I want to think about distance and Jane Gregory’s new book of poems, Yeah No. Or something more like gapping. A space between concepts charged with those concepts’ distance, what holds discourse together (and molecules, and planets).
Van Den Berg gives loveliness to the gruesome while opening up the novel’s world to all kinds of ghosts. The real emotional power of the novel, however, beyond the elegance of its language and the precision and momentum of its telling, builds from what ends up being a brutal moment of confrontation.
“The Land Between Two Rivers” calls to mind James Agee’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” in that both books were written by “amateurs”—both Sleigh and Agee are/were first and foremost literary writers, yet their books are works of journalism.
On the dedication page for Henry Hart’s recent biographical work, The Life of Robert Frost: A Critical Biography, we find a quote from Yeats: “The intellect of man is forced to choose / Perfection of the life, or of the work.” Using it as the book’s guiding principle, Hart may be provoking us to ask whether those, like Frost, who “perfect the work” should also be expected to “perfect the life.”
In Her Body and Other Parties (Graywolf Press, 2017), Carmen Maria Machado explores the bodies, demons, and desires of twenty-first century women.