Monday, February 9 2004
One of the functions of poetry is to express the unthinkable mixture of the horrific, the tragic and the banal that constitutes such a biography. The remarkable power of Radnóti's poems is that they succeed, repeatedly, in doing so.
Here, then, is the question that Railsback, like one of those campus environmentalists, begs you to consider: Is the protection of nature worth the forfeit of innocent human lives?"
While the solution to the mystery lies within Navajo culture and several of the main characters are Native Americans, one finishes the book feeling as though the culture has been more alluded to than explored.
Gao eschews both plot and poeticism -- leaving some to wonder what else there is -- and the resulting work is curiously opaque.
Tuesday, February 3 2004
Williams's book encourages a sense of the everyday and normal, enough so as to remove binary distinctions like us/them and queer/straight from the start.
Soon, however, I realized the two books are companions, both asking one question: What is suffering and how does religion or philosophy or a person's own reality shape his or her suffering?"
Mosley has created an unlikely and awkward pair, clumsily dancing around each other with the steps of a fool drunk on fleeting knowledge and even more fleeting power.
It is in the historic tradition of the historical novel that Lovric includes assurances that we are not reading some bodice-ripping yarn with nothing more than costumes to distinguish it from fantastically tame pornography.
It's the split between mind and body at the center of Western civilization's ill-fated attempt under technocratic reason to rule over all things which Ganis's photographs seek to repair.
Wednesday, January 28 2004
It's also a book that comes into this world with incredible weight on its shoulders. Not only does it have to fight off a kind of TV Movie of the Week stigma, there's the bad taste caused by previous novels tackling similar territory.
It's obvious that Fisher was torn between giving a straightforward account of the film's plot and wanting to stay true to the awe and poetry in Tolkien's own masterwork.
Movies, to a child, are almost always about seeing imagination played out on the big screen. Yet, there's little imagination in Fuguet's story structure.
The notion of war as a literary construct, as well as a very real one, which can be coloured by surprise, tactic, rules, or none of the above, is presented, not only in words, but through extraordinary photographic images.
Barnes writes in a curiously anachronistic style, in which content jars against form, as if children's nursery rhymes were refilled with material purged by centuries of prurient censorship, and made vibrant, living things again.
Wednesday, January 21 2004
Critics must be fair in their evaluation of a book and they must explain their disappointment or their joy. They should, from time to time, recommend that others give a book a try -- that their analysis is not the final word.
The concepts at the heart of Baudrillard's book invoke, reflect, subvert, and play with one another, sometimes compelling the careful reader to read the book backwards so that she or he might then begin reading forwards again.
I told my uncle George in western Pennsylvania about the plot of Monstrous Regiment and he spouted off something about liberal pinko Commie crap and the superiority of men in all matters martial.
The further you get into Elizabeth David's Christmas, the stronger the impression that David's recipes should only be attempted by those with infinite time, infinite patience, and infinite resources.
Edith Grossman has delicately and lovingly translated the novel in a voice so fluid that had it been marketed to a broader audience, it would have, without a doubt, become a monster bestseller.
Fink manages the cultural uncertainty of the outsider and dissenter in the material deftly by presenting not only a Communist heroine but one that is Jewish as well in a time that prized greater homogeneity.