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A new translation of some landmark Anglo-Saxon poems has arrived: Curious Masonry, translated by Christopher Patton. It does not matter if poems are old or new, or whatever the language—all poetry is a real or imagined flare-up of being.

In Conversation

CHARLES BERNSTEIN with Adam Fitzgerald

Charles Bernstein is the author of Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions (University of Chicago Press, 2011); All the Whiskey in Heaven: Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010); Blind Witness: Three American Operas (Factory School, 2008); and Girly Man (Chicago Press, 2006).

In Conversation

RAINER J. HANSHE with Audrey Gray

The Acolytes, by Rainer J. Hanshe, depicts an entangled coterie of actors and authors in contemporary New York City. Terence and Gabriel are young actors at the start of their careers, Ivan is their controlling and compulsive director, and Amos is the clairvoyant author/playwright around whom the others gravitate.

In Conversation

MOLLY JONG-FAST with Susan Marque

I recently had the opportunity to meet Molly Jong-Fast and speak with her about her new comic novel, The Social Climber’s Handbook (Villard, 2011), in which Daisy Greenbaum, an unlikely serial killer who lives on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, volunteers at a soup kitchen and cares for her family.

When Everything Stinks of Decay

When Thomas Bernhard’s Heldenplatz (Heroes’ Square) premiered in 1988, self-appointed defenders of Austria’s noble heritage unloaded a truckload of horseshit in front of the steps to the Burgtheater in Vienna.

Making it New (Again)

In the beginning of Yellow Back Radio Broke-Down, Ishmael Reed’s hilarious parody of the dime store Western, Loop Garoo Kid offers his view of the novel as an art form: “No one says a novel has to be one thing. It can be anything it wants to be, a vaudeville show, the six o’clock news, the mumblings of wild old men saddled by demons.”

Reclaiming Intimacy One Film at a Time

Intimacy. Why do we need it? How do we preserve it in a time when being present means being everywhere and nowhere at once, between Facebook statuses, Google, and Twitter? Masha Tupitsyn’s LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film considers these questions and visual culture at large through the private/public sphere of the Internet.

And the Son Coughed Up the Son

Blake Butler’s highly anticipated novel, There Is No Year, has had a controversial start in the criticism world. Baffling to many, those unsure of how to perceive the work avoid discussing it altogether.

When We Danced on Water

The scene is a small café in Tel Aviv. An 84-year-old male ballet phenomenon engages his waitress in conversation. He always orders the same thing: espresso, a side of steamed milk, water with lemon. Initially she ignores his advances, but quickly succumbs to his persistence.

Falling Sideways

Set in Copenhagen, Falling Sideways is a corporate novel that challenges the status quo life. Most of the characters work for the Tank, a Danish think tank-like organization with a vague “interdisciplinary policy mission.” Besides being a play on the organization’s function, the Tank’s name hints at an unstoppable menace—downsizing is about to wreak havoc on its employees.

The Architect of Flowers: Stories

The raw, emotional narrative voice that runs throughout William Lychack’s book of short stories keeps readers on edge. While there are a myriad of different perspectives—a hybridizer and his paranoid wife, a police officer, a ghostwriter, a school teacher with mythic origins—the narrative voice feels continuous.

Don Juan: His Own Version

Peter Handke brings us an interesting look at the apparently oft-misunderstood legend of Don Juan. We as readers are granted access to the sensitive side of this legendary womanizer by the narrator, a slightly depressed chef and innkeeper whose business is less than thriving in the French countryside where he makes Don Juan’s acquaintance.


Blank, Davis Schneiderman, performances mime and "qua book or qua gesture."

Toward You

In the final installment of Jim Krusoe’s trilogy about life and death, the protagonist, Bob, reupholsters furniture, bakes cakes, fights with his neighbor, and attempts to communicate with the dead through a helmet made of egg cartons. Well, egg cartons and a microphone.

Rapid Transit

Elizabeth Willis shares her Address, making the word and the world one. Magic is at work in the “willed adventure of the alpine grass.” “Yesness Park” signals go. These poems are surefooted, yet unpredictable.

The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry

A cornucopia of pleasures, some that come with a sapient sting, FSG’s new bilingual anthology of Latin American poetry provides something for everyone in its great variety and generous, ecumenical selection.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2011

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