The Bridge by Hart Crane My rating: 4 of 5 stars The Bridge (1930) is a long poem seven years in the making. It was written under several varieties of duress, alcoholism and despair chief among them, by a poet who would, within two years of his masterpiece's composition, take his own life at the … Continue reading Hart Crane, The Bridge
If American literature had been left wholly in the hands of established publishers—Ticknor and Fields, for instance—Longfellow might have remained our greatest poet. But Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs, a kosmos, had Leaves of Grass printed, at his own expense, in 1855—he even set most of the type himself. Likewise, if Virginia … Continue reading Literary Fiction: To Self-Publish or Not?
In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself by John Marsh My rating: 4 of 5 stars In Walt We Trust is blessedly less reductive than its overeager title and subtitle make it sound. John Marsh is a professor at Penn State specializing in American poetry and the literature … Continue reading John Marsh, In Walt We Trust: How a Queer Socialist Poet Can Save America from Itself
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle My rating: 3 of 5 stars Today, in honor of Halloween, the Paris Review is running an 1872 epistolary exchange between Bram Stoker and Walt Whitman. Sympathy between the authors of Leaves of Grass and Dracula is not as incongruous as it seems, given certain obvious sociopolitical realities—it makes … Continue reading Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles
Howl and Other Poems by Allen Ginsberg My rating: 2 of 5 stars I read this—and I don't think I've ever read this volume as a volume before, though I've read most of its contents, some multiple times over the years—to see if my longstanding judgment upon it holds up to maturer reconsideration. Stereotypically, one … Continue reading Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems
Harold Bloom has a new book coming out—rather like my grandmother, he's been falsely prophesying his imminent demise for almost my entire lifetime. Since the end will come for us all eventually, I'm always glad to see old Bloom fighting the good fight.* Now he lists his 12 authors who best exemplify "the American Sublime" (see the … Continue reading Sublimity Listed: Bloom’s 12 American Writers
My Goodreads reviews for the last month or so, novels and poetry and comics. Daniel Clowes, Ghost World Les Murray, Dog Fox Field Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, All-Star Superman J. M. Coetzee, The Master of Petersburg Walt Whitman, Song of Myself Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, Watchmen Charles Brocken Brown, Wieland and Memoirs of … Continue reading Goodreads Reviews September/October
Song of Myself by Walt Whitman My rating: 5 of 5 stars Whitman is one of those writers whose merits can get lost in their reputations; you forget how good he is when you're not reading him. His role as the mascot of a kind of kitschy Americana—especially ridiculous in this time of decline and … Continue reading Walt Whitman, Song of Myself