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Posts Tagged ‘Nick Laird’

Take a Walk with Our Summer Issue

June 2, 2014 | by

209That adorable canine on the cover is Boo, a shaggy brown Brussels griffon and an habitué of our old loft on White Street. Boo’s owner (and portraitist) is Raymond Pettibon, whose portfolio, “Real Dogs in Space,” is at the center of issue 209, fit for consumption in the dog days of summer.

Then there’s our interview with Joy Williams—whose stories have appeared in The Paris Review since 1969—on the Art of Fiction:

What a story is, is devious. It pretends transparency, forthrightness. It engages with ordinary people, ordinary matters, recognizable stuff. But this is all a masquerade. What good stories deal with is the horror and incomprehensibility of time, the dark encroachment of old catastrophes—which is Wallace Stevens, I think. As a form, the short story is hardly divine, though all excellent art has its mystery, its spiritual rhythm.

And in the Art of of Poetry No. 98, Henri Cole discusses his approach to clichés (“I like the idea of going right up to the edge of cliché and then stopping”), his collages, and his contempt for the sentimental:

Oh, I hate sentimentality. Heterosexual men are more susceptible to it than women, because middle age keeps telling them they’re gods. This is not true for women, however, who are often discarded. Is it possible that we can more readily see the bleakness of the human condition if life has been a little harder for us? Nothing kills art faster than sentimentality.

There’s also an essay by Andrea Barrett; fiction from Zadie Smith, J. D. Daniels, Garth Greenwell, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Shelly Oria; the third installment of Rachel Cusk’s novel Outline, with illustrations by Samantha Hahn; and new poems by Henri Cole, Charles Simic, Ange Mlinko, Nick Laird, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Les Murray, Adam Kirsch, Jane Hirshfield, and Thomas Sayers Ellis.

It’s an issue that, like Boo, commands immediate and frequent affection, and will keep you enthralled for years to come.

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What We’re Loving: George Packer, Joe Carstairs, Nick Laird

June 7, 2013 | by

joecarstairslarge

In a virtuosic long poem from his recent collection, Go Giants, Nick Laird inveighs against “the monotony of always being on a side!” Laird was born in Northern Ireland, but the complaint isn’t aimed only at sectarianism. His poetry, which shuttles between New York, Rome, and Cookstown, in County Tyrone, consistently escapes monotony and one-sidedness (including, in this case, a cricketeer’s pun on the word side). His book includes versions of Juvenal, Antoine Ó Raifteirí—a wandering bard and one of the “giants” of Laird’s title—and Anglo-Saxon poetry. You can also hear the nimble diction of Muldoon (“an atmosphere / flecked like emery paper, the finest grade, / that whets the seriffed aerials and steeples”) and the more ponderous music of Heaney (a summer job at a meatplant is spent “lugging plastic / crates of feathercut and paddywhack / and prime off the belt and onto palettes”). “Progress,” a long poem that rewrites Bunyun’s allegory, is a gathering of all these voices and ends up sounding like no one except Laird: “A fine baroque example / of how successfully the choral template / might adjust itself to fit an elliptic / non-contiguous life.” —Robyn Creswell

I recently visited my parents to help them sort through a lifetime of acquisitions in anticipation of a mammoth yard sale. Looking through boxes of my old books, I came across a favorite, The Queen of Whale Cay, and promptly reread it. Kate Summerscale’s biography is a vivid picture of Marion Barbara “Joe” Carstairs, a flamboyant figure of the Lost Generation. A boat racer, womanizer, dandy, and, yes, queen of her own island, Carstairs (an oil heiress) was also known for traveling everywhere with a doll, Lord Tod Wadley, who sported an equally dapper wardrobe. Summerscale was working on the Telegraph’s obit desk when she ran across the story of this forgotten figure; I’m so glad she did, and that I rediscovered my copy. (The office also acquired, from this foray, a brass whale, a crystal ball, and a harpoon.) —Sadie O. Stein

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