Culture & Criticism Since 2003
This new Bukowski just released by City Lights is a real treat, featuring a collection of previously unpublished stories, columns, critical reviews and interviews. From the onset, it reads like typical Bukowski – bawdy and broad, dissecting the world in which we live with piercing insight. Aside from being able to tell a story in various colors with rich human tones, Bukowski’s other great attribute was his ability to find the simplest way to make a point. Rather than over-write, he under-wrote, looking to describe the echo of the bells in the sweet under-currents of breath. In turn, The Mathematics of the Breath and the Way tells us how and why he did it, telling us just what it’s like to live in a writer’s skin. As such, we’re afforded a rare chance to get intimate with Charles Bukowski on a whole new level.
The Trump Presidency has piqued the nation’s curiosity in Russia, in what makes the country and its leaders tick. In turn, novelist Keith Gessen (founding editor of n+1 magazine) has created one of the brightest pieces of fiction for 2018 – telling the story of his native country in layers. In A Terrible Country, we meet Andrei, an academic from New York who must return to Moscow to care for his grandmother. But his return home isn’t at all cinematic, as Andrei becomes just another lost mask trying to make his way through the corruption of Putin’s reign and the specter of old Soviet Russia. Gessen has captured a lot of us here, as the collective reader is forced to analyze his own unrest and what to do about it. Evocative and stirring, A Terrible Country will make you look at the fury surrounding the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election with a whole new set of eyes.
This is a true nothing to everything tale documenting the rise of Irish immigrant John Mackay. Mackay came to the West penniless and toiled in obscurity for years before taking hold of the Comstock Lode – a vein of gold and silver so vast that it changed the country. Readers will find Crouch’s work both detailed and evocative – the ultimate reportage of a time that’s largely been forgotten by so many younger Americans.