The Daily

Posts Tagged ‘T. S. Eliot’

Eliot’s Pen, Fabio’s Mane, and Other News

March 18, 2013 | by


  • With Charles Dickens’s quill a bit the worse for wear, the Royal Society of Literature begins signing its roll book with T. S. Eliot’s fountain pen. James Wood inaugurates. 
  • In the New York Post, poet Bob Holman shares a guide to his poetic New York, which includes the White Horse Tavern, the Hare Krishna tree, and the Nuyorican Poets Cafe.
  • Will independent bookstores fill the gaps left by Borders? In Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, at least, this might be happening! 
  • Speaking of: Did you catch this list of über-indie bookstores in private homes
  • Happy birthday, Fabio: here are his best book covers



House of Poesy: At the Grolier Poetry Book Shop

February 26, 2013 | by

2344815284_eef84104c5The Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts, is both a misnomer and an anomaly. It has long dedicated itself to the task of promoting the reading and writing of poetry and has, for eighty-five years, served as a niche for poets the world over. While its reputation has bloomed over the years, thanks largely to word-of-mouth praise, it has never fared well financially, partly due to competition from larger stores and the Internet, partly because poetry has never been popular with the masses, and partly because its founder seems to have done everything in his power to ensure that his store not be turned into a business.

Located on Plympton Street in Harvard Square, the Grolier occupies just 404 square feet of space and is dwarfed by the neighboring Harvard Book Store. A white square sign with meticulous black lettering juts out near the top of the store entrance. The font size decreases from top to bottom, much like on an eye exam chart, and one can just make out, at the very top, a finely done illustration of three cats (or is it the same cat?) dozing, grooming, and turning their backs on the viewer.

Upon ascending a small flight of steps, one is greeted by the sight of an abundance of colorful spines—approximately fifteen thousand—neatly arranged against nearly every flat surface of the shop. These volumes are neatly balkanized into several categories, including anthologies, used, African-American, early English, Irish, Russian, Chinese, Iranian, Indian, Latin, classical Greek, Japanese, Korean, East European, Spanish, and Catalan.

Above the towering shelves are approximately seventy black and white photos (many courtesy of the photographer Elsa Dorfman) of poets and other members of the literati for whom the Grolier has served as a meeting place for well over half a century. Among the Grolier’s most illustrious visitors, most of whom are smiling or gazing sagely and serenely ahead in the photos, are T. S. Eliot, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, e. e. cummings, Marianne Moore, James Tate, Donald Hall, and Helen Vendler.

Off to one side at the front of the store sits a lean shelf of chapbooks and a donation jar; a small note says that the chapbooks have been generously donated by the author and that monetary contributions to the shop would be greatly appreciated. Directly across this bookcase is the cash register, propped up on a desk and flanked by sundry items, including bookmarks, promotional literature, pamphlets, business cards, and commemorative pens. On the wall right adjacent to the register hangs a certificate from Boston Magazine honoring the Grolier as the best poetry store of 1994. Read More »


Roses Are Books, and Other News

February 14, 2013 | by

  • “Roses are books, Violets are books. Everything is books. EVERYTHING IS BOOKSrosesbook.” 
  • “[S]he does not talk much, this quaint Fairy, but she looks whole histories. Her gaze is softly wistful, and often abstracted; at certain moments her spirit seems to have gone out of her on invisible wings.” Oh yeah, Oscar Wilde’s wife. 
  • Poet D. Vinayachandran received a state funeral yesterday in West Kallada, India. 
  • “Incidentally, I do not even remember whether I meant Sam Johnson or Ben Jonson ... It is Jonson in my text, but is this a misprint? No one will ever know.” A new T. S. Eliot letter is found. (Well, new to us; it was written in 1957.)



