Welcome to Issue # 21 of Plume.
And welcome home – if you made it there and back: the weather – from AWP. As I write, to those of you whose flights were not cancelled or otherwise persevered, I trust all went well and that you visited Plume’s table. Other matters prevented me from attending, but, I hear, next year, in Seattle? That will be fine, if true. And to those who stayed home: other thoughts: see below.
But to business, as always, quickly:
Please see, in our Editor’s Note this issue, my remarks on matters present and promised, including an introduction to the first of our occasional “featured” writers selection, by Sarah Arvio. As previewed last issue, this “13th” slot focuses on the presentation of selections from new, unpublished work: already a number of our favorite writers have enlisted. For more details on Ms. Arvio’s work, and a bit of background on our striking cover art, a remark on the consolations of absence, and gratitude expressed for Plume readings, see, too, that Editor’s Note.
Now, then — at last — one of our new features: a little reading list from David Cudar, a friend of Plume and the best-read person I know – one who makes me cower in shame when I hear of this or that I really must read but haven’t. And yet, he has been in some part responsible for the widening scope of my reading over the last years, a purpose I hope his notes will serve for you. Some you may nod to in mutual appreciation and some dismiss without pity: such is the nature of the thing. Below, his first installment: titles you may have read or never heard of, with a few words by way of annotation:
1. Middle C: William H Gass: 9780307701633: Amazon.com: Books
Middle C by William Gass (not to be released until 3.25.2013).
A new book by William Gass is always a cause for celebration. Nearly two decades since his previous novel The Tunnel, Middle C plumbs the identity of self. A writer so powerfully confident his meditations enlarge our lives.
2. Arcadia: A Play: Tom Stoppard: 9780571169344: Amazon.com: Books
Arcadia by Tom Stoppard.
A short, brilliant play by a past master, exploring the nature of truth, time, and attraction. Stoppard simply keeps getting better. If only age were so kind to all of us.
3. The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov: A Novel: Paul Russell: 9781573447195: Amazon.com: Books
The Unreal Life of Sergey Nabokov: A Novel by Paul Russell.
After Lolita, America was convinced that Vladimir Nabokov had a “dirty little secret.” They had no idea how right they were — nor how wrong. Paul Russell’s novel reveals the puzzle Nabokov wanted no one to uncover.
4. Amazon.com: Exodus (9781612191829): Lars Iyer: Books
Exodus by Lars Iyer
Imagine Beckett’s Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable retold by Monty Python and you might have an idea of this last book in Iyer’s trilogy. Brilliant and hysterically funny.
5. The Absolutist: John Boyne: 9781590515525: Amazon.com: Books
The Absolutist by John Boyne.
Writing with compelling compassion and commitment, Boyne has gotten ahead of us by circling behind. A slim novel that eclipses the world only to remind us suddenly of our tiny place within it as we read the final words.
6. Amazon.com: The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard (Library of America) (9781598531497): Joe Brainard, Ron Padgett, Paul Auster: Books
The Collected Writing of Joe Brainard.
There are some writers who simply defy description; often this is a terrible thing. In rare cases, as here, it is a pearl of great price.
7. A Reader on Reading: Alberto Manguel: 9780300159820: Amazon.com: Books
A Reader on Reading by Alberto Manguel
Alberto Manguel has entered the ranks of such polymaths as Burgess, Steiner, and Davenport. There does not seem to be a subject he cannot write about with effortless grace, but the history and art of reading is a topic he always captures ecstatically.
8. Cruel Optimism: Lauren Berlant: 9780822351115: Amazon.com: Books
Cruel Optimism by Lauren Berlant.
An important book by an important writer – and although this one does not dazzle in the way many of Zizek’s books do, she has an uncanny talent for unpacking complex ideas and offering truly original positions about cultural logic.
9. Amazon.com: The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems (9780393337341): Marie Howe: Books
The Kingdom of Ordinary Times by Marie Howe.
Poetry as it should be: open, honest, illumined — a celebration of the many moments we fail to notice.
10. Winter Journal: Paul Auster: 9780805095531: Amazon.com: Books
Winter Journal by Paul Auster.
There is a mystique about Auster that only completely appears when he struggles to be transparent. The search for the center of his elusive self continues.
For this issue’s roster of poets and new work received — again – that Editor’s Note.
Many thanks, as always – and I do hope you enjoy the issue!