Tag Archives: louis zukofsky

On A

Over at the Poetry Foundation’s website, Justin Taylor has a very interesting article on A by Louis Zukofsky, certainly one of the biggest, most imposing poems you could ever ask to read.

Neither Zukofsky nor “A” has any real claim on the public imagination. Even among poets he doesn’t seem to be much read, discussed, or taught, except by a handful of deeply entrenched partisans. I started to investigate whether—and why—this might be the case, but then I realized that I was squandering a huge opportunity. The question of whether Zukofsky is truly neglected (and of whether said neglect has been just) is far less interesting than the simple fact that one can approach Zukofsky with a readerly freshness—an innocence, if you will—that is perilously hard to come by for such art without equal. This is in starkest contrast to Pound’s Cantos, which has never fully emerged from its author’s divisive personal reputation (and probably never will). “A” is perhaps the last major work of American Modernism to feel like uncharted territory.

“A” is a book-length poem divided into 24 sections, one for each hour in the day. Begun in 1927 and completed in 1974, “A” is self-consciously the major work of its author’s life, but it also seeks to present that life in something like real time.

Popular Amazon Purchases, January – April 2011

As I do every so often on this site, time to run down popular purchases made on Amazon by readers of Conversational Reading. (For previous reader faves, see here.)

Here we go, in order to sales rank:

Life A User’s Manual by Georges Perec

No surprises that, by far, the most popular item purchased in the past few months has been the subject of the current Big Read. Thanks to everyone who is participating!

A Naked Singularity by Sergio De La Pava

Self-published phenom A Naked Singularity continues to be a popular book with readers of this site. And with The Quarterly Conversation previewing an excerpt from his new book, Personae, perhaps we’ll have another favorite.

The Pale King by David Foster Wallace

Wallace fans are die-hards. Despite my reservations about this book, readers of this site are still snapping up Wallace’s final offering.

Zone by Mathias Enard

My endorsement of this massive, challenging French novel (and my interview with its translator) seems to have spurred some readers of this site. Good for them!

The Ice Trilogy by Vladimir Sorokin

This is one of the books I’ve featured on my Interesting New Books in 2011 page. Plus Sorokin is a pretty big deal, and this is probably his biggest and best book.

The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco

Chalk up another one to a combination of a big author and a listing on the Interesting Books page. But how ugly is this cover?

“A” by Louis Zukofsky

This one pretty clearly goes back to this post I did about “the Ulysses of poetry.”

The Preparation of the Novel by Roland Barthes

I would attribute this to my interview with the book’s translator, and this blog’s great following among Barthesians everywhere.

Otherwise Known as the Human Condition by Geoff Dyer

Some recent discussion of this book plus a listing on the Interesting New Books page probably did the trick.

For previous reader faves, see here.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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