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From the Archive: "Letter in the New Year," by Donald Hall

“Do you remember our first / January at Eagle Pond, / the coldest in a century? / It dropped to thirty-eight below— / with no furnace, no storm / windows or insulation. / We sat reading or writing / in our two big chairs, either / side of the Glenwood, / and made love on the floor / with the stove open and roaring. / You were twenty-eight. / If someone had told us then / you would die in nineteen years, / would it have sounded / like almost enough time?”

Jenny Diski is Getting On With It

Diski’s essays on death hold these things together brilliantly, somehow even beautifully. Her writing, which weaves without warning between a methodical, detailed account of treatment and the daily life of the dying and more ethereal, abstract passages, suggests the experience of losing lucidity and finding it again that a drugged body undergoes. It is to the LRB’s credit that they let Diski, who has been writing regularly for the publication since 1992, do whatever she damn well pleased. And in this way, Diski transcends her clinical status as body-cum-puzzle-piece to be wedged in a machine; she is throughout an active observer and writing subject, who tells us on the other side of chemo that, “the entire process makes me think of clubbing baby seals.”