Failure Comes in Many Forms

The roadtrip: a time-honored tradition.

The roadtrip: a time-honored tradition.

This past weekend, I had a plan to drive from Minneapolis to Chicago because my college roommate Alison, who now lives in Hawaii, was going to be in the city. I hadn’t seen her for a year and a half, and hadn’t even been able to go to her wedding because I’d been in Washington state. Now we were just six and a half hours away from each other. I planned to drive down Friday after work and come back late Sunday morning. I’ve driven across the country by myself. My routine drives from home to college took fifteen hours. This was nothing.

Yet everyone I mentioned this to said, “You’re driving by yourself?” as if it was not only unheard of, but downright dangerous. “Yeah,” I’d respond, with a shrug. “I like long drives.” Even my boss, after letting me leave work early, said, “You better be careful out there! Have you checked the weather?” Of course I’d checked the weather: clear skies in Chicago. This wasn’t my first rodeo. I had a printed set of directions and a working GPS. I was looking forward to watching the hills and fields of the Midwest stream by me while I sang along to the mix CDs I’d made for the occasion.

As I merged into the 3:30 rush-hour traffic, I was already rehearsing how I’d tell my friend about how uptight everyone had seemed about my roadtrip. I was both bemused and frustrated by the reactions. When I’d lived in Spokane, people had a tendency to say things like “That store is all the way out in the Valley,” which in reality meant it was a twenty-minute drive, at most. Maybe this was a similar problem: not driving a route often enough to see how manageable it actually was. I looked forward to telling them all what a great time I’d had come Monday.

After nearly two hours of driving through fog, blowing snow, and quickly deepening dark, I pulled off the highway in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and checked into a hotel. I was unbearably embarrassed. I had not checked the weather in Wisconsin, even though approximately 70% of my trip involved driving through the state. I thought about waiting to see if the snow would let up, but I still had five hours to go, and I’d spent the last thirty minutes gripping the steering wheel in semi-terror, unable to see the road signs, just trying to stay in the tracks the car ahead of me was cutting through the thin snow.

Still, I told everyone, including Alison, that I would leave early and see them on Saturday. I am a person who holds loyalty and friendship in high regard and goddamnit, if she was in Chicago, I was going to see her. This was the girl who lived with me for four years of college, proofread all my French assignments, and once ran and jumped into my arms just because I was curious if I’d be able to catch her. If I didn’t make it to Chicago, I didn’t know when we’d be able to see each other next.

Like I said.

By the time I checked the weather at 6:00 the next morning, it was clear I would not be making it to Chicago at all.

Read more »

The Writing Life: Can You Do It All?

In September, I started working as a publishing assistant at an independent publishing house. Shortly after I started, I was getting drinks with one of my co-workers, and I asked if he was a writer. It’s clear that everyone I work with loves books, but people don’t generally talk about their own writing, so I was curious. He replied that he used to write more often, mostly nonfiction, but said, “at some point, I think you have to choose between being an editor and being a writer.” This took me by surprise, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

My immediate reaction was “Bullshit!” but the more I thought about it, the more I wondered whether his statement might be more true than I’d like to believe. He went on to explain that when working on the substantive editing of a manuscript, he’s deeply immersed in the author’s writing, and it becomes difficult to extract himself and to write without drifting into the style and voice of the writer whose words he’s focused on.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I...

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I…

Part of my suspicion of his assertion stems from the fact that I think it’s important that writers learn how to steal from each other. Not plagiarize, obviously, but I find it useful to get out of my own head sometimes and re-remember the weird and new things you can do to language as a writer. I’ll turn to John Berryman or Carl Phillips—poets who write poems much different than my own—when I’m having trouble writing something new. And sometimes, if I’m really stuck, I write imitation poems or I choose the line of a poem I can’t get out of head and use it as the title or first line for one of my own pieces. Of course, this can create its own set of problems. I’ve rolled my eyes at many poems that lean too heavily and too obviously on James Wright’s “A Blessing” or Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo” but another way to look at stealing is to see it as a form of learning. And I think it’s important to steal language anywhere you can—dictionary definitions, street signs, eavesdropped conversations, etc. If you’re a good writer, the language you borrow will be transformed from an imitation to something wholly your own.

