Photo by bwaydanny from Flickr Creative Commons
June 18th, 2014 | 6:00am

Photo by bwaydanny from Flickr Creative Commons


the stars are dust on gray carpet
unvacuumed
and a man with a newspaper beret
makes a wish on a rat

 

this city
will one day be ruled by fish
silent as the tombstone of myths

reviewed by Rebecca Chace
June 16th, 2014 | 6:00am

Reading Blake Bailey’s memoir of his deranged brother, The Splendid Things We Planned, I kept thinking of a line from the epigraph Bailey quotes from Joe Gould’s Secret, Joseph Mitchell’s portrait of another troubled soul: “You can hate a person with all your heart and soul and still long for that person.” Bailey is the author of acclaimed literary biographies of John Cheever, Richard Yates, and Charles Jackson, all of whom wrote about the desperation behind mid-century American prosperity. This memoir shows that Bailey knows that terrain from personal experience. He opens with a heart-stopping scene of his young parents standing on the roof of a building at New York University in the early 1960s, holding their colicky, howling infant and trying to decide whether to jump together or toss the baby.

June 13th, 2014 | 6:00am

A trailblazer among American women at the turn of the century, Edith Wharton set out in the newly invented “motor-car” to explore the cities and countryside of France. As the Whartons embark on three separate journeys through the country in 1906 and 1907, accompanied first by Edith’s brother, Harry Jones, and then by Henry James, Edith is enamored by the freedom that this new form of transport has given her. With a keen eye for architecture and art, and the engrossing style that would later earn her a Pulitzer Prize in fiction, Wharton writes about places that she previously “yearned for from the windows of the train.”

Matthew Gavin Frank
June 12th, 2014 | 8:00am

Your name:  Matthew Gavin Frank

Current city or town: Marquette, MI.

How long have you lived here? 4 years

Three words to describe the climate: Monochromatically gorgeous sometimes.

Best time of year to visit? July for warmth, October-May for snow.

June 11th, 2014 | 6:00am

 

Because I had a roomy exit-row seat on a full plane to Berlin, I sent a photo of my gloriously unbent legs to my wife. A petty triumph, the frequent-flyer’s tame version of sexting. My seatmate was a small, physically non-intrusive man, but troublingly prone to coughs and sneezes.

The day after, in November drizzle, I walked from my hotel past the street where my great-uncle used to live. I never saw his home, but was intimate with its address from legal briefs and bank statements. Continuing to the historic KaDeWe department store, I paused before its tinsel-garroted window mannequins. I felt a familiar temporal shiver, a generational shift into events I longed to understand but had not lived in the first place. Jean Améry wrote “no one can become what he cannot find in his memories.”