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WRB—June 4, 2022
Knausgaard, Le Guin, Criticism, Goya, Yiddish, &c, &c.
The WRB Newsroom Union is distinctly disorganized and, unfortunately, has no clear demands.
“If we simply acknowledge that every form of criticism deserves a place in any healthy literary public, what’s to stop everyone from simply retreating back into their private enclaves? Won’t it just be a matter of time before the next n+1 forum on the crisis in criticism?” [Preserve us. —Chris] Antonio J. Ferraro weighs in on the Criticism Discourse.
“Only through history might the expansive arguments of philosophers be brought down from the level of abstraction and applied to concrete people and events.” Robert Crowcroft considers the purpose of historical work for The Critic.
At Minor Literature[s], Tobias Ryan talks to Daniel Kennedy about translating Yiddish literature into English: “So generally the authors are dead, and that’s an advantage most of the time.”
For Orion Magazine, Jeff VanderMeer reviews a classic, Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness: “Perhaps I have moved too far afield from Le Guin’s marvelous quote. Perhaps I have read too much into it. But if so, I would say humbly that, in the world of fiction, the value of a spark is where it takes you, not how close it is to where you started.”
Online for The Point, Daniel Silver reviews My Struggle author Karl Ove Knausgaard’s 2021 novel, The Morning Star: “Having discussed religion and death, let us finally come to a weighty topic: writing and reading. This is one of Knausgaard’s fascinations—and not just because he is a writer, but because he sees writing as part of the same complex as religion and death.”
For the Times, Laleh Khadivi reviews Peter Baker’s debut novel, Planes.
For the LA Times, Mark Athitakis reviews n+1 magazine co-founder and novelist Keith Gessen’s new book about fatherhood: “Of course, children have a way of wrecking all that, jamming a sippy cup into the gears of a meticulously calibrated parenting process.”
Sasha Frere-Jones reviews the new NYRB volume of Elizabeth Hardwick’s Uncollected Essays: “You can go where you want this week, but you will find no livelier two-word phrase about New York than ‘vivacious regicide.’”
We were amused to find in Matt Labash’s defense of cigarettes one of the funnier lines in Lucky Jim, on the sensation of waking up after a night of chain smoking.
Addison Del Mastro rises to the defense of the Land Across the River. [I grew up there, but I won’t defend it. —Nic] [Unlike cigarettes, itʼs hazardous to your health. —Chris]
The Managing Editors, who are ever bucking trends, find themselves once again in a unique position: it’s not the office we love, it’s the commute. [I actually started riding the train so I would have more time to read in the morning. —Nic]
What we’re reading:
Chris hasn’t read much of anything except a few delightful chapters of Marcovaldo.
Nic read the new book on Robert Hanssen and reviewed it for the forthcoming issue of the American Conservative.
September | University of Notre Dame Press
Alasdair MacIntyre: An Intellectual Biography
by Émile Perreau-Saussine
From the publisher: Winner of the prestigious 2005 Philippe Habert Prize, the late Émile Perreau-Saussine’s Alasdair MacIntyre: Une biographie intellectuelle stands as a definitive introduction to the life and work of one of today’s leading moral philosophers. With Nathan J. Pinkoski’s translation, this long-awaited, critical examination of MacIntyre’s thought is now available to English readers for the first time, including a foreword by renowned philosopher Pierre Manent.
Amid the confusions and contradictions of our present philosophical landscape, few have provided the clarity of thought and shrewdness of diagnosis as Alasdair MacIntyre. In this study, Perreau-Saussine guides his readers through MacIntyre’s lifelong project by tracking his responses to liberalism’s limitations in light of the human search for what is good and true in politics, philosophy, and theology. The portrait that emerges is one of an intellectual giant who comes to oppose modern liberal individualism’s arguably singular focus on averting evil at the expense of a concerted pursuit of human goods founded upon moral and practical reasoning. Although throughout his career MacIntyre would engage with a number of theoretical and practical standpoints in service of his critique of liberalism, not the least of which was his early and later abandoned dalliance with Marxism, Perreau-Saussine convincingly shows how the Scottish philosopher came to hold that Aristotelian Thomism provides the best resources to counter what he perceives as the failure of the liberal project. Readers of MacIntyre’s works, as well as scholars and students of moral philosophy, the history of philosophy, and theology, will find this translation to be an essential addition to their collection.
“Speak to Us” by Katie Ford
For all of my years, I’ve read only living signs—
bodies in jealousy, bodies in battle,
bodies growing disease like mushroom coral.
It is tiresome, tiresome, describing
fir cones waiting for fires to catch their human ribs
into some slow, future forest.
My beloved, he tires of me, and he should—
my complaints the same, his recourse
the same, invoking the broad, cool sheet suffering drapes
over the living freeze of heart after heart,
and never by that heart’s fault—the heart did not make itself,
the face did not fashion its jutting jawbone
to wail across the plains or beg the bare city.
I will no longer tally the broken, ospreyed oceans,
the figs that outlived summer
or the tedious mineral angles and
their suction of light.
Have you died? Then speak.
You must see the living
are too small as they are,
lonesome for more
and in varieties of pain
only you can bring into right view.
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If you have a penchant for folk music, listen to “Circles” by Lost Mary, the first single off their upcoming album, Hymns from a Backwood.
Twenty-[redacted] DC-area Catholic seeking participants for an eight-week, completely free weekly course through her church, St. Ann in Tenleytown. Tuesdays at 7:30 PM from June 14–August 2, the course will convene for dinner and discussion of questions of life, faith, and meaning. You need not be Catholic or even Christian to participate; this girl has red hair, so the church door erupts in flames whensoe’er she so much as grazes it with her hand, and they still let her in. The course deepened her faith and was the source of many new friendships. It is a worthy use of a summer evening. Contact Clare Hogan at email@example.com for details.
The Militant Grammarian is a non-profit volunteer journal devoted to bringing the best experimental fiction to the web. Our small staff is committed to an aesthetic of bold weirdness and boundary-pushing—the types of stories that other publications might consider too esoteric or theoretical or cerebral. Simply put, we publish stories we love—the stories that we believe deserve to be out in the world. Submit your writing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Struggle Magazine is a quarterly literary magazine established in Washington, D.C. in 2020. The idea for it started behind a coffee bar from our need to create a tangible expression of what it meant for us to have artistic freedom in this world. We depend on finding contributors and pieces that end up informing one another. We hope that each issue of Struggle comes out buzzing with interesting conversations among artists across genres and mediums that our readers can also participate in. Get the first issue now.
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Pray the Rosary daily!