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There are 2 new books of poetry that have engaged me:

Marjorie Welish’s new In the Futurity Lounge/Asylum for Indeterminacy. The way Marjorie Welish manages to fuse theory and musicality–plus, in this book, architecture is amazing to me. And then there is the second part that plays on Baudelaire’s “Correspondances” engaging ideas of divergent translations, interpretations, reactions.

Ghosts and ghost stories may seem an unlikely subject for a book of poems, but in Gravesend Cole Swensen carries it off. Starting off with interviews, with questions like “what do you think a ghost is”,  she gives us a kaleidoscope of fragments on the nature of perception and its sources as well as feelings about death. Here is a whole poem:

GHOSTS

are houses.               (The places we exceed ourselves can live.)            And every house   
is a guest.           I live in an old one.          I watch it move.           “I am moved,” I say
at inappropriate times. And then must say “I’m sorry”                       though not to whom

 
Otherwise I’ve been reading novels.

I never reach for historical novels, but I have loved Hilary Mantel’s novels. So now I am totally engrossed in her Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies.

Reread Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier. An absolute delight. It doesn’t have Ford’s later elliptical sentences, but it is simply the most perfect jewel of a novel with an unreliable narrator.

Gérad Macé’s La mémoire aime chasser dans le noir [Memory Loves Hunting in the Dark] is a lovely meditation on memory and photography. But since it’s not translated into English let me instead mention Brian Evenson’s translation of Macé’s The Last of the Egyptians, a fascinating novella/essay on Champollion, the decipherer of the Rosetta Stone who was also a huge admirer of Fennimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans. He saw the American Indians as deciphering the forest much as he was deciphering the hieroglyphs. Macé’s text hovers between novella and essay, and most crucially engages questions of reading, writing, deciphering.

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Published Jul 19, 2012 - Comments Off

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