Life, Death & Lumberjacks -- Bob Dylan, Poet

10.15.2004 | David Walley | Literature, Music | 2 Comments
Dylan, without benefit of clergy or A.J. Weberman, on the move through twisted famedreams, acid visions populated with amphetamine figures -- Lonzo, Murph the Surf, The Senator, Jesus Christ, Suzy Q., The Good Samaritan, James Cagney.

Milosz's Heir

10.5.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature | 1 Comment
"Are you ever going to publish any of your poetry in manuscript?"
"Who do you think I am? Dante?"

Kafka, Comedian

09.28.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature | 5 Comments
It's hard to imagine a more sublime comedy than the opening scenes of The Metmorphosis, with Gregor's deadpan acceptance of his transformation into a monstrous vermin, his embittered musings on his life, the Yiddish-theatrical rushing around of his parents and sister.

The Seven Greatest Novels Unknown in America

09.20.2004 | Jonathan Leaf | Literature, Unfairly Forgotten | 4 Comments
All that said, when you read The Revenge For Love you realize why Hemingway described Lewis in A Moveable Feast as having "the look of an unsuccessful rapist". Hemingway had to slander him. I think it's a very safe bet that Hemingway read The Revenge for Love and knew that he could never write a work of fiction on its level.

Goodbyes and Decay: On Ford Madox Ford

09.14.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature, Unfairly Forgotten | 1 Comment
I mean no offense to him by calling him perverse; he was something of a pathological liar and a compulsive philanderer, and a confirmed contrarian.

Our Vibrant Subjectivities

09.10.2004 | J.E. D'Ulisse | Literature | 3 Comments
There is this point where all other possible points meet. You could see it if you were lying in just the right way, looking at just the right place. It is the absolute point from which one could perceive an absolute objectivity. To see it is to perceive what God perceives. Oddly enough, since you have to be lying in just the right way, looking at just the right place, it is a subjective experience.

When "Literal" Is A Noun

09.7.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature | 2 Comments
You frequently find the name of a well-known poet on the cover of a New Translation of someone-or-other. Almost as frequently, one finds a second name beneath the well-known poet's.

The Two Objectivities

08.31.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature | 1 Comment
The fallacy that a book has a dominating external purpose is true only of the lowest sorts of literature -- political theater, pornography, and the like.

A Correlative Stupidity

08.17.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature | 1 Comment
We have shown, despite having only a cursory understanding of what stupidity might be, no hesitation in bringing the word into over-common use. This would be fine, except that it has made it almost impossible to use the word "stupid" as a serious criticism.

When Critics Can't Read

08.10.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature | 1 Comment
Perhaps he does not understand the stories that he is reviewing, and has to fall back on this to avoid the greatest solecism a reviewer can commit: having nothing to say.

The Weight Of Fiction

07.27.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature | 4 Comments
While the merits of these books are open to debate, it seemed to me that, no matter how excellent they might be, the kind of praise they received was excessive. The adjectives had lost much of their force through overuse.

Critics' Critics, or, Who Watches the Watchmen?

07.21.2004 | Harry Siegel | Literature | 5 Comments
Mr. Munson’s critics repeatedly employ the phrase “Maud-bashing,” as though Maud is as instantly recognizable a noun as say, “gay.”

An Open Letter to Sam Munson & Munson's Reply

07.20.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature | 1 Comment
Dear Mark, I appreciate you devoting so much time and energy to rebutting me. But I have to say, I'm not entirely convinced.

A Farewell to Blogs

07.20.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature | 20 Comments
Despite the self-evidently literary nature of Newton's blog, she publishes very little there recognizable as actual criticism.

A Respectable, Fruitless Ménage à Trois

07.13.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature | 4 Comments
To be a Jew is, evidently, to be subjected to an authorial harangue. What subtler commentary on the prophets' enraged and passionate speeches to an adulterous Israel could there be?

Notes on The Novel

06.28.2004 | Jonathan Leaf | Literature | 11 Comments
In which the Author, through Methodologically Precise lists, enumerates the How and Why of Where and When Great novelists and novels emerge, throughout drawing upon His Own Experiences, Insights, dispositions and prejudices.

"LOVE IS FEAR" -- A Report From the Academy

05.21.2004 | Sam Munson | Literature, The Academy | 1 Comment
While we are talking to Z., his co-editor and collaborator Brian H. hangs palely in the background, muttering to Timothy L. Brian H. has terrible posture, hipster glasses, and a soul patch. He teaches English, and has just written a book on James Tate, called "On James Tate." S. and I once declined to publish H.'s poems in our college magazine. Being an established and important figure, and ten years our senior, he was rather huffy about it. He has not spoken to us since.

Small-Town America As It Isn't: Our Man on Kent Haruf

05.13.2004 | Tim Marchman | Literature
The earthy details, the strings of obfuscating conjunctions, and the fuzzy narrative ambiguities of this passage are entirely representative of the book, which is entirely representative of its class. It is fake-simplistic writing about a fake-simplistic small-town America that doesn't really exist, an exercise in fiction as the enemy of clear thought.

Tim Marchman on Javer Cercas' "Soldiers of Salamis"

04.22.2004 | Tim Marchman | Literature
An evocation of the appeal of fascism to an intellectual of Mazas's generation, an understanding of what was essentially prophetic in it, requires a sort of neutrality of which pure fiction is probably incapable.

The Againsters

04.4.2004 | Harry Siegel | Cultural Affairs, Literature | 1 Comment
I find it hard to imagine any sane person taking equal enjoyment from Gary Indiana’s clumsy vulgarities and Wendy Wasserstein’s well-wrought bourgeois dramas, Paul Auster’s bizarre racialisms and Jhumpa Lahiri’s brilliant attention to detail. But the crowd at the all-star-author hootenanny was, like the readers, united more in a lifestyle than a political movement, more interested in literature as a scene than as an art form.