“Of course, his word-pictures don’t define the art of poetry—nor are they meant to. In part they exemplify it; in part provide a warning that such an art eludes straightforward setting out in words.” On Horace’s and Archibald MacLeish’s Ars Poetica.
The recent passing of Christopher Hitchens has led to numerous praiseful eulogies. Many have been (and he would’ve hated this…) hagiographic. Now, in an article for The Nation, Katha Pollitt seeks to “complicate the picture … at the risk of seeming churlish” to allege that the man “had virtually no interest in women’s writing or women’s lives or perspectives.”
“An artist you love occupies a weird in-between place, where they’re somehow a little more than a father, but a little less than a neighbour. They can permanently re-organize your consciousness but they can’t sell you a Coke. You feel you know them more than anyone you actually know, which means that you don’t really know a damn thing. I feel I know Elliott Smith, but if I picture him in front of me, I find myself picturing a tiny figurine, or Mount Rushmore.” Sasha Chapin has written an intensely personal essay about Elliott Smith for Hazlitt. Here is The Millions’ own Torch Ballads & Jukebox Music column to satisfy any lingering musical urges.
New this week: Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng; Mambo in Chinatown by Jean Kwok; The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses; Shrink Thyself by the Letterman staff writer Bill Scheft; The Last Taxi Ride by A.X. Ahmad; and the Cambridge University Press edition of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Taps at Reveille.
“According to David Means and his debut novel, Hystopia, [classic war novels] aren’t simply about confronting the horrors of war, but also about concealing them, hiding them under a layer of rationalizations and wishful thinking that often simplifies their lawless anarchy and finds sense, meaning and purpose where there’s little.” Over at Electric Lit, Simon Chandler reviews David Means’s Hystopia.