Reviews - June 2011

But there is a person there

A review of 'The Morning News Is Exciting'

Okay, okay. I’ll admit it. I definitely judge a book by its cover. And Don Mee Choi’s debut, The Morning News Is Exciting, is no exception. The front cover sports a large, white exclamation point, penetrated by hundreds of colored bands that seem to explode from the spine. Yes, exciting, to say the least! Robert McKenna’s cover design is conceptually derived (the process is described in the end matter) and quite arresting, but I actually spent more time considering the back cover. Like any curious reader, I wanted to know what I was getting myself into, and who had recommended it.

Either dissolve a genre or invent one

A review of 'Bluets'

In an interview with Bomblog, Maggie Nelson says she began writing Bluets because she wanted to spend time thinking and writing about something she loved — in this case, the color blue — rather than something she found despicable and frightening. “But because I am who I am,” Nelson says, “or because pleasure is what it is, the book quickly slid into dealing with pain too.”


A review of 'The Port of Los Angeles'

As Frank O’Hara wrote, “You don’t refuse to breathe do you.” As he implies, life in an urban environment requires a person to be absorptive, to breathe it in, to absorb all forms of toxicity into ourselves. Of course, O’Hara would be quick to remind us that the toxicity is precisely what we come to the urban environment for, because toxicity is exciting.

The Sickbed

On pain, love, ekphrasis, and Craig Dworkin's 'Dure'


“It is extraordinarily enduring.”

v. to last; to suffer continuously. Or, to harden. In good sense, to make sturdy or robust; to strengthen. Also, of things, to permit of, or be compatible with. Drawing from scar, from mirror. Verse formed from the heart’s tear. A letter that one is scared into. Afraid for. “We are nostalgic not for what we no longer have, but for what we never had in the first place, and what we never, at the time, thought to miss, or even notice.”

It is the measuring of time that causes each pain to remain.

A global regional poetics

A review of 'A Community Writing Itself'

The literary interview is a genre whose value is as likely to be taken for granted as it is ignored. Yet at their best, interviews with writers can be unique sources of knowledge. More casual than scholarly essays and often less packed with specialized vocabulary, literary interviews, when done well, can cover quite a range: information about writers’ lives and feelings about their lives; precise details about composition; essential historical context for thinking about writers’ works; chances for writers to talk about what they think their writing has most essentially explored.