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"I think, in some basic way, I have a religious temperament. It's like being
sexy, for instance -- some people just are, you know? They're filled with that
thing that makes them sexy. Well, I'm filled with whatever it is that would
make a person religious, except I just don't have religion."
"At college I wanted to be a classicist until my last semester, when I took
a poetry workshop, applied to graduate school, and was accepted. Then I went
to Iowa, having barely heard of literary magazines. Everything was new. During
my second year, everyone said you're expected to send your thesis out to the
book contests, and idiot's luck, mine was taken the next year, and for a little
while I thought: "Yes, I'm a poet." But that whole time, before and during graduate
school, I was publishing fairly uninformed criticism in a now defunct book review,
and miscellaneous prose on the McSweeney's website -- I was all over the road.
I didn't really feel like a poet. Or a writer, come to think of it. In my five-year
college anniversary report, I declared myself a Freelance Copy Editor."
Humans in every recorded era seem to have had that after-the-end feeling. Some of them had special words for it. And at any given moment, there’s usually at least one group of radical utopianists who believe we can turn the world into something beautiful, and a group of fascists who want to cleanse it, and a group of leftists who want an underclass uprising, and a zillion groups of religious fanatics who create weird rituals around food and sex and money and prayer.
But look, this isn't really what Pohlman is about, or at least, not all of
what she's about. In a voice genuine and likable, she writes about a year that
really rocked her world, a year during which she turned a hard gaze on herself
-- on her choices, her behaviors and her words -- in a way that sounds easy
to do but isn't. And she gnaws right into the core of my ambivalence.
Barbara J. King
Clayton Eshleman and Lucas Klein present four poems by renowned Chinese poet Bei Dao, in a new translation.
"I didn't set out to write a novel with a political message but, of course,
everything we write has a message one way or the other. The best way to answer
you is to tell you that from the time I was a child I loved reading stories.
I spent long hours reading in my room but I could never find myself in the literature
I was given to read. Even as a literature major in college, I read many books
I loved but none of them included the essential me. None of the media sources
had realistic representations of my life and the lives of people I knew. What
I did see on TV and the movies was the oversexed, red-clad, wild Latina, the
gypsy-like curly haired, hoop-earringed Latina, the wisecracking, foul-mouthed
gangsta Latina. Then there were Rita Moreno, and Chita Rivera and even Raquel
Welch, the more palatable Latina."
Tsiolkas addresses this directly, "My nephews and nieces will have a different consciousness. There are such strong bonds between them and their grandparents, but there will be a less tense understanding of migrant ethnicity."
I think of my son, the little emperor controlling all at his yia yia's when Tsiolkas says, "You know, they will not be hampered by class. Their parents are not speaking of class in the same way their parents did."
, for all the correspondences between it and
, presents a significantly different texture. Butler may
confine his alterna-drama to a single indoor space, as Bell does, but it's a
space without a setting. There's a suggestion or two of the hurricane alleys
of the American South, but the context serves primarily as a platform for surreal
metamorphosis and extraordinary style.
"Marriage has become a luxury good, almost a status symbol in the U.S. It's
no longer necessary to be married, so why are people doing it? Because it is
the first-class way to live your personal life. People want to show their friends
and family they've made it. Marriage is the end of the quest, the top of the
mountain, a capstone. Marriage used to be the first step into adulthood and
now it's often the last. So people are postponing marriage while doing things
only married people used to do: living together, starting a career, having children.
In the 1950s people married first and THEN started adulthood. Now we don't marry
until we've completed young adulthood."