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Posts Tagged ‘The Guardians: An Elegy’

Poetic Doubt; Battling Anxiety

March 30, 2012 | by

I recently read Poets in Their Youth, by Eileen Simpson. Now I’ve taken to doubting my every turn. Am I a lout? A drag on my partner’s freedom and happiness? Am I going to drink myself into a coronary or into some sort of baking mishap? Is there anyway I can pretend that I won’t die cold and alone?

Ash Ponders

Dear Ash,

From your note it’s hard to tell whether you’re a poet or a poet’s main squeeze. Those are both high-pressure jobs and generally conducive to drinking. But take heart. For whatever reason, poets today—even good ones—are much less likely to walk in front of a car, or gas themselves, or even destroy their livers than poets fifty years ago. This makes them easier to live with, I imagine. (How could it not?)

Like, perhaps, more than a few of your readers, I am an anxious person. This anxiety manifests itself in a number of ways, but one of the most taxing is when it renders me extremely irritable. Feeling overwhelmed by a cornucopia of small tasks, I sometimes experience an actual skin-crawling physical discomfort as I attempt to slog through them—it’s nails-on-a-chalkboard all over if someone tries to talk to me or sends me an e-mail or if I even glance at any of my open tabs in Chrome. I have the feeling that reading should help—but all those tiny words on a page! It just makes me feel even more agitated. Do you have any particularly soothing books you could recommend? The book equivalent of a warm bath? (Obviously one can’t take a warm bath at work. Or at least not at mine.)

Tim

First, turn off your computer. You could have the calm of a lama, and you still wouldn’t be able to read a book and keep an eye on your e-mail. It can’t be done.

Now, are you able to sneak out of the office? If so, head to the nearest library. Really. In my last job I used to take the subway up to the Forty-second Street library whenever I could. One day I got busted by my editor-in-chief. He was doing the exact same thing.

If you can’t leave your desk, then close your door. If you can’t close your door, try earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.

Readers of this column know my opinion of the Jeeves books. They are gratinee for the soul. Kids’ books lower my blood pressure, too: Roald Dahl, Narnia, E. Nesbit’s Complete Book of Dragons. My grandfather, in his long final illness, swore by Trollope.

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Two ‘Paris Review’ Events Not to Be Missed

March 6, 2012 | by

This week, The Paris Review takes over New York!

Tonight, editor Lorin Stein will be at McNally Jackson with Sarah Manguso to discuss her new book, The Guardians: An Elegy. David Shields rhapsodized that The Guardians “is very pure and elemental, and I wanted nothing coming between me and the page.” Don’t let anything stand in your way, either; stoke your excitement for the discussion by reading our excerpt of the book here!

 

Then, on Friday, Geoff Dyer and John Jeremiah Sullivan, both contributors to our two-hundredth issue, discuss their books Zona and Pulphead at 192 Books. A man whom Zadie Smith dubbed a “national treasure” and our Southern editor in one room? We can’t imagine anything better.

We hope to see you there!

 

 

Sarah Manguso in Conversation with Lorin Stein
March 6, 7 P.M.
Location: McNally Jackson
52 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012

Geoff Dyer in Conversation with John Jeremiah Sullivan
March 9, 7 P.M.
Location: 192 Books
192 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
RSVP only. To reserve your spot, call 212-255-4022.

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