¤ Chris O’Leary is a writer, editor, and journalist based in western Massachusetts. Forster and McLennan were the band’s core, and a bit of an odd couple, as shown on the cover of Forster’s book: McLennan, wearing the expression of a wry cherub, stands over the lanky Forster, who looks like Conrad Veidt’s somnambulist in The Cabinet of Dr. They live perpetually in the what-could-have-been, kings of an alternate Earth’s hit parade. The Go-Betweens were blessed by a run of early breaks. You long to hear McLennan’s voice, to view the band, and Forster, through his eyes. Songwriting sessions now ended when McLennan needed toRead More →

Not because you don’t want to stop, but because you can’t. In the case of our teenage narrator in Mongrels, becoming one of them means becoming a werewolf, like his aunt, uncle, and grandfather. There’s things in there you can’t digest.” The werewolves of Mongrels will devour anything, but when they become human again, a soup can or chicken bone might puncture their bowels and kill them. We follow this unnamed narrator from the age of seven to the age of 17, and he’s constantly changing and maturing. Unlock Jones. In Mongrels, the narrator similarly reinvents the world (and his own role in it) byRead More →

That is such an interesting question. Whether it is think tanks or interest groups, law firms, Congress or agencies, Washington in the main attracts enormously talented and publicly spirited people. No one has made that mistake since. It may take years, 10 or 20 sometimes, to get a law passed you care about. That means — if you are a good journalist — that it is hard to get at some of the internalities of stories, the motivations behind actions, and particularly the larger truth about people, institutions, about politics in general. This book didn’t have as much of Rena’s partner, Randi Brooks, an interestingRead More →

Just how had Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah molded her Soweto-born? They shrugged it off: “These things happen sometimes.” His violence worsened over time, and Noah reveals how police failed to protect her from an incident more tragic: years after they divorced, Noah’s stepfather shot his mother in the head while she was returning home with family from church. Trevor, listen. Just as Noah is nodding off, his mother pushes him out of the minibus, then jumps out with the baby: “What was that?! “For my mother. Police dismissed her complaints, often blaming her for provoking him. But Noah was hardly one to give it — andRead More →

LARB Radio Hour: Vanessa Davis’ “Spaniel Rage” By LARB AV –  February 17, 2017 Vanessa Davis talks with co-hosts Medaya Ocher and Kate Wolf about her autobiographical comics; in particular her collection “Spaniel Rage,” which is being re-issued. Lastly, Tom and Laurie listen to, and adore, a couple of poems by Emily Dickinson. Then Martabel Wasserman drops by to recommend Sarah Schulman’s classic novel of New York City at the height of the AIDS crisis, “People in Trouble”; which features a Donald Trump inspired antagonist. Davis discusses the evolution of a new literary art form; along with the establishment of women in the comics world.Read More →

Mr. The Czech writer Karel Čapek had been one of those voices crying out in protest. K.,” shows Bondy’s newts carried from port to port, in stinking tubs of putrid water, slick with opalescent streaks of gasoline and covered in food and excrement. But those good people are precisely the problem, because they never make time to oppose the destructive drift of history. (1920). H. points out that people said the same thing about African peoples during slavery. Čapek’s wife said that he was “a champion of the everyday,” and his apocalypse takes shape from the debris of daily life. Each step is a chanceRead More →

On the eve of a trip to New York, Zweig is to be feted by a provincial mayor. In the background, we hear faint sounds of warbling birds. It would be like we were kind of “the audience” to it. No, they were taking the risk. Salzburg is not far and they have the big Stefan Zweig Centre there, and I invited the director of the Centre to read the script. And this affected how you structured the rest of the film? I could say, “I’m not doing this film, I’m choosing one of these political formations and putting all I can into that…” ButRead More →

What story might help me? FEBRUARY 17, 2017 IN AN UNTITLED STORY late in Peter Orner’s Last Car over the Sagamore Bridge, a man reflects as a wrecking ball strikes his furniture store. “Stories fail if you only read them once. Our fullest memories, the ones that endure, are of the result of fragmented, arbitrary, even false experience. represent a tradition that Orner now carries on in his own quiet stories. The last boy watches the fighters as they continue down the darkened street, heading into the black section of town. Their immediacy shapes them. It was sudden and no one had been prepared forRead More →

That space might have existed in the country’s English-language poetry once, but it was quickly swallowed by the corporate energy of utilitarianism — the knowledge-building factory and a subservience to otherness. I haven’t encountered such joyous and playful writing about walking or eating — “The grown-ups snapped the chillies (each made a sound terse as a satirical retort)” — as I have in Chaudhuri’s books, for instance. London as village, a village as London. There was no seven, only seven pebbles or counters,” wrote D. Chaudhuri, an Indian poet, novelist, essayist, critic, musician, and professor, was born in Calcutta, India, in 1962. The other categoryRead More →

My only decision, once they had shown up, was whether to include them in the book. And the world of childhood, of course — that lovely, lost, luminous world that we long for all our lives and never get back to, which might be everybody’s unexorcisable subject and theme. In “Oriole” you write, “How many continents / has this lone oriole / crossed to come balance / on our sagging clothesline, / and what urgent thing / is he trying to tell us?” These lines testify to the speaker’s wish to communicate with the natural world, perhaps balancing his awe with a sense of limitation.Read More →

