Literary Criticism
The Hatred of Poetry
The Hatred of Poetry
Paperback      ISBN: 0865478201

No art has been denounced as often as poetry. It's even bemoaned by poets: "I, too, dislike it," wrote Marianne Moore. "Many more people agree they hate poetry," Ben Lerner writes, "than can agree what poetry is. I, too, dislike it and have largely organized my life around it and do not experience that as a contradiction because poetry and the hatred of poetry are inextricable in ways it is my purpose to explore."

In this inventive and lucid essay, Lerner takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point of his defense of the art. He examines poetry's greatest haters (beginning with Plato's famous claim that an ideal city had no place for poets, who would only corrupt and mislead the young) and both its greatest and worst practitioners, providing inspired close readings of Keats, Dickinson, McGonagall, Whitman, and others. Throughout, he attempts to explain the noble failure at the heart of every truly great and truly horrible poem: the impulse to launch the experience of an individual into a timeless communal existence. In The Hatred of Poetry, Lerner has crafted an entertaining, personal, and entirely original examination of a vocation no less essential for being impossible.

Six Memos for the Next Millennium
Six Memos for the Next Millennium
Paperback      ISBN: 0544146670

"One of the most rigorously presented and beautifully illustrated critical testaments in all of literature."--Boston Globe

"A brilliant, original approach to literature, a key to Calvino's own work and a thoroughly delightful and illuminating commentary on some of the world's greatest writing."--San Francisco Chronicle

At the time of his death, Italo Calvino was at work on six lectures setting forth the qualities in writing he most valued, and which he believed would define literature in the century to come. Here, in Six Memos for the Next Millennium, are the five lectures he completed, forming not only a stirring defense of literature, but also an indispensable guide to the writings of Calvino himself. He devotes one "memo" each to the concepts of lightness, quickness, exactitude, visibility, and multiplicity, drawing examples from his vast knowledge of myth, folklore, and works both ancient and modern. Readers will be astonished by the prescience of these lectures, which have only gained in relevance as Calvino's "next millennium" has dawned.

Studio a: The Bob Dylan Reader
Studio a
The Bob Dylan Reader
Paperback      ISBN: 0393327426

Hailed by Publishers Weekly as "not only the best writing on the ever-changing folk singer, but also some of the best writing about any musician around," Studio A presents Bob Dylan's unique literary legacy in a collection that is quintessentially Dylan: mosaic, offbeat, poetic. This "astutely chosen and intelligently annotated" collection (Time Out London) gathers over fifty articles, poems, essays, speeches, literary criticisms, and interviews; many previously unpublished. Individually, these pieces offer insight into the man and his time, but collectively they reveal the coming-of-age of American cultural criticism in their "sweeping view of both Dylan and the changing times he so eloquently captured in his music" (Publishers Weekly). With Sam Shepard, Bruce Springsteen, Allen Ginsberg, Johnny Cash, Greil Marcus, Joyce Carol Oates, Gary Giddins, Rick Moody, Tom Piazza, Barry Hannah, and Dylan himself on the list of contributors, Studio A is truly "a vital document" (New York Times) for all fans.

Peter Watts Is an Angry Sentient Tumor: Revenge Fantasies and Essays
Peter Watts Is an Angry Sentient Tumor
Revenge Fantasies and Essays
Paperback      ISBN: 1616963190
"A brilliant bastard." --Cory Doctorow
"Comfort, of course, is the last thing that Watts wants to give." --New York Review of Science Fiction

Which of the following is true?
  • Peter Watts is banned from the U.S.
  • Watts almost died from flesh-eating bacteria.
  • A schizophrenic man living in Watts's backyard almost set his house on fire.
  • Watts was raised by Baptists who really sucked at giving presents.
  • Peter Watts said to read this book. Or else.

    "Watts, undoubtedly, is a genius." ―Medium

    In more than fifty unpredictable essays and revenge fantasies, Peter Watts -- Hugo Award-winning author, former marine biologist, and angry sentient tumor -- is the savage dystopian optimist whom you can't look away from. Even when you probably should.
  • Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World's Best Poems
    Break, Blow, Burn
    Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World's Best Poems
    Paperback      ISBN: 0375725393

    America's most provocative intellectual brings her blazing powers of analysis to the most famous poems of the Western tradition--and unearths some previously obscure verses worthy of a place in our canon. Combining close reading with a panoramic breadth of learning, Camille Paglia sharpens our understanding of poems we thought we knew, from Shakespeare to Dickinson to Plath, and makes a case for including in the canon works by Paul Blackburn, Wanda Coleman, Chuck Wachtel, Rochelle Kraut--and even Joni Mitchell. Daring, riveting, and beautifully written, Break, Blow, Burn is a modern classic that excites even seasoned poetry lovers--and continues to create generations of new ones.