What We’re Loving: Carson, Hatterr, Fidel

February 8, 2013 | by


If you’re going to judge a book by its endpapers, then I recommend Julie Morstad’s The Wayside. I’ve spent a fair amount of time imagining them on the walls of the drawing room I don’t have. It helps that the rest of the book—all new drawings by the Canadian illustrator—is equal parts charming and strange. There’s definitely an Edward Gorey–esque feel to her work, but I also see occasional hints of William Pène du Bois (in a troupe of women acrobats) and Amy Cutler (in the wonderful patterned textiles). I think my favorite drawing may be a double gatefold depicting groups of flatly rendered performing-arts kids doing their thing. It’s Attic form meets Fame. —Nicole Rudick

In the early fifties, a married Cuban socialite has an epistolary romance with a dashing political prisoner. They meet for one night, and the woman bears his child. Meanwhile the young man, freed from prison, seizes command of the struggle against Batista and becomes ruler of their country. It sounds (and reads) like a novel, but Havana Dreams, Wendy Gimbel’s 1998 portrait of Naty Revuelta and her daughter Alina, is a work of intimate reportage, and the relationship of these two women to Fidel Castro takes on an uncanny symbolic weight. The book invaded my own dreams. —Lorin Stein Read More »


What We’re Loving: Ham Biscuits, Victoriana

January 25, 2013 | by

Over the weekend, I had one of those magical visits to the Strand where you find exactly the book you’re looking for: in this case, Julia Reed’s Ham Biscuits, Hostess Gowns, and Other Southern Specialties, a collection of Reed’s food essays for the New York Times Magazine. I read it in a single sitting and came out feeling like the author was an old friend, and with a serious hankering for deviled eggs. Reed’s life sounds glamorous and fun and filled with friends, and she writes about the South’s idiosyncrasies with warmth and authority. Only, don’t try to get it at the Strand: I nabbed the only copy. —Sadie O. Stein

How does The New York Review of Books even exist? Historians will marvel that something so good could last so long. Although we may never wrest an interview from our hero Robert Silvers—who founded the Review fifty years ago with the late Barbara Epsteinothers are ready to talk. Radio host Janet Coleman kicks off a series of New York Review reminiscences at their blog. —Lorin Stein

Downton Abbey has lately inspired me to read serial novels of Victorian England, allowing me to experience the same kind of long-term relationship with characters and the same range of social strata. Recently, I’ve been enjoying The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, of which T. S. Eliot said, “Everything that is good in the modern story can be found in The Moonstone.” A Victorian mystery with a dash of Indiana Jones, far from esoteric and very accessible. —Andrew Plimpton

Romanian concert pianist Radu Lupu performed at Carnegie Hall last night. It was a lovely program, by all accounts, but the second half of the evening was truly phenomenal. Sitting in a high-backed chair and moving his body infrequently, and then only slightly, Lupu played Book II of Debussy’s Préludes with tender forcefulness. The tension between his stoic person and romantic musicality was performance enough; in some ways, the music itself seemed irrelevant, though it’s been running through my head since. There’s no recording of Lupu playing it, that I can find, but this series on YouTube features a rendition by Sviatoslav Richter. —Clare Fentress

Mad Men fans were buoyed this week by the news that season six is set to premiere April 7. I doubt that I need to convince anyone of Matthew Weiner’s brilliance at this point—but what other show would use “Meditations in an Emergency” to illustrate a character arc? References to Frank O’Hara bookend season two, even taking “Meditations in an Emergency” as the finale episode’s title. If this intrigues you, check out this blog run by Steve Brauer, a professor at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. Especially good is this bit of criticism: “What Frank O’Hara Tells Us About Don Draper.”  —Laura Creste

In Love, by Alfred Hayes, is a slim novel from 1953 that deserves to be better known. The cover of the new edition features an Elizabeth Bowen quote in which she terms the book “a little masterpiece,” and I’ve rarely seen the breakdown of a relationship, in all its banality and pettiness, evoked more vividly. It’s tough, fresh, very lovely, and will stay with you. —S.O.S.


The Netherfield Ball, and Other News

January 18, 2013 | by

  • In honor of Pride and Prejudice’s two hundredth anniversary, the BBC is re-creating the Netherfield Ball at Chawton House, Hampshire. The unfortunately named Pride and Prejudice: Having A Ball at Easter, which will air on BBC 2, is for some reason ninety minutes long, and we would like an invitation.
  • The Bell Jar, meanwhile, is a spring chicken at fifty.
  • Philip Roth disagrees with most readers as to which of his novels are the best.
  • What is the obsession with ranking things? May we rephrase? Here are a few of America’s best bookstores.
  • If Mr. Eliot had to have a day job, why is it that writers and poets today are so cagey about what they do to pay the bills? Or, as someone at a Williamsburg party once put it, “What do you do—not for money?”