Displaying articles for: August 2008
?They slit my toes; a razor gushed my fingertips.
Stitched shut at last, my limbs were chaste and valuable,
Stuffed with paste of cloves and wild honey.
My eyes were empty, so they filled them up,
Inserting little nuggets of obsidian.
A basalt scarab wedged between my breasts
Replaced the tinny music of my heart?
Death stalks this darkly beautiful book -- the poet's own suicide seems inevitable, and his handsome, mournful face rises like a cloud on the front cover, obscured, half-hidden as he must remain: so much "obsidian" promise undelivered.
It may not be written in any book, but it is written --
You can't go back.
Littlefoot is inhabited by birds, mountains, clouds, and trees more than people. It instructs us like the Tao Te Ching laced with American grief. "But nature is not sincere, nor is it insincere." We must not "be negligent, / So that our hearts end up like diamonds, and not roots." Gorgeous imagery occupies every page. "Deer huddle?then burst like flames in the air." Wright depicts "the Chinese vocabulary of the grasses," "the dark bandages of dusk." He wields color like a master painter -- "poppies along the near hill glisten like small fires, / Pink and orange and damp red." Yet the poet worries that he hasn't done enough." "All I have left undone, I hope someone will make good / in this life or the next." Littlefoot begins and ends in autumn, transforming melancholy to praise-song, "Praise for the left-over and over-looked, / praise for the left hand / And the horse with one lame leg." It is a hymn composed of "pennywhistle music" and silence "here under the latches of Paradise."
And women too. Luminaries from Colin Firth to Nick Cave and Jonathan Franzen chose the poems that bring them to tears, and the result is a stunning collection of poignant verse from writers like Auden, Whitman, Bishop, Larkin, Neruda and many others. Warning: choking-up hazard.
Trapped beneath his entertainment system, reality TV mastermind Rick Salter reflects on his life and tries to piece together the events of the previous evening. Seth Kaufman’s romp is an outrageous meditation on pain and entertainment in a deranged world in which the two are often interchangeable.
Frank Black, frontman for the Pixies, has written a transgressive historical fiction with shades of Thomas Pynchon (focused as it is on the history of explosives and cinematic pornography), all set in a hallucinatory Edwardian Europe.