For a majority of Americans, this is a past, a nightmare of history, from which we are trying to awake. How is our collective insanity different from the age-old tendency of human beings to do crazy things when they get together in groups, parties, and nations? Abraham Lincoln had more faith in the United States. But in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule. Grounded in fictions of the “will of the people,” democracy has always struggled to build in safeguards against collective psychoses, which lead a popular majority to do something destructive to the body politic itself. And this is nowhere toRead More →

He used to say to me, ‘If you come late, Ahmad, I’ll do to you what we did to the Armenians.’ And it wasn’t just once he said it, but every day. He’s impatient for class to end so that we can go to lunch. I made a crutch out of a fallen tree limb, but this time I cried out to the warrior, ‘What do you want in order to open the door for me?’ And he cried back, ‘I want your eyes, so that I can find my way through the world.’ “And when I looked at him, I saw that he hadRead More →

There is an interesting phenomenological point at stake here. Millenarian sects like the Millerites and communal movements like the Shakers and the Oneida Community found fertile soil in the burned-over district, as did such social movements as feminism, which achieved its first organized expression in the Seneca Falls Convention of July 1848. The desire to speak with the dead, which motivated so much of spiritualism, finds moving expression in one of the final scenes of Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain. By the time Kate Fox arrived in London in 1871, there were hundreds of mediums performing similar séances, most famously Daniel Dunglas Home, a ScotRead More →

Few works, I think, are a better response to anti-Mexican sentiments from a Mexican perspective. I think that the best way to describe her language is through the term “neobaroque.” The book more properly belongs to a tradition of writing about marginalized subjects in Spanish-language fiction that appeals to baroque mixtures of learned and vernacular prose in order to account for the subjectivity of subalternized subjects. The novel captures the enormous violence of the migrant experience (Liborio is consistently beaten and his body is routinely subject to physical violence inflicted by the police, by boxers, and by others); the perils of racialization (American characters frequentlyRead More →

The abysmal human rights record of Turkey, made worse after the recent failed coup, suggests that it is doubtful that the new immigrants Europe has sent back from Greece to Turkey will receive a warm welcome. Current attempts to avoid the kind of refugee crisis that the Allies ultimately helped create — when it divided the Middle East into a chain of weak client states after World War I — mirror those of the past. This population included mainly Armenian, Greek, and Assyrian communities that had lived in the Middle East for thousands of years. It is the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of many of thoseRead More →

Vital Little Plans gathers an excellent range of Jacobs’s thinking for both new readers and those who haven’t picked her up since being assigned The Death and Life of Great American Cities in college. Her little-known first book, written at 25, was Constitutional Chaff, an analytical catalog of line-by-line alternate proposals made for the US Constitution in 1787. The book she was working on when she died, at the age of 90, was tentatively, if confidently, titled A Short Biography of the Human Race. Though she is known as an urbanist, cities were, in many ways, merely a framework that enabled Jacobs to pursue herRead More →

These letters to   the Los Angeles Times that sought to justify Japanese Internment are a perfect example: that was a horrible episode in our country’s history, and because so few people know about it, opportunists are trying to rewrite it in order to justify the illegal registration of American citizens who happen to be Muslims. He used the occasion to ream the president. He spent a large part of the Martial Law era as a political prisoner, and much of that in solitary confinement. San Juan Jr., who is a pretty orthodox Marxist, shook his head and said, “I know him. In 2000, IRead More →

Then I was driven to write fiction, paying for it as a construction worker for almost two decades, the father of two sons. I can see how someone with degrees in philosophy and religious studies would ultimately choose writing as a career. Dagoberto tells me he still cannot use the “S” word to describe his brain injury. I mean, if choice were involved, better to have chosen law or architecture or geology. He has won the Whiting award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the PEN/Hemingway Award, among others. Ironically, Dagoberto Gilb’s vision of those struggles has intensified after an injury to his brain. There have beenRead More →

Then local artist, publisher, and activist Martabel Wasserman joins Kate and Medaya to discuss how art and literature are a powerful and essential component of resistance against oppression – needed now more than ever. Also, Karina Longworth drops by to give a book recommendation: “Slow Days, Fast Company” by Eve Babitz. LARB Radio Hour: Iranian Poet Moshen Emadi / Angels Gate Curator Martabel Wasserman By  –  February 13, 2017 Co-hosts Kate Wolf and Medaya Ocher speak with Iranian Poet in exile Moshen Emadi, who lives in Mexico but is touring America on the occasion of the publication of the first English language collection of hisRead More →

War jolts from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, like an earthquake, and many of the characters he encounters use a litany of pronouns — “they,” “them,” “everyone” — to dole out responsibility. Both the light in the bay and the distant red light stopped signaling each other. The man, who was small at first but started getting bigger, walked on as though there were no train bearing down on him. A pastor at one point tells Adrià, “They say we are at war, that brothers are killing brothers, but here the God of grass and trees, sky and fog, water and rock continuesRead More →