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Posts Tagged ‘Philip Larkin’

Philip Larkin’s “The Trees”

April 10, 2014 | by

daffodils

Photo: 4028mdk09, via Wikimedia Commons

It is spring now, and very hard not to feel in clichés. Especially with daffodils everywhere—and very cheap they are, too. “Telephone flowers,” a friend of mine calls them. I buy them by the armful; don’t you?

When I was thirteen, I wrote my first and last piece of fiction. It was about an old woman in a nursing home suffering from dementia and planning her garden through the winter. It was called “Living Time.” Even by thirteen-year-old standards, it was mawkish and I knew it. Because—the silliness of that act of ventriloquism aside—what new is there to say about spring? Read More »

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Dramatic Deaths, and Other News

October 21, 2013 | by

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  • Citing health concerns, Alice Munro says she will not travel to Sweden to accept her Nobel in person.
  • “For the first time I felt myself in the presence of a talent greater than my own.” The long, strange friendship of Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin.
  • “People are messes, every one of us.” Editor Giancarlo DiTrapano talks Tyrant. 
  • For its sixtieth anniversary, the Crime Writers’ Association has asked its six hundred writer-members to choose the best crime novel of all time. Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Raymond Chandler fight it out.
  • Speaking of hot competition, the ten most dramatic deaths in fiction.

 

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Dear Sally Draper, Maybe Wait a Few Years to Read This

May 3, 2012 | by

Dear Sally Draper,

You know what’s weird? You could be my mother.

I mean, you’re not, obviously. My mom’s a ginger and Jewish, and her sixties childhood was really quite different from yours, what with her not having Don Draper as a dad or Betty as a mom, and her not seeing her step-grandmother go down on Roger Sterling in the back room at an American Cancer Society Benefit.

So yeah, sucks to be you.

But what if things had gone differently? What if my mom had stayed with that painter who looked like Charles Manson and once punched my grandfather in the face, and my dad had met you instead among the bohemians inhabiting seventies Jerusalem, drinking wine on Old City balconies, discussing poetry and politics, and inhaling the sweetly mingling odors of bellflower and frying falafel?

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Crowdsourced Books, Twenties Muses, the World’s Worst Word

April 25, 2012 | by

  • Reckless, glamorous It Girls of the Jazz Age.
  • The strange tale of Bram Stoker.
  • For the first time since 1945, there will be a new German edition of Mein Kampf.
  • Perhaps inevitably, a crowdsourced book written by the Internet.
  • This Philip Larkin tribute was fantastic.
  • The people have spoken, and they loathe the word moist.
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    Michael Robbins on ‘Alien vs. Predator’

    March 27, 2012 | by

    Michael Robbins.

    Reading the poetry of Michael Robbins is kind of like driving around the parkways and frontage roads of America’s suburbs. His poems have a Best Buy, a Red Lobster, a Kinko’s, a Pizza Hut, and a Guitar Center; they reference the slogans of Christian billboards and the bumper stickers of hippies; they offer the choice between Safeway and Whole Foods and between the corporate classic-rock station, the corporate urban-music station, and All Things Considered. The poems are heavy with concern for the elephants, the whales, and the freedom of Tibet. They have a Rhianna song stuck in their heads.

    Among poets, Robbins follows in the footsteps of Frederick Seidel and Paul Muldoon in writing about contemporary life using more traditional poetic forms and rhyme. He also references and sometimes even quotes Philip Larkin, John Berryman, Theodore Roethke, Wordsworth, and others. But Robbins is more playful and less grandiloquent than his sometimes-grim forefathers: after reading his first book, Alien vs. Predator, the two things I kept thinking of were not poetry at all, but rather the short stories of George Saunders and the video art of Ryan Trecartin. As Saunders did with marketing jargon and Trecartin with reality television, Robbins congeals his suburban idyll, transforming its vacant vernacular into unsettling poignancy. And sometimes it’s even funny.

    I reached Robbins by phone in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. We spoke the day after Rick Santorum’s victory in that state’s Republican primary.

    Where are you working right now?

    I’m a visiting poet at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, which is where I’m staying and just waiting until I get out of this city.

    You don’t like it?

    The people are great at the university, my students are great, but Hattiesburg is … it’s just like if you opened a university in a Taco Bell, basically. It’s just the ugliest place I’ve ever seen in my life. Read More »

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    On the Shelf

    October 12, 2011 | by

    Steve Jobs. Photo by COG LOG LAB.

    A cultural news roundup.

  • Roberto Saviano has won the PEN/Pinter International Writer of Courage Award for his exposés on the Naples mafia.
  • Steve Jobs, the movie?
  • Catch-22, the cartoon!
  • Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker is now an editor at large at Faber & Faber.
  • Christopher Hitchens: “The influence of Larkin is much greater than I thought. He’s perfect for people who are thinking about death. You’ve got that old-line Calvinist pessimism and modern, acid cynicism—a very good combo. He’s not liking what he sees, and not pretending to.”
  • Amy Winehouse’s father, Mitch, will write a memoir.
  • Asterix goes on the road in his retirement.
  • Audio fiction goes Hollywood.
  • Dale Carnegie goes digital.
  • Margaret Atwood goes green.
  • Coetzee’s papers, meanwhile, go to the University of Texas.
  • “The first real recipes for what you could identify as biscotti come from about 1550 or so.”
  • Franzen on David Foster Wallace’s non-fiction.
  • Literary matchmaking.
  • Literary jerks.
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