“This is a tricky novel to review. I’m not even sure it is a novel. And I’m not certain as to whether its fragmentary nature belies an organic structure of astutely sewn intention or is merely a disingenuous device to conceal a let’s-get-something-out cobbling together of unpublished material lying around the writer’s desk. What I can tell you is this: I was powerfully engaged and richly entertained by Sergio De La Pava’s Personae.” (Related: our own Garth Risk Hallberg wrote a profile of De La Pava.)
In the Atlantic‘s annual fiction supplement, Joyce Carol Oates writes about the loss of her husband of 48 years and the split identity of the well-known writer: “My job at the university is to impersonate ‘Joyce Carol Oates’ […] this quasi-public self […] is scarcely visible to me, as a mirror-reflection, seen up close, is scarcely visible to the viewer.”
The correspondence of Vladimir Nabokov and the critic Edmund Wilson suffered from Wilson’s inability to appreciate Nabokov’s work. But by the spring of 1950, illness had affected both men to the point where a skilled correspondent in the ways of the U.S. mail became “a panacea to pain.”
Award-winning poet Alice Oswald has pulled out of prestigious poetry award the TS Eliot prize in protest over its sponsorship by an investment company. Oswald’s words: “I think poetry should be questioning not endorsing such institutions.”
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with my husband’s American cousins, who have a five-year-old daughter. She is fascinated and confused by my ‘Briddish’ accent, which she seems to think at points is something I’m putting on. She invented a game where she’ll point at an object in the room and I have to say the word for it—Carpet! Dump truck!—in my best American accent (which is dreadful, by the way). This had her in stitches. When the laughter had died down, she turned to her parents, suddenly contemplative, and said, ‘Isn’t it amazing that Sarah knows a few words in our language?’” Lily Blacksell interviews T.S. Eliot Prize-winning poet Sarah Howe on how being in the U.S. changes her perception of language, writing in the first-person, and “authenticity.”
“What is missing from Testimony is the customary idealistic hero, the one last encountered in Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass who doesn’t avert his eyes from suffering and sordidness, but who nevertheless is full of hope for a better future. Testimony is a corrective, an anti-epic.” Charles Simić recounts Charles Reznikoff’s long poem Testimony: The United States (1885-1915): Recitative in the NYRB.