Have Words–Will Write 'Em

On Books, Writers, Most Things Written, Including My Light Verse.

Archive for May 4th, 2021

Rachel Cusk’s “Second Place”

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M dwells on her strained relationship with L throughout the story.

There is no particular reason, on the surface, why L’s work should summon a woman like me, or perhaps any woman—but least of all, surely, a young mother on the brink of rebellion whose impossible yearnings, moreover, are crystallised in reverse by the aura of absolute freedom his paintings emanate, a freedom elementally and unrepentingly male down to the last brushstroke.

M even says that “‘second place’ pretty much summed up how I felt about myself and my life.”

You can read my review of Rachel Cusk’s Second Place in The Brooklyn Rail by clicking the image below.

You can buy Rachel Cusk’s Second Place at Barnes & Noble.

Written by Joe Peschel

May 4th, 2021 at 9:24 pm

Caleb Azumah Nelson’s “Open Water”

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And although the protagonist (and presumably Nelson) is a fan of the writer Zadie Smith and her novel, NW set in north-west London, it is James Baldwin who is the character’s and the author’s greatest inspiration. He even calls Baldwin Jimmy when he quotes from Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son: “I want to be an honest man and a good writer.” It’s a sentence that Nelson and his character repeat twice. Real-life similarities between author and character are sometimes frowned upon as artistic weakness, but the connection here, whether feeling or fact, is valid and powerful.

You can read my review of Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Open Water in The Brooklyn Rail by clicking the image below.

You can buy Caleb Azumah Nelson’s Open Water at Barnes & Noble.

Written by Joe Peschel

May 4th, 2021 at 9:15 pm