    The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society
    The Liberal Imagination
    Essays on Literature and Society
    Paperback      ISBN: 1590172833
    The Liberal Imagination is one of the most admired and influential works of criticism of the last century, a work that is not only a masterpiece of literary criticism but an important statement about politics and society. Published in 1950, one of the chillier moments of the Cold War, Trilling's essays examine the promise --and limits--of liberalism, challenging the complacency of a na ve liberal belief in rationality, progress, and the panaceas of economics and other social sciences, and asserting in their stead the irreducible complexity of human motivation and the tragic inevitability of tragedy. Only the imagination, Trilling argues, can give us access and insight into these realms and only the imagination can ground a reflective and considered, rather than programmatic and dogmatic, liberalism.

    Writing with acute intelligence about classics like Huckleberry Finn and the novels of Henry James and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but also on such varied matters as the Kinsey Report and money in the American imagination, Trilling presents a model of the critic as both part of and apart from his society, a defender of the reflective life that, in our ever more rationalized world, seems ever more necessary--and ever more remote.
    Reading the Plays of Wendy Wasserstein
    Reading the Plays of Wendy Wasserstein
    Paperback      ISBN: 1557837252

    "When I think of my plays as a body of work, I always hope that they reflect how a group of people live at a certain time." - Wendy Wasserstein Playwright Wendy Wasserstein is, above all, a social historian. Balancing drama and comedy to write about social class in Manhattan and about Jewish-American identity, she drew inspiration from Chekhov and the comedies of S. Behrman, Moss Hart, and Noel Coward. The ideas of Betty Friedan, Germaine Greer, Gloria Steinem, and Susan Faludi also inform Wasserstein's work, which chronicles the rise and the eventual collapse of both feminism and liberalism between the late 1960s and the earliest years of the 21st century. From the first waves of feminism to the post-feminist generation, Jan Balakian's essays place Wendy Wasserstein's seven major plays, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles, in a historical context, showing a connection between the evolution of the women's movement in America and the conflicts within her plays. Balakian's interviews with the playwright before her death in 2006, and conversations with Wasserstein's close friends, playwright Chris Durang and director Dan Sullivan, all lend further insight into Wasserstein's political concerns. Balakian's access to handwritten pages from Wasserstein's notebooks at the Wasserstein archives at Mount Holyoke also provides readers a window into the playwright's creative process. Features 50 black-and-white illustrations, including handwritten pages from Wendy Wasserstein's notebooks

    John Knowles' a Separate Peace: Bookmarked
    John Knowles' a Separate Peace
    Paperback      ISBN: 1632460106

    The Bookmarked series focuses on a famous work of literature that left a powerful impression on an author (hence the name, Bookmarked--a book that left its mark). Each entry in the series will be a no-holds-barred personal narrative detailing how a particular novel influenced an author on their journey to becoming a writer, as well as the myriad directions where that journey has taken them.

    In the first book in the series, critically acclaimed author and series editor Kirby Gann takes on John Knowles' classic about the tragic friendship between two boys at a boarding school.

    Kirby Gann is the author of the novels Ghosting, Our Napoleon in Rags and The Barbarian Parade. He is the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship and two Professional Assistance Awards from the Kentucky Arts Council. Gann is managing editor at Sarabande Books, and teaches in the brief-residency MFA in writing program at Spalding University.

    The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men's Prison
    The Maximum Security Book Club
    Reading Literature in a Men's Prison
    Paperback      ISBN: 0062384341

    A riveting account of the two years literary scholar Mikita Brottman spent reading literature with criminals in a maximum-security men's prison outside Baltimore, and what she learned from them--Orange Is the New Black meets Reading Lolita in Tehran.

    On sabbatical from teaching literature to undergraduates, and wanting to educate a different kind of student, Mikita Brottman starts a book club with a group of convicts from the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. She assigns them ten dark, challenging classics--including Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Shakespeare's Macbeth, Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Poe's story "The Black Cat," and Nabokov's Lolita--books that don't flinch from evoking the isolation of the human struggle, the pain of conflict, and the cost of transgression. Although Brottman is already familiar with these works, the convicts open them up in completely new ways. Their discussions may "only" be about literature, but for the prisoners, everything is at stake.

    Gradually, the inmates open up about their lives and families, their disastrous choices, their guilt and loss. Brottman also discovers that life in prison, while monotonous, is never without incident. The book club members struggle with their assigned reading through solitary confinement; on lockdown; in between factory shifts; in the hospital; and in the middle of the chaos of blasting televisions, incessant chatter, and the constant banging of metal doors.

    Though The Maximum Security Book Club never loses sight of the moral issues raised in the selected reading, it refuses to back away from the unexpected insights offered by the company of these complex, difficult men. It is a compelling, thoughtful analysis of literature--and prison life--like nothing you've ever read before.

    The Codex Mojaodicus
    The Codex Mojaodicus
    Paperback      ISBN: 1944380000

    The Codex Mojaodicus collects three novels-in-verse --"My Sweet Conquistador," "Chaley Way," and "The Pocho Codex" -- all of which mine, mime, record and disgorge the impressions and dissertations of language as it is uttered, stuttered, and felt in a variety of tongues and heads. In these theatrical poems, Alvarez documents a multilingual field, tracing a Xicano genome over and above