Kathryn Cowles’s second book, Maps and Transcripts of the Ordinary World, contends with the formalism of poem as object, in the sense that a poem holds a literal position in space and time. Her eminently accessible, readable collection belies a circular and circling complexity that questions the role of language as a deictic tool in making sense out of a reality that exists with or without us.
Three novels in to his career, I think it’s safe to say that Dexter Palmer’s work can be sorted alongside the likes of Rupert Thomson, Ali Smith, and David Mitchell — which is to say, of writers who essentially reinvent themselves from book to book. Palmer’s latest novel, Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen, is set in 18th-century England. It’s as different from his previous novel, the heady time-travel novel Version Control, as Version Control was from its predecessor, the disquieting steampunk narrative The Dream of Perpetual Motion.
With March upon us, we’re another step closer to spring. What does the month have to offer in terms of new reads? A couple of debut novels we’ve been eager to read for a while, a foray into cosmic horror, some insightful literary criticism — and, of course, pirates. What’s not to like?
The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
Throughout his life, Alfred Jarry rarely held still. His is a body of work which defies easy classification, even in its more granular forms. As a writer alone, Jarry’s writings include fiction, plays, essays, and philosophy — and his work as a writer only accounts for a fraction of the art created in his 34 years on this planet.
The last time I talked with Amina Cain it was 2013 and the subject was her book Creature. Now, Cain has returned with a new book, Indelicacy — a novel about a woman’s artistic awakening amidst questions of art, intimacy, and class. It’s a difficult book to describe, because so much of its power stems from the manner in which Cain tells it story: what she keeps in, what she leaves out, and how she transforms the familiar into something almost fantastical. I talked with Cain about her new book and how she created it earlier this month.
Robbie Lee is an artist who thrives on collaboration. Among his recent partners: Guitarist Mary Halvorson, who won a 2019 MacArthur “Genius Grant,” and composer Lea Bertucci, whose album Resonant Field, named a top Jazz album of 2019 by the New York Times, featured Lee on flute.
In the following exchange, which took place over several months via a shared Google document, the multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer weighs in on David Bowie, his love of duos, NYC’s experimental music scene of the 1990s, and what it means to be a contemporary composer most comfortable in that liminal space between genres.
Some novels take their cues from history; others, from the author’s own life. For her new novel Ceremonials, Katharine Coldiron opted for a very different muse: in this case, the Florence and the Machine album with the same title. The resulting work is an expansive and constantly-shifting piece of fiction, one in which desire and identity blur together in a world that feels both archetypal and realistic. I spoke with Coldiron about the genesis of her new book and the process of translating music into words.