A wonderful, eclectic collection of summer reviews this past week on Cleaver’s Reviews page! Check them out on the site, or sample these excerpts:
Set your GPS to Charles Bernstein‘s new book of poetry, Recalculating. Poetry Review Editor Mary Weston writes, “…Recalculating, depicts a poet pulled in a number of different directions and impulses. As readers, we too at times feel this pull toward the many evocations and articulations present in Recalculating. Yet in many ways, direction—or lack thereof—becomes the thematic anchor which ultimately binds Bernstein’s latest work. Poems in this collection move deftly and swiftly from heady articulations of Bernstein’s poetics, to oftentimes humorous experiments in language and syntax, to poignant translations of works from Catullus to Baudelaire. Yet throughout the collection, the theme of “recalculation” takes on a more sobering nature, as interspersed between Bernstein’s didacticism and humor, grief and loss also begin to take shape in the work, each time creating a quiet swerve and evolution in the work’s “direction.” It’s this versatility and variety throughout the collection which makes Recalculating such a compelling read, as quiet sorrow becomes inextricably linked with both the playful and the cerebral, and which nuances the work as a whole….read full review
Film criticism, anyone? Of Martha P. Nochimson’s new book David Lynch Swerves: Uncertainty Through Lost Highway to Inland Empire, reviewer Chris Ludovici says, “…a radical interpretation of David Lynch’s last four movies. She rejects the popular critical interpretations of his work, in favor of her own theory: a complicated mix of eastern philosophy and quantum physics. It’s fascinating, challenging, frustrating, and only intermittently persuasive. Her ideas are compelling, especially when she’s addressing Lynch’s philosophy. As a devoted believer in Hinduism and tantric meditation, Lynch creates movies with strong spiritual components. They are intense stories, and his characters are often emotionally troubled. Nochimson clearly and thoughtfully explains Lynch’s repeating themes of the dangers of life lived in the service of greed and ambition, and his commitment to spiritual peace over material satisfaction.But it’s her more radical, scientific ideas that are troublesome. Quantum physics isn’t exactly simple, and frankly, I don’t have enough knowledge on that subject to understand anything beyond her most superficial points. But here’s the part that’s tricky: the book is unclear as to whether or not Lynch does, either…read full review
Or, how about a cartoonist-turned-film critic? In his essay on So Long, Silver Screen, reviewer Gabriel Chazan, writes of the French graphic narrative artist, Blutch, “Every film is a ghost story. When we go to the theater, we see flickering images of things in the eternal past yet present which persistently haunt us. This observation cannot be avoided reading the French cartoonist Blutch’s new graphic essay/novelSo Long, Silver Screen. With this book, Blutch summons the ghosts from his own filmgoing past to consider the film form. Death pervades the book from the very first panel in which a woman writes, “Adieu Paul Newman.” When the woman tells her lover Newman is dead, he reacts in disbelief: “it can’t be—I think about him every day” as if, by being captured onscreen, stars are immortal. Blutch has decided to try his hand at film criticism. The book is largely comprised of discussions and arguments between a man and woman about film. We get all of the enduring debates—theater or film, how are women treated in film, and many more…read full review
Sometimes a book review is a work of art in itself. Fiction Review Editor Nathaniel Popkin writes lyrically of Rabee Jaber’s new novel, The Mehlis Report, “At night, I dream the city; I dream Baldwin’s—and Capote’s—alluring New York at mid-century; I dream Pamuk’s melancholic Istanbul of the same period; I dream Antunes’s desperate 1990s Lisbon and Nasr’s suffocating Tunis and Bolaño’s heretical 1970s Mexico City; I dream Zadie Smith’s London and Mercé Rodoreda’s Barcelona; I dream my own Philadelphia, which sometimes isn’t Philadelphia at all (it may be Brooklyn or Montreal). Now, I dream Rabee Jaber’s early 21st century Beirut; I dream the enduring disquiet, I dream the hidden springs, I dream the memories (of terraces filled with mulberry trees, of abandoned villas), the loss, the fear, the cranes that rattle the sky….read full review
More reviews coming your way soon!