Dorothea Lasky's Rome begins with lines not from Ovid or Horace, but with Yeats: “Consume my heart away; sick with desire / and fastened to a dying animal…”; and Lasky’s poems adhere, on a subject level, to this epigraph. But Rome is a book about language and voice more than its subject matter: the carnality of humanity when we’re reduced to raw emotion—especially love and loss, which burn hot at the core of the book. Rome instead foregrounds diction and syntax, thereby asking its readers to pay attention not to the subjects themselves but to the ways in which those subjects are communicated. Lasky’s techniques are surprising if not outright shocking.
“People talk about the sea being monotonous, as they do about anything they don’t observe closely enough,” says the narrator of Medardo Fraile’s story “The Sea.” Reading the stories collected in Fraile’s Things Look Different in the Light, the Spanish author’s first book translated into English, one would have a hard time accusing Fraile of careless observation. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa, these twenty-nine stories prove Fraile to be an obsessive and precise writer who, like Anton Chekhov or Jane Bowles, is fascinated by the silent despair underlying everyday life. He confronts this subject by exploring the nature of storytelling. What purpose, he asks, do the stories we tell ourselves serve? Do they offer hope?
We're delighted to announce the winners and runners-up of this year's Iowa Review Awards in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. Many thanks to all who entered and to our judges, Kevin Brockmeier, Srikanth Reddy, and Wayne Koestenbaum. Without further ado...
In David Roderick’s second book, The Americans, a complicated national citizenry emerges, stirred by dreams and privileges, violence and regret, utterly insistent on borders, however blurred they may be, and intent on home as a pastoral heartland. The book is split in near-even halves: Section 1—18 poems, 31 pages; Section 2—19 poems, 34 pages. Both sections contain three “Dear Suburb” poems, each of the poems an intimate letter to suburbia exposing a vulnerable and conflicted speaker. The book’s design, favoring as it does a balancing of parts, achieves order amid the collection’s considerable thematic range.
The moments that matter last a lifetime—but whose?
A mother spends her oldest boy’s twenties wanting him to come home, and when he does he brings a limp from shooting up with a dirty needle. Heroin, between the toes. He hasn’t seen a doctor. He hangs up his coat in a closet packed, we imagine, with other jackets that look like his. His brother’s and his father’s. He doesn’t want to be alone.
“He wants to feel better,” Lucas Mann writes in Lord Fear, a new memoir from Pantheon,“and she will help him feel better, watch the relief, impermanent but still sweet, move across his face.” “He” is Mann’s half-brother, Josh; “she” is Beth, Josh's mother, who keeps him vivid after he is gone.