Misrepresenting Rural Poverty: The New Country Noir and the Lives it ForgetsFrom the Print

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…

Review: On Lydia Davis’ “Can’t and Won’t”From the Print

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.

Review: On Jonathan Littell’s "The Fata Morgana Books"From the Print

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…

Lampedusa BeachFrom the Print

“What do we do, my children and I, the days with no food?”
Mahama responded:
“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.”

FeatsFrom the Print

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…

Review: On "The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov"From the Print

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…