Emily Dickinson is known as a poet of interiority. With her signature pauses and unconventional syntax, she deftly navigates the biggest questions within the smallest moments. Reckoning with extreme psychic suffering, her poetic speakers repeatedly confront the boundary between unknowable interior experience and intelligible linguistic testimony. Dickinson guides readers into that boundary-space and contemplates how it might crack open, how we might bear witness to each other’s pain.
But why bother with this trouble of bearing witness? How can it even be possible to “witness” that which is inherently invisible? In working with these questions, one of Dickinson’s most striking recurring images is that of crucifixion. None of her poems are categorically devotional in the traditional sense of the term, but instead, the Christian salvation narrative serves her poetic project in unconventional ways, both framing and illuminating her explorations of interiority and suffering.
Most Stephen King fans know his work exists in two worlds. First, there’s the page, where images of psychotic, otherworldly clowns, reanimated pet corpses, the ghosts of murdered young girls and haunted cars are injected into our imagination. Then there’s the screen, where we actually see them.
These worlds are not always kindly to each other. While many consider Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of the writer’s beloved “The Shining” to be one of the greatest horror films ever made, King himself famously despises it, calling it “a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it.” To say it’s possible to adapt his work in a manner that satisfies everyone would be an exercise in absurdity. But what is it exactly that makes him so difficult to translate, and why do so many people try?
Craig, however, did seem like a new person as he prepared to step away from the franchise. He was keen to celebrate his work as Bond and even keener to look forward to whatever is coming next. “I’m really…I’m okay,” he told me. “I don’t think I would have been if I’d done the last film and that had been it. But this, I’m like…” He dusted his hands. “Let’s go. Let’s get on with it. I’m fine.”
It was a different story with the rest of the Bond family. Craig’s films in the role have already grossed more than $3 billion. He also changed the part in dramatic terms. In Craig’s hands, Bond aged, fell in love, and wept for the first time. He lost the smirk and gained a hinterland. During the same period, Britain—which Bond, in some way, always represents—has experienced extraordinary turmoil and self-doubt, #MeToo has happened, and it’s very unclear who the good guys are anymore. It’s just possible that Craig smashed Bond in more ways than one. The films can never go back to what they were. When I asked Broccoli how she was going to cope without Craig, it was her turn to flounder. “Honestly, I don’t know,” she replied. “I can’t…I don’t want to think about it.”
“Lolita” for the #MeToo era. That’s how “My Dark Vanessa,” by Kate Elizabeth Russell, has been described.
It’s a clever sound bite, but when you peel back the veneer from what at first appears to be a titillating account of forbidden romance between Vanessa Wye, a whip-smart 15-year-old boarding school student, and Jacob Strane, her Harvard-educated English Lit teacher and paramour, you’ll soon find yourself caught in that shadowy realm between good and evil, right and wrong, pedophile and hapless fool who falls prey to a younger woman.
And that’s exactly where Russell wants you to dwell.
Here’s a novelty: a book about love as utter abandonment of the self, love as capitulation, love as not only obsession but possession, which manages not to be overwrought. It’s a deft trick. French debut novelist Pauline Delabroy-Allard uses simple language, repetition and short sections to build up a picture of an intense love affair between two women, severed suddenly by illness.
“Separation Anxiety” is a long-awaited comeback for this clever writer who hasn’t published a novel since “Piece of Work” in 2006. A series of personal tragedies, including the deaths of her parents and her own cancer diagnosis, swept Zigman into what she calls “so many dormant years.” But now, she’s transmuted those struggles into a new book — a “second chance” — about a once-successful author whose world is collapsing under the weight of disappointment and fear.
In this lyrical yet finely argued book, Johnson sets out to show that being alone — so different from loneliness, its direct opposite, in fact — is absolutely essential to the creative life. Taking a dozen or so historical examples, from Emily Dickinson in Amherst to Bill Cunningham in New York via Paul Cézanne in Provence, Johnson reveals how artists have always removed themselves from the noise and clutter of enforced sociability in order to live closer to the sources of their inspiration. Dickinson turned down an offer of marriage late in life, while Cunningham, the society photographer, insisted on living on as little money as possible so that his employers, which included The New York Times, “can’t tell you what to do.” Cézanne, though technically married, saw his wife and child only on Sundays, which left the rest of the week free for obsessively painting Mont Sainte-Victoire in all weathers and lights.
An idle lingerer on the wayside’s road,
He gathers up his work and yawns away;
A little longer, ere the tiresome load
Shall be reduced to ashes or to clay.