* You are viewing the archive for March, 2009

Winter’s Tale

Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is a thing of beauty.  Gorgeous writing and adventurous, original plotting.  Fantasy in the very best sense of unrestrained imagination.  There’s a White Horse, a Grand Scheme, Politics, a Man who lives, departs, and Returns Again in another time… swordplay… thieves…  Big over-the-top story elements abound.  And yet there is also intimacy and hilarity and small plot eddys that entertain for short spans as the grand arc of the novel weaves in and out of the foreground.  Not a short book, and it would be understandable to lose heart, but you mustn’t give up until … Continue Reading

The Summer Book

The Summer Book is slight and bleak, spare and beautiful.  A clear, unromantic depiction of island life as well as a meditation on mortality.  Definitely not a lighthearted book.   It’s bracing, though, like wind coming off of the ocean – you’ll taste salt.

All Shall Be Well

All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well is a really REALLY long title. It also happens to be representative (awkwardly poignant) of the book it names. I had about made my mind up not to like this book after an overly self-conscious part one, and then awkward & painful love story part two completely broke my heart, and aftermath part three let me down gently. The cumulative effect evoked strong emotions – but as I said with the tree book, I happen to cherish hopelessly inappropriate and … Continue Reading

Billy Collins, Kay Ryan

I’ve recently read Kay Ryan’s Say Uncle, and most of Ballistics by Billy Collins. A little while ago I mentioned reading Yellowrocket.

There’s something knocking around in my head that I’d like to say about simplicity and triviality. It’s buzzing but unfortunately not coming clear. It seems to me that there are needy poems that cling to the poets, and there are poems that stand on their own two feet. Little poems need to stand strong right from the start, they have no time to assert independence, they can’t start out needy and grow … Continue Reading

Antoine’s Alphabet

Antoine’s Alphabet was delightful, if a bit scattershot. Jed Perl’s ear for prose is wonderful, and his thoughtfulness and love of his subject were clear and enjoyable throughout. Even without any familiarity with Antoine Watteau‘s body of work, there were enough plates in the book for me to appreciate the text. Having read it I am both more knowledgeable and more curious. In fact, the whole thing piqued my interest enough to run out to the library and check out a big fat book full of drawings and color plates of the paintings. Unknown … Continue Reading