Posts Tagged: Paris Review

The Old Sad Soak

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The Old Soak is a hauntingly one-note character, and one wonders exactly what about his alcoholism made him such a bankable franchise. Imagine the pitch meetings that followed: “He’s a lush, see? He wants to booze it up, but he can’t, because of that cursed eighteenth amendment!” Yuks ensue, contracts are signed, and everyone has a glass of whiskey.

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I Have Wasted My Life

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Over at the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring talks about James Wright’s famous epiphanic poem Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota, in conjunction with Ann Beattie’s new story Yancey, and the general discussion and controversy of the poem’s famous last line: “I have wasted my life.”

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How to Buy Heidi Julavits’s Self on eBay

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Author Heidi Julavits’s predominant self is hiding inside this matryoshka doll.

Over at the Paris Review, in an interview with Leanne Shapton, Julavits answers each question with an eBay auction listing. What listing would you choose to answer the query, “What sort of highly valuable or beloved object would you feed to a shark to save your life?” Hopefully not your copy of Women in Clothes, coedited by Shapton, Julavits, and Sheila Heti.

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The Multitalented Victor Hugo

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Although Victor Hugo is best known for his novels, the author had an avid interest in the visual arts as well. However, Hugo didn’t publish his visual artwork, fearful that his drawings might interfere with his literary projects. According to his son’s notes about his father’s process, Hugo would often complete his drawings “with a light shower of black coffee” directly onto the paper.

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Searching for Cervantes

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After a Times article last March criticized Spain (and its literary establishment) for failing to unravel the mystery of the precise location of Miguel de Cervantes’s grave, a reinvigorated search may have finally yielded results. Cervantes was buried in Madrid’s Trinitarias convent, but the specific site was not marked (or not marked well); the discovery of a casket with the initials M.

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Word of the Day: Frigiferous

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(adj.); bearing or bringing cold; from the Latin frigus (“cold”)

There’s no denying it, as much as we might wish to: the Northern Hemisphere is in the midst of the coldest part of the year. We temper the icy storms with romantic images of thick woollen scarves and roaring fires and leftover roasted chestnuts, but the cold truth of the matter is, it’s frightfully frigiferous out there.

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Mark Strand, 1934–2014

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And when you report back to your own daily world after experiencing the strangeness of a world sort of recombined and reordered in the depths of a poet’s soul, the world looks fresher somehow.

To pay homage to the passing of Mark Strand last Saturday, The Paris Review opened its archive and published a manuscript page of the poet’s “A Piece of the Storm,” as well as some interview quotes and a poem from 1992.

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Discovering a Smart Poet

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Smart was known, with his “disturbed mental state,” for his loud, feverish, constant praying, and you can read some of that catatonia in Jubilate, with its litany of “for”s and its incantatory quality. 

Over at the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring introduces us to Christopher Smart, an interesting, unknown poet from the XVIII century who is featured in the Public Domain Review‘s very first print anthology, the newly published The Book of Selected Essays, 2011-2013.

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Crashing on Ice

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The sound you hear when you put ice cubes into warm (but not hot) water—that subtle but quick crackling—is the sound all around you in the summer fjords near glaciers. There is ice everywhere in the water, the size of your fist and the size of small islands, and because the water is only a few degrees above freezing, the ice cracks slowly, abundantly.

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Summer Camp for Book Nerds

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For the burgeoning field of Critical Bibliography, “the study of the physical characteristics of books and the process of bookmaking,” Rare Book School is the highlight of the year. The Paris Review’s Benjamin Breen reports from the annual conference out of UVA, where old-school book enthusiasts gather to share in the examination of woodcuts, medieval manuscripts, and specimens like a gold-edged copy of Encyclopédie with Diderot’s handwritten notes in the margins.

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Hallelujah

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Listing our literary patrons of sex-ed, Leonard Cohen doesn’t immediately come to mind. And yet:

Cohen, who turns eighty on Sunday, is exceptionally good at drawing out those moments of sexual crystallization. It’s a skill that, along with his gravelly voice and poems about women’s bodies, has given him a reputation for being a “ladies’ man.” Judging by the adoring crowds at his shows, it’s a reputation he deserves.

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Simply and Swiftly

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In 1906, aged 21, D.H. Lawrence wrote to his future fiancée Louise Burrows with writing advice after reading an essay on art she’d sent to him. Among many other remarkable lines, the British author told Burrows that “[l]ike most girl writers you are wordy” and suggested not being “didactic; try and make things reveal their mysteries to you, then tell them over simply and swiftly, without exaggerating as I do.

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Seriously Serious

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Over at the Paris Review, Jason Novak has taken up the pen again; this time, he’s turned to authors and their eccentricities. Among his observations:

“Somewhere Hemingway is sitting quietly at his desk. Pouring another bull. And fighting another drink.”

Other targets include Don DeLillo, Jane Austen, Hegel, Nabokov, Heidegger, and the state of Publishing itself.

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Spellbound

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Unaccustomed, vicious, onomatopoeia… We all have that one word we can never spell correctly. Paris Review blogger Sadie Stein’s was “Wednesday.” “It’s like a mental block,” she writes, “or maybe, an increased reliance on technology.” Read the rest of the mini-essay here.

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