William Faulkner, Light in August, 1932
a haunting portrait of the American South, as Rev. Gail Hightower suggests, “peopled by the dead”
"A man will talk about how he’d like to escape from living folks. but it’s the dead folks that do him the damage. It’s the dead ones that lay quiet in one place and don’t try to hold him, that he cant escape from."
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera, 1985
What begins as a meditation on mortality becomes a serpentine digression on love, and, I realize, that is what art is. And so powerful to behold after the death of the author.
“He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
Kevin Powers, The Yellow Birds, 2012
“The war tried to kill us in the spring. As grass greened the plains of Nineveh and the weather warmed, we patrolled the low-slung hills beyond the cities and towns. We moved over them and through the tall grass on faith, kneading paths into the windswept growth like pioneers. While we slept, the war rubbed its thousand ribs against the ground in prayer. When we pressed onward through exhaustion, its eyes were white and open in the dark. While we ate, the war fasted, fed by its own deprivation. It made love and gave birth and spread through fire.”
The greatest “war novel” since The Things They Carried, Powers’ The Yellow Birds is a haunted, heart-wrenching, and deeply affecting portrait of the self in extremity and a nation unmoored.
Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding, 2011
an engaging but ultimately unsatisfying debut novel; baseball
Charles Shields, And So It Goes: Kurt Vonnegut: A Life, 2011
In an odd, misguided, and immensely frustrating biography of Kurt Vonnegut, Shields seems to forget that Vonnegut was, foremost, a literary artist, not a Park Avenue celebrity or target of speculative gossip. I may gather my thoughts into a coherent essay of this promising and ultimately disappointing piece.
"The Sandman" by Salvador Dali.
Here’s to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who died today. He was a grand master of magical realism, a lion of Latin American letters, and an extraordinary modern myth-maker. He could retell the history of the world in an instant and stretch the lives of his characters out to infinity.
Before reaching the final line, however, he had already understood that he would never leave that room, for it was foreseen that the city of mirrors (or mirages) would be wiped out by the wind and exiled from the memory of men at the precise moment when Aureliano Babilonia would finish deciphering the parchments, and that everything written on them was unrepeatable since time immemorial and forever more, because races condemned to one hundred years of solitude did not have a second opportunity on earth.
When Kurt Vonnegut wasn’t writing, he was drawing. “The making of pictures is to writing what laughing gas is to the Asian influenza,” he said. The New Yorker has a slideshow of 10 of his cubist sketches. You can find more of his doodles in the new book Kurt Vonnegut Drawings.
White Girls, Hilton Als
Donna Tartt, The Goldfinch, 2013
art and beauty’s inflection of reality — Tartt is both Platonic and Nietzschean
A jazz trio, The Bad Plus, plays the score to Igor Stravinsky’s gloriously noisy, 101-year-old fever dream of a ballet as literally as possible — and still manages to sound like itself.
Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers, 2013
art is modes of belonging
Olive Trees at Collioure by Henri Matisse (1905)