Heteronomy

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A Year in Reading: Ben Lerner

From where I’m sitting I can see the galleys of Maggie Nelson’s incredible The Argonauts, which will come out this spring from Graywolf, and Aaron Kunin’s brilliant, Cold Genius, just out from Fence. Chris Nealon’s Heteronomy, published by Edge, has been supporting me all fall. Nealon taps into the energies of popular culture without condescension or self-congratulation or (easy) irony; his poems are at once totally well-wrought and unaffectedly conversational; he is clear-eyed about the catastrophe of the present but refuses to descend into mere melancholy; he has no illusions about poetry’s practical power but he is not in love with -- or particularly tortured by -- its marginality; Nealon -- an accomplished literary critic -- neither disavows his learning or retreats into it. Please read this book with me because everybody who reads it gets to enter a meadow where we can dance and die together: “I think whenever you felt it, in austere modernity above a skyline, or in the back of some pub on the pilgrim’s way – I think wherever you are when you feel this, you’re in a kind of meadow – And – I don’t know how to explain – I think no matter how we all go down together, by whichever combination of terminal failures – Whether the landscape after is a ravaged wasteland or a wide plain, hushed – I think however we die out, we’ll have died in that meadow” More from A Year in Reading 2014 Don't miss: A Year in Reading 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005 The good stuff: The Millions' Notable articles The motherlode: The Millions' Books and Reviews Like what you see? Learn about 5 insanely easy ways to Support The Millions, and follow The Millions on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr.
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