From November, 2018

The Tyranny of Memory: Yanagihara in Amsterdam

Hanya Yanagihara’s 2015 novel A Little Life can be briefly summarized as the story of four college roommates, their enduring friendship and soaring careers, but it is so much more than a big-city Bildungsroman. About 100 pages in to the book’s 720, Jude St. Francis, the most reserved member of the group, recalls the first of his “episodes,” bouts of physical agony that continue for the rest of his life: …the pain had been so awful—unbearable, almost, as if someone had reached in and grabbed his spine like a snake and was trying to loose it from its bundles of nerves…

On Tallulah Bankhead by Augustus Edwin John (1930)

I first saw her at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., having a few minutes to spare before scurrying off to a panel at a literary conference, my notebook still tucked between stiff fingers nicked by the cold. The chill hung onto my exposed knuckles through the long halls and wary high ceilings, and as I browsed figures painted stiff and presidential, others twisted pantheonic in contrapposto, I kept wandering, clattering as loose change. I drifted past the marble and cast bronze, meandered through both Davinci and Harlem’s Renaissance, and ascended stairs partially to test the property that heat…

Endnotes on Pale Fire

  Azure adj.    blue, bright, cloudless; (of love) cloudless: The false azure of cloudless love. And when a noun – heaven, palate, the roof of one’s mouth. Azure as in: The bright, bottomless vowels that once echoed against the roof of your mouth. Or: Unstuck from your palate, here I am – trying to speak your…