Wheeling Motel - Franz Wright

Franz Wright is the son of the poet James Wright, and though the father isn’t named in these poems, “his Everest shadow” falls constantly over the younger Wright’s life and work. Like his father a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and beset with depression and substance abuse, Franz struggles “in the mask of the first person” to achieve his own voice. The poems in his tenth collection, Wheeling Motel (Knopf, $26.95) are spare, frank lyrics that often ride the knife’s edge between pain and an achingly beautiful poignancy. Otherwise, they move restlessly among lists, sing-song rhymes, mock interviews, hallucinations, and dreams. Wright focuses squarely on unhappiness—including his father’s—but moves through it quickly, finding a difficult comfort in language; in music, “which told me early I should be filled with joy”; and, most of all, in faith, which “will tell you what no eye has seen/teach you to see/what no ear has heard.” 

Wheeling Motel: Poems By Franz Wright Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375711473
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Published: Knopf - August 16th, 2011

Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece - Declan Kiberd

Can attaining “classic” status be the kiss of death for a book? Ulysses And Us (W.W. Norton, $28.95) is an enthusiastic, knowledgeable tour of Joyce’s masterpiece by a guide dedicated to showing readers they can tackle the novel on their own. Declan Kiberd, an Irish literature professor, removes the book from the Empyrean clouds and puts it back where it belongs, in the Dublin of 16 June 1904. He reminds us that Joyce wrote about ordinary people for ordinary people, that he was a socialist and felt more at home among workers than intellectuals. His narrative unfolds through mundane errands, pub chats, jokes, a funeral, a cuckolding, and plenty of drink. The characters observe the goings-on and the passers-by, and out of this modern welter of activity Joyce conveys the dignity and wisdom of everyday life, intending his story to offer a few chuckles and help people cope. Now, what’s so intimidating about that?

Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Life in Joyce's Masterpiece By Declan Kiberd Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393339093
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Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 22nd, 2010

Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector - Benjamin Moser

Clarice Lispector (1920-1977) was born in the Ukraine but became one of Brazil’s most admired modern writers. Her novels are steeped in Spinoza and Jewish mysticism, yet she was also a popular newspaper advice columnist. She earned a law degree, married a diplomat, and lived in Europe and the U.S., all the while writing fiction that was rich, strange, and even shocking. To produce such a remarkable writer required an incredible set of circumstances, and Benjamin Moser’s fascinating  Why This World (Oxford Univ., $29.95) looks back to the years before Lispector’s birth for the sources of her art. Her family barely escaped the pogroms in their small village of Chechelnk. Lispector, though an infant when the family fled to Brazil, always felt a particular guilt: her mother contracted syphilis as a result of a gang-rape by Russian soldiers, and her parents tried the folk remedy of conceiving a baby as a cure. Needless to say, her mother’s condition worsened and she died when Clarice was seven. Such nightmares haunt Lispector’s work, as do passion, mysteries, and the quest for authentic identity.

Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector By Benjamin Moser Cover Image
ISBN: 9780199895823
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Published: Oxford University Press, USA - May 1st, 2012