March 28, 1999 |
About a year ago, having nothing new to read, I picked up Henry James' "Portrait of a Lady," which I hadn't read in 20 years, and began rereading it. It was an astonishing experience. The book was much better than I had remembered it; more to the point, I was a much better reader of it. Isabel was infinitely more appealing to me than she had been when I was her age: I felt I understood, finally, what she thought she was doing with her life.
April 17, 2005 |
Howard PHILLIPS LOVECRAFT fans -- including August Derleth, who co-founded a press, Arkham House, in part to posthumously publish Lovecraft -- have always argued that Lovecraft's weird tales belonged squarely in the center of American literary tradition, that his style was a natural descendant of 19th century writers such as Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Besides, Lovecraft was given the literary stamp of approval in 1928 when Edward J.
August 7, 2005 |
PITY the poets of the mid-20th century. Dead for only a few decades, Berryman, Bishop, Lowell and Merrill -- to name but a few -- sit in libraries gathering dust. Time and familiarity have silenced their voices. The world has sped beyond them. What does it matter, then, to say that Theodore Roethke was one of the most honored?
October 27, 2002 |
America is, famously, the republic of reinvention, where peoples the world over have sought an escape from history, a new identity in a land of seemingly endless possibility. California, of course, is, as Susan Sontag has remarked, "America's America," and Los Angeles has for more than 100 years been a terminus, the destination of desire. Despite its notorious reputation for making a fetish of the body and eschewing the life of the mind, Los Angeles has been a magnet for writers.
November 9, 1997 |
I have a confession to make. With the exception of the "Killer Inside Me" and "Thieves Like Us," I come to the 11 novels in this excellent two-volume compendium through the movies: I saw the film adaptations before I read the books, and because the lens through which I came to know noir was filmic before it was literary, I often hesitated to pick up the book.
March 3, 1985 |
The Library of America continues to be the most astonishing, ambitious and admirable publishing venture in many a year. Its aim is nothing less than to present the complete works of preeminent American writers from the beginnings until now, in uniform, usable and enduring volumes. The books are at that marvels of mass printing, with sewn bindings that let the books lie open although they run to as many as 1,500 pages.