Dan Chaon’s latest novel, Await Your Reply, starts in the middle of a particularly bloody scene: A severed hand on a bed of ice in a Styrofoam cooler is being rushed, along with its owner, to a hospital in Michigan. Chaon offers no further information; the details—teeth chattering, calluses on the
Despite their ever-present flora, it's somewhat false to call the poems in Micrographia "nature poems." While their topic may be the natural world—sumac and juniper, sparrows, lilacs, jots of fir—the book revolves on a much more ontological axis. An appreciation of nature is present throughout
"My life seems like a stranger's house to me," writes Werner Herzog late in Conquest of the Useless, less a straightforward diary of 1979-81, when he was working on Fitzcarraldo, than a series of "inner landscapes, born of the delirium of the jungle." The film tells the story of the title character
In “An Anxious Man,” the first story in James Lasdun’s new collection, It’s Beginning to Hurt, the protagonist, who is vacationing on Cape Cod, grumbles self-consciously about the falling prices of his stocks: “Joseph felt the petulant note in his voice, told himself to shut up, and plunged on.
Homer and Langley Collyer, two human relics from Edith Wharton’s New York, became legendary in late Spring of 1947 when they were discovered dead in their decaying Harlem town house on upper Fifth Avenue, immured behind a reported hundred tons of carefully hoarded debris. Most of that tonnage
In his 2001 novel, Erasure, Percival Everett conjured up the unforgettable Thelonius "Monk" Ellison, a middle-class writer of challenging fiction who enjoys a decidedly quiet (think polite applause) career until, fed up with a publishing industry and reading public interested only in "authentic"
Artists are in the business of simultaneously de-familiarizing and re-familiarizing us with the world around us. "Habit is a great deadener," Samuel Beckett explained, and art lends us a new pair of spectacles with which to view reality anew. Reading writer and actor Wallace Shawn's "Essays," a
In the fall of 1936, after a decade of not doing so, this magazine sponsored a poetry prize. Of the 1,800 poems submitted, said the editors of The Nation, "the overwhelming majority were concerned with contemporary social conflicts either at home or abroad." The winning poem, Wallace Stevens's "The