Review: Somewhere Near Defiance by Jeff Gundy

By Daniel Shank Cruz

somewhereneardefianceIn Somewhere Near Defiance, his sixth full-length collection of poems, Jeff Gundy is at the top of his game. The book revisits Gundy’s usual catalog of subjects — small-town life in the Midwest, nature, Mennonites, being on the road, and so on — but these themes remain fresh under his deft touch. Like two of his poetic influences, William Blake and Walt Whitman (who each appear in several poems), Gundy is a poet of the people in that his poems examine everyday life in a way that elevates it to the sublime. One of the book’s early poems, “Having It All Four Ways,” is written as a catechism, inspiring the desire to read it reverently, as one would whisper a prayer during morning devotions, but focuses on the holiness of fleshly being: “[s]weat, chocolate, lust, and fire” (23). The parallel emphasis on the earthly and the divine is present throughout this collection as an argument that the two are much more closely related than is often assumed. Read More

Review: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

By Diego Báez

The_goldfinch_by_donna_tartDonna Tartt has turned out a single novel every decade, starting with her bestselling debut, The Secret History (1992), a semi-autobiographical “murder mystery in reverse” about students at a small private school in Vermont. The Little Friend (2002) followed and fixes its focus on the suspenseful, Mississippi-based story of 12-year-old Hattie’s extended family and Southern life at large. The Goldfinch (2013) follows thirteen-year-old Theo Decker, who loses his mother when an explosion destroys an entire wing of an art museum in New York City. Theo’s estranged father reappears and absconds with the boy, removing him to the desert wastes of Las Vegas. Over the course of his drawn-out adventure, Theo finds himself inextricably linked to the novel’s eponymous masterpiece and its role in the underground art market. Read More

Katy Masuga reads Biking at Night

Katy Masuga writes fiction and nonfiction, blurring the lines of distinction. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington, Seattle, and a Joint-PhD in Literary Theory and Criticism. Her publications include two monographs on Henry Miller, a handful of semi-autobiographical stories on memory, family, and serendipity, and a dozen critical essays ranging in content from Beckett, Wittgenstein, and Blanchot to the history of Shakespeare and Company in Paris to the vegetarian diet of Frankenstein’s Creature. Her influences include Sebald, Woolf, and Borges. She teaches comparative literature at Skidmore College in Paris, with a focus on modernism, particularly the intersections between literature, film and the visual arts.