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William L. Morris


Books

NONFICTION The Bug House: The Poetry, Politics, and Madness of Ezra Pound By Daniel Swift Farrar Straus Giroux 297 pages, $27 This short work of critical nonfiction by Daniel Swift has more to say about Ezra Pound’s influence on Modernism than A. David Moody’s three-volume biography where every aspect of the poet’s life is given equal billing. “The Bug Ho…

NONFICTION Hell is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement Edited by Jean Casella, James Ridgeway and Sarah Shroud The New Press 226 pages, $17.95 Solitary confinement was the only thing they didn’t show me when I taught at Attica Correctional Facility. A no-nonsense sergeant told me how easy it would be to end up a prisoner if I didn’t play by …

Robert Lowell--Setting the River on Fire: A Study of Genius, Mania, and Character By Kay Redfield Jamison Knopf 532 pages, $29.95 By William L. Morris If you lived in the 1950s you must remember the movie “The Bad Seed” starring an adorable, pig-tailed Patty McCormack as a serial killer where madness is equated with murder and innocence hides evil. At the…

Books

BIOGRAPHY Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast By Megan Marshall Houghton Mifflin Harcour 368 pages, $30 Randall Jarrell, a poet better known for his criticism than his poetry, said this about Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry: She appears “to be doing what is statistically and aesthetically impossible — writing only great poems.” Bishop’s father died when…

FICTION The Ugly, a novel By Alexander Boldizar Brooklyn Arts Press 370 pages, $19.95 Like a boisterous Borges ignoring the delete key or an angry Celine forced to write in a language he hates, Alexander Boldizar plays with our minds by mixing fact with fiction in “The Ugly.” His hero, Muzhduk the Ugli the Fourth, shares elements of Boldizar’s life but goes …

NONFICTION Rasputin: Faith, Power, and the Twilight of the Romanovs By Douglas Smith Farrar, Straus and Giroux 787 pages, $35.00 This book gets rid of the many myths about Rasputin. Secondarily it explains Rasputin’s small but important role in the Russian Revolution. Douglas Smith retells each myth, not revealing at first that it is a myth, then he tells th…

When I was a callow youth, a trip to the Big Apple always seemed like a journey into the future. Things cost way too much. Traffic moved way too fast. I was missing out on the fabulous future. The train had left the station and I wasn’t on it. I saw things I’d never seen before and probably wouldn’t unless I went back. I didn’t go back, settling for dribs and drabs of it l…

Lifestyles

Dear Matthew Quick,This note is in response to your recent letters sent to me through my agent. You must understand as a movie actor I get a lot of fan mail and can’t read all of it. However, it was brought to my attention that you also have printed them collected as a book, so I felt I had to respond.First of all I must say that I loved the movie based on your other book,…

Lifestyles

This is two entirely different books carefully woven into one. One is a history of anxiety and the other is the personal story of the author’s lifelong struggle with it.Though he has managed to carve out a successful career as editor of The Atlantic, the author still worries he might end like his great-grandfather who was a successful Harvard professor until anxiety ended …

Lifestyles

This is a book about lying. It’s always been Doctorow’s M.O. to pretend. He pretends to write about history, but there’s about as much history in his books as there is in Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.”Twain is Andrew’s favorite writer.With this novel Doctorow adds science to his list of lies and not just any science but the most difficult one …

Archives

Anyone who says writing a poem is easy isn’t writing poetry. Sometimes, though, one just pops out of a poet’s head after a long struggle with another, longer one. That seems to have been the case with John Keats.There’s plenty of documentation about how he wrote his longer poems and this new biography by Nicholas Roe gives it to us with both barrels. Keats wrote great lett…

Archives

Here’s a bodice ripper that uncovers a suicide bomber. The bodice ripping doesn’t need much explanation. The suicide bomber does.She thinks that our best private Independent schools are forcing parents in elementary school to give their children drugs to improve behavior and enhance academic performance, not for medical reasons. They are forging school and medical document…

Here's a bodice ripper that uncovers a suicide bomber. The bodice ripping doesn't need much explanation. The suicide bomber does.She thinks that our best private Independent schools are forcing parents in elementary school to give their children drugs to improve behavior and enhance academic performance, not for medical reasons. They are forging school and medical document…

What happens in LA certainly doesn't stay in LA. It's on every checkout counter's magazine rack and on TV gossip shows. It's in the blogosphere too. Stephen Tobolowsky, the well-known character actor (Ned Ryerson in "Groundhog Day," Commissioner Hugo Jarry in "Deadwood," many episodes of "Heroes" as Bob Bishop, etc.) has his own, "The Tobolowsky Files," which is available …

It is commonly thought that the greatest British poet of the last century was a short-lived Welshman with the last name of Thomas. But his first name has slowly but surely morphed from Dylan to Edward.As admirable as Dylan Thomas' poetry is, it is a kind of wonderful dead end and has not produced a school of imitators – at least not a school of successful imitators.Edward …