Charles Simic has been Poet Laureate of the United States. His most recent books are The Lunatic, a volume of poetry, and The Life of Images, a book of his selected prose.
 (August 2016)

IN THE REVIEW

You Laugh Uncontrollably

Bohumil Hrabal at the Canadian embassy in Prague, summer 1990

Mr. Kafka and Other Tales from the Time of the Cult

by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from the Czech by Paul Wilson

Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age

by Bohumil Hrabal, translated from the Czech by Michael Henry Heim, with an introduction by Adam Thirlwell
Bohumil Hrabal’s complete works in Czech add up to nineteen volumes, of which at least twenty books have been translated into English, an achievement not many foreign fiction writers of the recent past can claim. I first heard his name when I saw Closely Watched Trains, a film based on …

Bernie & Hillary & the Future

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton at the Democratic presidential debate, Las Vegas, October 2015
This was, indeed, a very different presidential debate from the ones Republicans had in August and September. Sixteen candidates then used their allotted time trying to outdo each other in scaring Americans out of their pants by warning them about enemies everywhere, from illegal immigrants pouring across our borders, selling …

Description

It was like a teetering house of cards, A contortionist strumming a ukulele, A gorilla raging in someone’s attic, A car graveyard frantic to get back On the interstate highway in a tornado, Tolstoy’s beard in his mad old age, General Custer’s stuffed horse…

Swept Away

Melville had the sea and Poe his nightmares, To thrill them and haunt them, And you have the faces of strangers, Glimpsed once and never again. Like that woman whose eye you caught On a crowded street in New York Who spun …

NYR DAILY

The Meaning of New Hampshire

A primary voter in Manchester, New Hampshire, February 9, 2016

Seeing Trump signs in impoverished towns here that never fully recovered after the mills closed forty years ago makes one sad. These are clearly stunningly uninformed people, ignorant even of their own family histories.

Sticking to Our Guns

The coverage of our elections has a fairy tale feel to it. Our national press pretends that they are dealing with men and women of principle, offering carefully thought-out solutions to our nation’s problems, rather than groveling servants of billionaires who finance their campaigns; and that the voters these candidates try to persuade in the primaries are well-informed and well-meaning Americans and not people who by and large get their information from Fox TV and hate radio.

A Brutal American Epic

Olympian Cotton Mills, Columbia, South Carolina, 1905

Charles Reznikoff’s long poem Testimony: The United States (1885-1915): Recitative is a compilation of case summaries, a sequence of self-contained pieces. These “recitatives,” as he called them, tell the stories of some five hundred court cases from all over this country and deal with a broad segment of the American population, urban and rural.

Sundays at Slugs’

Donald Ayler, Albert Ayler, Lewis Worrell, Ronald Shannon Jackson, and Michel Sampson outside Slugs’, 1966

Milan Simich: After the gig Ornette Coleman gave me his address and invited me to visit. About a week later on a Sunday afternoon, I went to the West Village. I forget the street, he had a basement apartment. I hesitated, couldn’t ring the bell, and walked away. Thing is, I was nineteen, what was I going to talk to him about?

NYR CALENDAR