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In Conversation

An Increased Clarity of Address: KEVIN KILLIAN with Tony Leuzzi

“That’s an awful lot of me,” Kevin Killian observed when I sent him proofs of the interview that follows this introduction—“Do we need it all?” On the surface, such candid self-effacement seems unlikely in a writer whose work is so searching and confident, but Killian’s apparent lack of ego may be connected to his fascination with makeshift art.

Osama Alomar's The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories

By 2012, Syrian author Osama Alomar (born and raised in the city of Damascus, until expatriating in 2008) already had something of a foothold amongst a certain North American literary elite. He had escaped before his country’s Arab Spring/Civil War etcetera, well on his way, embarking on his second life abroad by necessity.

The Movement Toward Art

I’m on the record as having said this elsewhere, but it bears repeating: the most fundamental problem of criticism today is the belief that, by definition, an act of criticism is an act of argumentation.

Chris Kraus’s After Kathy Acker

Kathy Acker’s influence over an entire generation of disaffected young women has yet to be fully explored, but with Chris Kraus’s new biography, Acker’s importance as a writer is finally being acknowledged.

The Debacle

If we can’t place the words precisely in time, still many of us remember the electrifying phrase, “J’Accuse…” headlining an old French newspaper and set into facsimile in our high school History textbooks.

Laura Jane Grace and Dan Ozzi’s Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sellout

The first thing you need to know about this memoir is that it gets better. Not only does life get better for Laura Jane Grace (née Tom Gabel), but the book itself gets better.

Peter Markus’s Inside My Pencil: Teaching Poetry in Detroit Public Schools

Inside My Pencil: Teaching Poetry in Detroit Public Schools, Peter Markus’s teaching memoir, is warm, patient, and wise—an enchanting “how-to” sparkling with pedagogical gems.  The book follows Markus as he teaches poetry for InsideOut Literary Arts Project, a nonprofit program that brings arts education to inner city Detroit elementary school students.

The Care for Precision

There’s gotta be a German word for the feeling. It’s somehow total joy and a huge swell of sorrow simultaneously—the joy bigger than the sorrow but still deeply tempered. The feeling’s what you get while watching a really great film whose uplift costs significantly (the not-coincidentally German Lives of Others, for instance), and it’s the feeling I felt on finishing John McPhee’s latest, Draft No. 4.

Matthew Vollmer’s “Situated Self”

At a time when there are so many good writers at work, it’s not easy to separate my “want more” from my “not right now” writers. It wasn’t easy to do so with the last generation either—a task which I nonetheless undertook in Suburban Ambush to talk about those writers who, having cleared away the late modern invasive growth being sustained by all the wrong economies, did something interesting with the plot of narrative ground they’d cleared.

Empire of Intimacy: Ishiguro’s Nobel

Kasuo Ishiguro, a Japanese-born British novelist, has been awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in literature. By nature, I confess to not being a fan of celebrity or hero. I admire, study and respect ethical people of insight and daring achievement.


The Brooklyn Rail

NOV 2017

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