The Blog

Dorothea Lasky's ROME

Alana Folsom

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.

The Inexorable Deterioration of Narrative: On Medardo Fraile’s THINGS LOOK DIFFERENT IN THE LIGHT

Alex McElroy

“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?

David Roderick's THE AMERICANS

Ben Jackson

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.

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