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Performance: A Hard Act to Follow

“We’re talking about the birth of show business,” Trav S.D. writes in No Applause—Just Throw Money, his vibrant and engaging history of vaudeville. Thanks to the massive changes that separate our era from its own, the word “vaudeville” is now a synonym for “stale” and “antiquated.”

Brooklyn Boy Makes Good: Charles Reznikoff, the Poet of New York

The Poems of Charles Reznikoff is necessary reading for anyone interested in 20th-century American poetry. Reznikoff’s astonishingly engaging and quietly powerful work has been steadily gaining a passionate following.

In Conversation

Kate Braverman with Lisa Kunik

Kate Braverman is an experimental poet, short fiction writer, essayist and author of four novels, whose short fiction has been widely anthologized. Subversive, surreal, insightful and discerningly witty, Braverman never ceases to surprise.

Fiction: Some Girls

Today, the 1970s sometimes seem as distant and inscrutable as the Middle Ages. In her sparkling new novel, The Last of Her Kind, Sigrid Nunez illuminates that complicated time by introducing us to several characters who are still a product of that age.

Politics: Pro-choice or no choice

At first glance, Cristina Page’s How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America seems to belong in the fantasy aisle. Between the war in Iraq, Samuel Alito, global warming, and federal funding of anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers substituting school-based sex education, America seems far from salvation.

History: Back to Square One

Honestly, I rarely visit Times Square. Just trying to get past the maddening crowd—slow-moving tourists, screaming TRL fans, and beefy dudes heading to the ESPN Zone—can be a trying experience. Nevertheless, I kept an open mind while reading professor Marshall Berman’s On the Town, a whimsical, idiosyncratic history of Times Square. And it paid off.

No More Acts of God: Tim Flannery’s The Weathermakers

There’s no question that we’ve been a destructive species. The question is more of how long, and how much longer? New evidence suggests that it may even have been late-Pleistocene man that wiped out the era’s megafauna—giant sloths, beavers, camels—rather than climate change, as was believed.

Giorgio Morandi: The Art of Silence

In the 20th century pantheon of modernist European painters, Giorgio Morandi’s image of formal purity, and his reputation of personal asceticism has been second to none, except, perhaps, for Alberto Giacometti.

Not Quite Crazy, But Close Enough

Something in the human psyche revels in the failings of others. That’s probably the appeal of Richard Burgin’s recent collection of short stories The Identity Club.

The King of Boredom

A great big book of graphical scores, sound poems and experimental performative texts arrived in my mailbox recently. Doings by Jackson Mac Low (1922-2004) is a massive—and massively important—tome for anyone interested in the history of 20th innovative poetry.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2006

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