There is an incantatory quality to Nona Fernández’s The Twilight Zone, a feeling of walking, as though under a spell, and then accidentally tripping into the murky unknown. Translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer, the novel traces the reverberations of Pinochet’s dictatorship throughout Chilean life from the eighties to the present day, using pop culture—in particular the television series The Twilight Zone, though Ghostbusters, Billy Joel, and the Avengers movies are also invoked—as a jumping-off point. This is a brilliant move: when reality features frequent disappearances, torture, and televised interviews with the military members who committed these atrocities, it becomes its own kind of dark fiction. “I wonder how we’ll tell ourselves the story of our times,” the narrator thinks at one point. “Who we’ll leave out of the Nice Zones in the story. Who we’ll entrust with control and curatorship.” —Rhian Sasseen Read More
National Poetry Month has arrived, and with it a second series of Poets on Couches. In these videograms, poets read and discuss the poems that are helping them through these strange times—broadcasting straight from their couches to yours. These readings bring intimacy into our spaces of isolation, both through the affinity of poetry and through the warmth of being able to speak to each other across distances.
“Letters in Winter”
by Maya C. Popa
Issue no. 236 (Spring 2021)
There is not one leaf left on that tree
on which a bird sits this Christmas morning,
the sky heavy with snow that never arrives,
the sun itself barely rising. In the overcast
nothingness, it’s easy to feel afraid,
overlooked by something that was meant
to endure. It’s difficult today to think clearly
through pain, some actual,
most imagined; future pain I try lamely
to prepare myself for by turning your voice
over in my mind, or imagining the day
I’ll no longer hug my father, his grip
tentative but desperate all the same.
At the café, a woman describes lilacs
in her garden. She is speaking of spring,
the life after this one. The first thing
to go when I shut the book between us
is the book; silence, its own alphabet,
and still something so dear about it.
It will be spring, I say over and over.
I’ll ask that what I lost not grow back.
I see how winter is forbidding:
it grows the heart by lessening everything else
and demands that we keep trying.
I am trying. But oh, to understand us,
any one of us, and not to grieve?
Carrie Fountain is the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Life, and serves as poet laureate of Texas.
As is the case with far too many artists, the multitalented Frank Walter (1926–2009) did not receive his due during his lifetime. By all accounts a polymath—his second cousin recalls that “as a child, he’d sit us down under a fruit tree, and while he’s typing on one subject matter, he’s lecturing us on other matter”—Walter spent much of his life in relative solitude on Antigua, with his ideas and memories to keep him company as he painted, drew, wrote, sculpted, captured photographs, made sound recordings, and fashioned toys. He brimmed with a restless creativity; he left behind some five thousand paintings, two thousand photographs, fifty thousand pages of writing across various genres, and much more. A new exhibition featuring a fraction of this work will open at David Zwirner’s London gallery on April 15. A selection of images from the show appears below.
Giancarlo DiTrapano, the fearless founder, publisher, and editor of Tyrant Books, died this past week at the age of forty-seven. Fiercely independent and loyal to his writers through and through, he was an irreplaceable presence in the literary world, a one-man powerhouse of the avant-garde. With New York Tyrant magazine, he championed rising talents such as Rachel B. Glaser and Brandon Hobson, and his record with Tyrant was astounding: over the course of a little more than a decade, he published Scott McClanahan’s The Sarah Book, Marie Calloway’s what purpose did i serve in your life, an omnibus of Garielle Lutz’s short stories, Atticus Lish’s Preparation for the Next Life (an excerpt from which appeared in the Fall 2014 issue and received the 2015 Plimpton Prize), and plenty of other strange, deeply felt, highly original books. His work was far from finished. In the months preceding his death, he had been cementing plans to launch a new press. Below, four of his writers and friends (with DiTrapano, there was little distinction) remember his generosity, dark sense of humor, and commitment to literature.
I was at a reading, looking at a novel for sale on a folding table. A guy walked to my side and said what’s up. I said I wanted to buy the novel but had spent all my money on beer. “Take it,” he said. Looked like somebody I’d work construction with. “Take it.” He put the book in my hand. This was the publisher of the book, Giancarlo DiTrapano. An open person, a kind person. He’d just give a stranger something, no reason. I knew him only five years. Gone way, way, way too soon. Can’t think of anybody cooler. Was more alive than anybody else I knew.
I’ve always admired people who dream to do something and then seemingly before they’ve even woken up from the dream, there they are in the midst of it. At a kitchen table in a cramped apartment, launching something beautiful. That’s what he did. There’s a lot of talk about being “punk rock,” about being an individual—how is it even possible to walk one’s own path, by one’s own standards? I don’t know. But all you’d have to do is look at my shelf of releases from Tyrant Books. There they are, twenty of them in a row. Open any one. You can see the answer in there. Authors he deeply loved. Telling stories they had to tell. Each author could explain how passionate Giancarlo was. How when he believed in someone, in something, it was almost impossible to change his mind. You might get in a blowout fight over what the book needed, but in the end, what was birthed into the world was right, was beloved. Was real. Didn’t come out of a boardroom. The opposite. He rooted for the underdog. He helped the underdog come up into brighter light. Read More
Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.
This week at The Paris Review, we’re celebrating the release of Poets at Work, our latest anthology of interviews. Read on for work by three of the writers included in the book: Elizabeth Bishop’s Art of Poetry interview, Ishmael Reed’s poem “The Diabetic Dreams of Cake,” and Pablo Neruda’s poem “Emerging.” You can also read Paris Review poetry editor Vijay Seshadri’s introduction to the book on the Daily.
If you enjoy these free interviews, stories, and poems, why not subscribe to The Paris Review? You’ll also get four new issues of the quarterly delivered straight to your door. Or, subscribe to our new bundle and receive Poets at Work for 25% off.
Elizabeth Bishop, The Art of Poetry No. 27
Issue no. 80 (Summer 1981)
I can write prose on a typewriter. Not poetry. Nobody can read my writing so I write letters on it. And I’ve finally trained myself so I can write prose on it and then correct a great deal. But for poetry I use a pen. About halfway through sometimes I’ll type out a few lines to see how they look.
“With a mysterious smile on her lips,” writes the Chilean film director Alejandro Jodorowsky, “the painter whispered to me, ‘What you just dictated to me is the secret. As each Arcana is a mirror and not a truth in itself, become what you see in it. That tarot is a chameleon.’ ”
This comes from Jodorowsky’s The Book of Tarot; the painter in question is Leonora Carrington, the British-born, Mexico City–based surrealist famed in life and death as much for her strange, entrancing writings as for her visual art. And this quote appears in another book, Fulgur Press’s The Tarot of Leonora Carrington, which reproduces her newly discovered illustration of the Major Arcana. The tarot is a chameleon, yes, but as Carrington’s vision of it shows, so, too, is it a chance for both the imposition and the abandonment of narrative; in Carrington’s hands, as with her fiction, there is an embrace of the illogical, the fictive, the dream. Read More