Some things I’ve read and liked recently.
A Little Book on Form by Robert Hass — For my full thoughts on this book you can just read my review in the San Francisco Chronicle. Here I’ll say that this book is equally an education in poetic form and in Hass’s remarkably, idiosyncratic literary mind. This is a primer of sorts, but it’s also a book you can just read straight through, it’s that engaging, and interesting on every page.
The Fate Of A Gesture: Jackson Pollock And Postwar American Art by Carter Ratcliff — This is basically a bird’s-eye of the American art world in the wake of Pollock, as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and Minimalism, along with American art, took over the art world from Europe. It’s thorough, cover a lot of territory, and doesn’t sacrifice depth to do it.
Kingdom Cons by Yuri Herrera — I don’t want too say too much about this, as I’ve got a review on the way, but it’s good, as were Transmigration of Bodies and Signs Preceding the End of the World. More congrats to Lisa Dillman on the translation.
To the Wedding by John Berger — People recommend this book to me so much. It’s a strange, very tragic love story. A memorable read (only Berger could have written this), and reminded me very much of the things I like best about Michael Ondaatje—the imagination, the surprising turns, the fleetness, the energy, the tone.
Affections by Rodrigo Hasbún — this one won’t be out in the States till September; I received a copy of the UK edition from the author himself while in Houston earlier this year. It’s a short lyric, incredibly taut novel about a disgraced filmmaker who worked with Leni Riefenstahl, and then left his life behind by taking his family to Bolivia. Also it’s also not about that at all. It’s a strnge, compelling character study of this man’s two daughters, one of whom fought with Che’s army in Bolivia (Habsún is a Bolivian). But it is more about life, the choices we make, being a daughter, being a sister. A strange, very interesting novel—I liked it so much I’m in the middle of an interview with Hasbún. And an excellent translation by Sophie Hughes.