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Posts Tagged ‘Brenda Shaughnessy’

Notes from a Bookshop: Late Summer, or Summer Is a Kind of Island

August 28, 2013 | by

DeLillo

3. Arcana

Of one order are the mysteries of light
and of another are those of fantasy
Rider Tarot Deck instructions

—Brenda Shaughnessy, Our Andromeda

A good friend came to visit this spring, and a few times during her stay, she pulled a book off the shelves, either from Moody Road Studios or at my home, shuffled the pages under her thumb, and stuck a finger on a line like an arrow hitting a bull’s-eye. Then she’d read the single line aloud, a kind of party trick.

This would typically happen when we’d be in the middle of a conversation, talking about some big questions that we were swirling at the time, the should-I-or-shouldn’t-I, will-this-work-or-not, should-I-take-this-chance kind of conversations that tend to occur after some Southern Comfort on a patio. She used whatever book was in her hand as a literary tarot, and believed the line would tell us all we needed to know. Usually, bizarrely, it worked.

I tried this on my own, but it fell flat. After the house was asleep, I would pose a question in my head and stalk a book, pull it from the stack before it could resist, flip open its pages and point hungrily at it, waiting for its answer. Each time, the result was tinny, hard-pressed, wanting. It reminded me of late nights with my Ouija board as a kid, waiting desperately for something to speak to me when I was really just waiting for my own voice.

People ask a lot of their books. They want them to be amazing, they want them to be cheap, they want them the moment they walk through my door. I often feel like a kind of carnival showman, flashing bright colors in front of the customer, hoping something catches their eye. People’s personal restrictions always amaze me. “I don’t read books with dogs in them.” “I don’t like to have to think too hard.” “I can’t buy books with white covers.” Really? Read More »

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Brenda Shaughnessy’s “I’m Over the Moon”

November 3, 2011 | by

It takes guts to apostrophize a heavenly body. Everybody’s seen them: Sappho, Keats, Mayakovsky, O'Hara, you name it. After all these millions of years, what’s left to say? And to write a poem addressing the moon herself—a breakup poem, no less!—you had better be extremely naive, or else know exactly what you’re doing, and get lucky, too.

This is what bravery looks like in a poem. It is not (necessarily) a matter of sharing personal information. To my mind, a brave poem is one that risks seeming stupid or grandiose or frivolous, that nods in recognition at various poems that came before, then sweeps past, racing toward the thing it came to say.

The first time I read Brenda Shaughnessy’s poem “I’m Over the Moon” five years ago, it was a Sunday and I was sitting at the breakfast table. I remember because “I’m Over the Moon” is the only poem I have ever read out loud at a breakfast table. Having read it, I had to share it. The poem  marked a new directness in Shaughnessy's work (“I've had to learn to be direct”), but all the sass and sense of humor I loved from before were intact. Lately “I'm Over the Moon” has been on my mind again (ever since we published two of Shaughnessy’s more recent poems in the Review).

It is the first entry in our series “The Poem Stuck in My Head”: Read More »

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Talking Dirty with Our Fall Issue

September 6, 2011 | by

It avails not, neither earthquake nor hurricane nor suspended subway service— The Paris Review comes out on time. It’s a doozy, if we say so ourselves, and not to be missed. Subscribe now, or renew, and receive a limited-edition Paris Review café au lait cup. You can sip in style while you enjoy a full year of fiction, poetry, and prose.

In the fall issue:

Nicholson Baker discusses the pleasures of writing smut:

Sexual arousal itself is a kind of drug. It has also turned out to be one of the few plots I can actually handle. If I imagine a man and a woman talking, and I know that later on they’re going to be taking some of their clothes off, that pulls me merrily along ... The basic boy-meets-girl plot in which they talk a little bit and then they have some kind of slightly bizarre sex—that plot I can do. Other plots are harder.

 

Terry Castle collects strangers’ children:

So many children—most of them obnoxious-looking. It’s a fact: 99 percent of all photographs ever taken have little brats in them. Mugging, leering, pushing one another. Wielding fearsome Betsy Wetsy 147 dolls. Pouting in pajamas on the floor over unsatisfactory Christmas presents. Prancing egotistically. The sort of kids that Wittgenstein, back when he was a mean, half-demented schoolmaster in the Austrian Alps or wherever it was—long before Cambridge and the Tractatus—would have walloped upside the head and thrown in the snow. How is it, indeed, that I have so many of them? More, even, than Joyce Carol Oates has written novels. And not one, needless to say, did I get for free.

Plus …

Geoff Dyer on Tarkovsky. Lydia Davis on translating Flaubert. The Dennis Cooper interview. Fiction by Roberto Bolaño and newcomer Kerry Howley. Poems by Sharon Olds, Brenda Shaughnessy, Constantine P. Cavafy, Paul Muldoon, Jeff Dolven, Meghan O’Rourke, and Forrest Gander.

Subscribe now!

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