Brad Leithauser is a novelist, poet, and essayist. He lives in Massachusetts.


The Thrill of Unfamiliar Voices

Roelandt Savery: Paradise, 1626

Twigs and Knucklebones

by Sarah Lindsay

A Most Marvelous Piece of Luck

by Greg Williamson
A good first book of poetry introduces a name and establishes a claim. A second, if successful, reassures us that the first was no fluke. But what about a third book? This is a question raised by two splendid new third collections, Sarah Lindsay’s Twigs and Knucklebones and Greg Williamson’s …

On Moon River

Johnny Mercer with Louis Armstrong and Maxine Sullivan, each of whom made recordings of Mercer’s songs; illustrations from The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer

The Complete Lyrics of Johnny Mercer

edited by Robert Kimball, Barry Day, Miles Kreuger, and Eric Davis
Johnny Mercer, perhaps the finest of American popular song lyricists, searched endlessly for usable melodies, caroming from partner to partner throughout his frenetic professional life. He wrote with so many different composers—Hoagy Carmichael, Harold Arlen, Henry Mancini, Jimmy Van Heusen, Harry Warren, Richard Whiting—that he wound up essentially solitary. Mercer …

Voices in the Heartland

Lorrie Moore, Madison, Wisconsin, 1999; photograph by Chris Buck

A Gate at the Stairs

by Lorrie Moore
Lorrie Moore’s novels are remarkable for the number of linguistic detours they embark on. Off in the distance, a plot is likely hatching. But its unfolding will patiently have to wait until the characters—nearly all of whom have a penchant for wordplay—have explored the far-flung implications of the language that …

There Once Was an Artist Called Lear…

Edward Lear: Tepeleni, Albania, circa 1848–1849; from Edward Lear in Albania

Edward Lear in Albania: Journals of a Landscape Painter in the Balkans

by Edward Lear, edited by Bejtullah Destani and Robert Elsie, with a preface by Vivien Noakes

Edward Lear: The Life of a Wanderer

by Vivien Noakes
Nineteen children preceded him into a world that he could never quite take seriously but that hurt and tormented him all the same. The great writer of nonsense poetry Edward Lear, born in 1812, was the twentieth of twenty-one children. The Lear household was prosperous, despite its slew of dependents.

Old Globe

For her big birthday we gave her (nothing less would do) the world, which is to say a globe copyrighted the very year she was born—ninety years before. She held it tenderly, and it was clear both had come such a long way: the lovely, …

Glassed In

Straw for the Fire: From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke, 1943–63

edited by David Wagoner
Some modern American poets have published novels (Robert Penn Warren, James Dickey, James Merrill, Sylvia Plath). Others have worked hard on novels but never saw them published (Edna St. Vincent Millay, Amy Clampitt). And still others simply can’t be imagined as novelists. Theodore Roethke, who once declared, “I can become …

The Shadow Man

Collected Poems of Louis MacNeice

edited by Peter MacDonald

Louis MacNeice

by Jon Stallworthy
If you’re a poet fated to be eclipsed, doubtless you could do worse than to have W.H. Auden be the one who stands between you and the light. For one thing, Auden’s surpassing range, both of mode and subject matter, leaves a broad field for maneuvering. For another, his civility …