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WRB—Oct. 5, 2022
If you meet a Managing Editor on the road, please be nice.
[Look, sorry for the delay. Nic has the flu and worse, Chris had to fly to Florida. By way of Links, here’s a thing about Donna Tartt (LARB) and another thing about menus (Spectator). TNA has this about Shakespeare authorship. In the Jewish Review of Books, “Walking with Walter Benjamin,” and on Public Books, an interview with sci-fi writer Charles Yu. I know we’ve already done a pick of Marguerite Young content but Phil Christman has this essay in The Baffler now on that Dalkey reissue. I have this and this and this opened in a tabs and haven’t read any of them. Speaking of Christman, he linked this little thing with Laura Kipnis in The Nation on his Substack, and now I’m halfway through Against Love: A Polemic, so that’s What I’m reading.
N.B.: The National Book Award Finalists are public, and the Nobel in Literature is announced tomorrow, if you’ve somehow missed Alex Shepherd’s yearly rundown, here it is. The book buyer for Politics and Prose has passed away. R.I.P. Fare Forward is attempting to bring back its print subscription (Kickstarter). LRB, Engelsberg Ideas, and Graywolf Press all have unglamorous postings up. I have to admit I laughed out loud several times at this Charlie Cooke bit (National Review). Someone sent me this New Yorker link about Jeb Bush and said “This has to be in the Wednesday WRB.” Well, I didn’t get a chance to read it, but there you go. Oh, and the CRB has an editorial shakeup.
Thank you all for bearing with us, we’ll see you on Saturday morning. —Chris]
November 22 | Transit Books
by Jon Fosse
From the publisher: What makes us who we are? And why do we lead one life and not another? Asle, an aging painter and widower who lives alone on the southwest coast of Norway, is reminiscing about his life. His only friends are his neighbor, Åsleik, a traditional fisherman-farmer, and Beyer, a gallerist who lives in the city. There, in Bjørgvin, lives another Asle, also a painter but lonely and consumed by alcohol. Asle and Asle are doppelgängers—two versions of the same person, two versions of the same life, both grappling with existential questions about death, love, light and shadow, faith and hopelessness.
The three volumes of Jon Fosse’s Septology—The Other Name, I is Another, and A New Name—collected here for the first time, are a transcendent exploration of the human condition, and a radically other reading experience—incantatory, hypnotic, and utterly unique.
“Gallowed Be” by Devon Walker-Figueroa
The nearest land- fill’s nowhere
near & no one is
to blame. We burn the year’s
news—in the meadow, in the mind,
till the crosswords & the funnies wilt
to winterkill. I trace
the day an epitaph
in ash: “Hallowed Be
Thy Games.” Every story is
ashamed to be true. My father’s now
a widower & no one
is to blame. My sister
doesn’t laugh, plots to live
on land turned tame—where the soil’s kissed
with concrete, yields no wine.
It’s all the same to me, if we winnow,
if we win. I tell
myself the story that I’ll visit
distant cisterns, let their sallow
walls win me over, lift my low
life & lowly frame of mind. My father
gets fined for burning out
of season, says he doesn’t
get why. So the days go slow & I
climb a pulsing fence that stops
no bucks nor does, observe
the neighbor’s piglets wallow
in their loam. (Still,
the world is wide, if the hymnal’s hold
true, & every beast has a mind to get loose
from a valley fallowing
toward foul.) My sister braids my waist-
length mane, says, “This
place is lame.” I try to tell her
no one is to blame, but the sky is
so hollow it swallows every name.
[This is the final poem from Walker-Figueroa’s collection 2021 Philomath, her first book. It’s a collection full of ghost towns and ghost stories, rooted in Walker-Figueroa’s own childhood in a ghost town outside of Philomath, Oregon. I found the collection compelling and compassionate, and loved her use of language & sound, particularly in this piece. We’re not the first Review of Books to discuss this collection, either.
One of my other favorite poems in Philomath was a long poem titled “The Curse of Bodie,” about the supposedly haunted ghost town of Bodie, California. That poem was a little too lengthy to include here, but I’m told it’s the time of year when ghost stories are particularly appropriate. —Julia]
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Minneapolis based, 30ish male, tall, runner with luscious locks seeks Latin Mass date. Whiskey drinker & lover of beautiful things preferred. [Email WRB with subject line: “Good Tresses Make Good Neighbors”] [“Something there is that doesn’t love the Mall of America?” —Chris]
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Pray the Rosary daily!