PRB

In The Desert of After Proust

In Reviews on September 9, 2014 at 9:30 am

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A review of Anne Carson’s The Albertine Workout

by Rebecca Ariel Porte

 

[T]heory is good but it doesn’t prevent things from existing.

 

                        –“Marcel Proust,” “letter” “to” “Heraklitos”

                       

                                    –Anne Carson, The Albertine Workout (36)

 

                                                –Sigmund Freud, “Charcot” in The Freud Reader (50)

 

–Jean-Martin Charcot, in conversation

 

i. Theory and Things

“La théorie, c’est bon, mais ça n’empêche pas d’exister.”

“Theory is good but it doesn’t prevent things from existing.”

Or else: Things are good but they don’t prevent theory from existing.

A facile inversion—but necessary—we’ll return to it soon.

Flower Chamber

In Poetry on September 9, 2014 at 9:02 am

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by Emily Skillings

Empty and half awake
I met my exchange cousin for the first time,
found her services to be almost reliable,
rode the Minnesota bride to the very top of feeling.

I came, waited and contemplated almost nothing,
was forced to leave after nobody showed up
to the mouth-to-mouth party.
It was almost an hour ago to the second.

It’s like those circulated myths about imperceptibly small
yet incredibly dense objects sinking through
an entire apartment complex, five or eight
consecutive living room floors,
to hover in the basement’s single bulb.

I’m coming to a curve in this logic.
The line flows itself into a chamber shape
only to swerve, douse my walking project
in ground stimulants, and dissolve.

I walked past the middle class nausea
of patchy, poorly-seeded lawns
walked into the depressed shopping mall
where each item gets its own store, price tag
and uniformed guardian, past the woman
who was hurled forever into public,
who dies each day in the same footprints.

I walked and imagined a dock into permission.

I walked up to a building
that advertised a Flower Chamber
of insurmountable beauty on its glass façade.
I looked between my feet and saw a cobblestone
and on that cobblestone was a small gold placard
and on that small gold placard was an engraving,
which hinted at the address of the building.

It read:
Here, Right Here
Nowhere Else
This Building
Apartment Building Building
Building Avenue
Bulding Area, New Building
Building—Building—Building—Building—Building

*

Emily Skillings is a dancer and a poet. She is the author of two forthcoming chapbooks:Backchannel (Poor Claudia) and Linnaeus: The 26 Sexual Practices of Plants (No, Dear). Skillings dances for The Commons Choir (Daria Faïn and Robert Kocik) and presents her own choreography in New York. She lives in Brooklyn, where she is a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative, a feminist poetry collective and event series. She recently co-curated the exhibit “John Ashbery Collects: Poet Among Things” with Adam Fitzgerald at Loretta Howard Gallery. This fall she will begin her graduate studies at Columbia University.

Photo: empty crosswalk by Daniel Gonzalez Fuster | 2009

The Way We Were

In Essays on September 9, 2014 at 9:01 am

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On Penguin’s John O’Hara Reissues

by Grove Koger

Let’s say you’re a good writer, maybe even a great one. You desperately want the praise and the prizes you know you deserve, but at the same time you feel an irresistible urge to alienate everyonecritics, lit professors, editors, even fellow writers you might run into at the corner bar—who might be in a position to help. If that’s you, then you could do worse than emulate John O’Hara.

Born into an Irish Catholic family in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, in 1905, O’Hara grew up with a thirst for alcohol and—in a small town whose social elite were WASPs—a big chip on his shoulder. It was a bad combination, and earned O’Hara an equally bad reputation wherever he went. During his New York City years, for instance, waiters at the Stork Club routinely seated him near the door so that they could throw him out more easily when he started a fight. He was widely known as “the master of the fancied slight,” as Robert Benchley and his daughter-in-law had occasion to learn. They once called O’Hara over to their table at another of the city’s clubs, 21, to tell him how much they’d enjoyed Pal Joey, a Rodgers and Hart musical based on a series of his stories. It seems that they had seen it before, but when the daughter-in-law remarked that she had liked it even better this time, O’Hara responded, “What was the matter with it the first time?”

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