fall of Saigon. Listen, Slowly, written in teenager-speak, follows a modern day, second-generation Vietnamese-American girl as she and her grandmother travel back to the small village where her late grandfather was last seen alive before the Vietnam War swept the country.

The Absolution of Roberto Acestes Laing

If the physical storage device for a work of art is destroyed—be it an Atari cartridge, VHS cassette, or 3.5˝ floppy diskette—what happens to the artwork itself? These days, probably not a damn thing. In this age of digital reproduction, there are likely to be more copies available a few clicks away on eBay. The aura is all but gone. Walter Benjamin is spinning vinyl in his grave.

Elegies for Existence

“There’s nothing good about ill-timed death,” Kathleen Ossip asserts in “Oh, wow, mausoleums,” the final poem in The Do-Over, the poet’s third book of poems. “Nor about the death of love. That poetry glamorizes them disturbs me.” Plainspoken and unsentimental, this passage typifies the tone and subject of Ossip’s newest collection, a bold procession of elegiac meditations and ode-like gestures that never hide behind gossamer veils of rhetoric to soften unforgiving truths.

Patterns of Anticipation

“Information,” writes Walter Benjamin, is “incompatible with the spirit of storytelling.” For Benjamin, “half the art” of telling a story lies in learning not to tell the news; narrative should suppress reportage, achieving instead “an amplitude that information lacks.”

A Hundred and Fifty Years’ Sleep

Once upon a time (in 2012), the Guardian reported that “500 New Fairy Tales” had been discovered in Germany. A trove of folk tales collected by Bavarian historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth in the mid-1800s had recently been unearthed after sitting in an archive for 150 years.

The Old Familiar Song

In the fifth and final season of The Wire, our antsy, alcoholic anti-hero Detective McNulty gets fed up with all the black bodies—the quietly mounting corpses of young, black victims of murders that will go unsolved. Nobody in Baltimore seems to care that 22 black bodies were found stashed and rotting in the crumbling walls of temporary housing units.

American Dissolve

We’ve become highly conversant in the language of crisis, we anxious souls of the 21st century. The shrinking postnational world has come to resemble the native catastrophe of a DeLillo novel, and we’ve taken to its new vocabulary and phrasing like paranoid savants—not least because of a creeping sense of familiarity, the roteness of calamity.

The Limitations of Gender

In this remarkably compelling memoir, Lynsey Addario chronicles over 10 years of experience as a war photojournalist. The Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur “genius” fellow has photographed, it seems, every major conflict since 2000 and tells the story of a dangerous, intense, and unlikely profession. Yet, perhaps the most compelling part of the book comes down to the fact of Addario’s gender.

Seeing and Knowing: Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production

If it is often the case that only books that get talked about are read, I can only hope that because there is so much to say about the information, textual, and graphic design scholar Johanna Drucker’s latest work, Graphesis: Visual Forms of Knowledge Production, the book will continue to garner attention and readers for quite a while.

In Conversation

TIME, SWEAT, AND IMAGINATION: J.C. HALLMAN in conversation with Matt Bell

In B & Me, Hallman adds to the body of creative criticism by reading Nicholson Baker’s work end to end, responding to it both personally and critically in a book modeled on Baker’s own U and I, which similarly engaged John Updike.

In Conversation

T.C. BOYLE with Catherine LaSota

On April 1, 2015, Ecco will publish T.C. Boyle’s 25th book of fiction, The Harder They Come, a novel set in Northern California that follows three characters in rotation: Sten Stensen, a 70-year-old Vietnam veteran and retired school principal; Sten’s troubled son, Adam; and Adam’s older, damaged lover, Sara.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2015

All Issues