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Kelly Link’s White Cat, Black Dog

Link’s new collection contains stories that demand rereading with so many layers of meaning they move from brain into blood and bone and back again in a cyclical process.

Soraya Palmer’s The Human Origins of Beatrice Porter, and Other Essential Ghosts

Zora’s struggle for selfhood, adulthood, while never glossing things over, finds an unlikely means of escape, or at least temporary release. The stories her parents tell—fables out of their own, very different upbringings—can, for instance, provide a daffy distraction at the grocery register when Dad’s card is declined, and more than help to open and exercise a young mind.

Istvan Kantor’s Hero in Art: The Vanished Traces of Richard Hambleton

Choosing the doorways of shooting galleries and the shells of abandoned tenements as his canvas, Hambleton labored in the dead of night, slapping paint up quickly in the shifting glow of homeless trash fires, to create what Istvan Kantor, in his new “bio-novel,” Hero in Art: The Vanished Traces of Richard Hambleton, describes as “. . . an elaborate, permanently transmuting labyrinth.”

In Conversation

John Cotter with Kathleen Rooney

In advance of Losing Music’s April 2023 publication by Milkweed Editions, John and I talked by email about Anna Deavere Smith’s plays, Jonathan Swift’s skull, the destructiveness and discouragements of capitalism, and how—no matter the condition of the body that contains them—all souls weigh the same.

Suzaan Boettger’s Inside the Spiral

Suzaan Boettger’s long awaited Inside the Spiral: The Passions of Robert Smithson constitutes an epitome of probing inquiry into a major artist’s “life and work,” as many old biographies said.

Ann Lauterbach’s Door

To those who ask what her poems are about, Lauterbach answers, “the poems find their subjects as they are made.

Harry Smith: American Magus

I first came to this book with the intention of simply lifting everything that I found to be authentically Smithian. I realize now that would be as impossible as separating Smith’s interests from each other, as if I could lift the occult instances from the film work, or his collections, etc. Indeed, there seems to me a definitive magical quality in all his doings, even the most scholarly. His awareness of the larger significance of images and patterns and their historical appearance (and ahistorical entitlements), creates significance in the least of his actions.


The Brooklyn Rail

APRIL 2023

All Issues