We’re living in a golden decade for rural escapist fare: the latest, most extreme iteration of a cultural construct that effectively removes people living there from society’s list of concerns. The effect of these savvy new Westerns is, in some ways, even more insidious than their progenitors’, since they incorporate the countryside’s decline into the genre’s standard narrative, and, in so doing, effectively ignore that decline by aestheticizing it. Now the cowboys aren’t discovering the west, they’re preserving it, this parallel society living alongside ours, all unknown and neglected folkways and byways, comfortingly unchanged in the face of global hyperactivity…
From the Print
Now she reached her fingers sleepily over the side of the bed, grabbed the first of Eli’s small thrashing arms that she encountered, held it for a moment as a type of greeting. What time was it?
They’re covered in their secret sitting and being calmly dark featured, and their history is a thing blood kept, but in their historical minds nothing but landscapes or bloodbaths, how can I know?
We wanted to make Mama’s insides beautiful,
to make her more beautiful,
to show slides—
so we installed an overhead projector there
(you can’t imagine how we managed)
and endeavored to project the world on her insides.
This removed, and slightly veiled, narrative condescension is a trademark of Ms. Davis’ writing in Can’t and Won’t, a collection which takes empty, circular bourgeois life as its subject, and then immediately seems to resent having done so. Ms. Davis writes as if she were forced to take on this subject, as if it were an assignment, and so many of her stories here read like transcriptions of (elegant) tantrums.
The stuff was thick. It was denser today, and so when Trimble dropped his key card outside his office door, it was not swallowed up like so many before it. Instead it rested on the surface, with its magnetic strip down…
… Erasing, blurring
and blowing. We’re marking
forever. Get this.
I am recording you.
I will keep you in my gut.
the cars are stalled.
Zounds the trucks. Litter and
it will hurt.
After the trucks depart, Clint faxes me: How long have you been peeking in our windows? I heard you weeping in the landscaping. You woke her up…
When beetles crawled out of my mouth, I closed my eyes and let them scuttle away. She stayed near the water. She ran her toe through the sand and watched the water smooth the rut…
Quietly composed for France’s Fata Morgana Press in the aftermath of The Kindly Ones—a monumental study on human baseness and Nazism—Mr. Littell’s new book at first appears to bear little resemblance to its precursor. Where The Kindly Ones is an exuberant historical novel, a 992-page behemoth of rape, incest, and murder, The Fata Morgana Books is a spare, 184-page collection of four short novellas, comparatively light, until the end, on physical violence, and stripped of the ornamental graces of period, geographical location, name, gender…
Bring the huge vernacular. / Bring trysts of jealous / gods and a girl changed into a tree / and the tree, bring it / back or forward into / the foreseeable quantum dawn / shielding opalescent fog…
“What do we do, my children and I, the days with no food?”
“Have the first one leave, have her leave on a day with no food.
Those who remain will watch her set out,
it will be their duty to cry.
When the heart suffers there is no hunger.”
To learn more about Nietzsche’s theory and praxis of generosity, it is also—or above all—necessary to address his “megalomania,” supposing this an appropriate designation for this author’s extraordinary talent to speak about himself, his mission, and his writings in the highest of tones…
Emmett could neither defend himself nor keep from growing sicker with every blow, his blackened eyes scanning the distance for a horizon by which to orient himself as his father cried and struck…
A major poet whose writing covered the better part of the twentieth century, Levertov is probably best known as an activist of the 1970s who strongly opposed the Vietnam War and fought for social justice. Others, especially Catholics, see her primarily as a religious poet—one who returned the spirit of Romanticism to its source in divine mystery…