On the other hand, my co-worker’s point comes from a place of experience. When I think about it, I have not been in the position he’s in as an editor, elbow-deep in someone else’s words for months at a time. There may not be enough brain-space to do both. My job at the publishing house is mainly on the production side of things, coordinating with our freelance designers and copy-editors, and making sure all of the books go to the printers on time. I do become involved with each book, but I’m not working with an author to shape or clean up a manuscript. I read the finished work, and though that of course can affect me, my job doesn’t force me to get into the writer’s head or to think about the work in the way that a developmental editor does. My past experience as Poetry Editor of Willow Springs also didn’t involve heavy editing. Though I occasionally worked with poets for small rewrites or revisions, the pieces we accepted were more or less in a finished state.

Not to mention that while working on Willow Springs, my main job was to be an MFA student, which is to say that my main job was to write and learn how to improve my own craft. I suppose when your main job becomes that of an editor, it risks feeling selfish to focus on your own writing, particularly if it distracts you from the job you’re being paid to do. So perhaps my defensive reaction to the idea that one can’t be both an editor and a writer comes from the fear that I will someday have to choose a path when what I really want is to be both. Read more »

What’s My Age Again?

I have always looked young for my age. It will probably be years before I stop getting carded at bars and liquor stores. People do that annoying thing where they tell me, “When you’re older though, it will be so nice to look younger than you are.” (To which I would like to reply, “If you’re suggesting that being seen as a MILF one day will be less awkward, I think you’re wrong.”) Lately it seems like it happens more and more often. I tell people I just moved to Minnesota and they say, “Oh, are you here for school?” I can’t exactly blame them—I know I look like I could still be in college, but I can’t help the ways my eyes narrow and my fists clench in response.

But what’s more frustrating than looking younger than I am is feeling younger than I am. A few weeks ago, I walked into my younger sister’s college dorm room (she’s a freshman), and when her roommate commented on how alike my sister and I look and asked how old I was, I was so flustered that I told her I was twenty-three, and then immediately corrected myself and said, “No—twenty-four, I’m twenty-four, I’m twenty-four! TWENTY-FOUR!” in a way that definitely made it sound like I was lying.

How old am I? Never too old for birthday cake, that's for sure.

How old am I? Never too old for birthday cake, that’s for sure.

Sometimes I forget how old I am because it’s difficult to reconcile the idea of what I think being an adult should feel like with the way I feel every day—which is, largely, overwhelmed, confused, and generally incapable of making any important decisions. I went straight to an MFA program after completing my undergraduate degree, which means this is my first year in the “real world,” despite having lived on my own the last two years. I’ve moved to a new state and found a fantastic full-time job. It even has health insurance. But sometimes I look around and think, I’m not a real person—who the fuck hired me? Two weeks ago I had to fill out budget projection documents at work, but I just learned what “insurance premium” actually means last month. We don’t have a business casual dress code at work, but if we did, every morning would be a weirdly hilarious experience of playing dress-up. Look at me wearing a blazer. A blazer! (For a few weeks, I told myself that maybe if I wore lipstick I would look like an adult, but I couldn’t even take myself seriously in it, so I changed my mind.)

Last winter, I chopped off eleven inches of my hair and donated it. I have never been a fan of haircuts and I hadn’t had my hair above my shoulders since fifth grade. The one thing I kept repeating to the hairdresser was, “Just don’t make me look like a little kid.” It’s hard to take myself seriously when other people seem not to. (Although, for the record, most people said my new bob made me look “very mature.” Unfortunately, bobs are really in, so even those damn college freshmen are running around with them.)

Maybe it’s one of those gag-inducing things like You have to love yourself first before others can love you. But, when will I feel like an adult? (And anyway, how will embracing my inner grown-up convince others to do the same?) Will it be when I buy a house, get married, have kids? (Ideally, those things are years away.) When I finally understand the stock market? When I have a book published?

I wonder if this is a problem unique to twenty-somethings, who often seem to be a kind of perpetual “lost generation,” or if this extends even into middle age. Will there be a moment or event that causes me to realize, “Hey, I’m an adult!” or will it happen quietly in the background, like falling in love or becoming a hoarder, so I won’t notice until it’s too late?

I’m new to this real world thing. So tell me, dear readers: do you feel like an adult? And what in the world does that even mean?

An Open Letter to the City I Have Recently Left

sign

Dear Spokane,

This may not be easy for you to hear, but I need to come clean about something. I was never planning to stay. No matter how lovely the autumn leaves you offered to me on the streets of Browne’s Addition, or how comforting the rushing waters of your dirty, unmistakable river in spring, you couldn’t have changed my mind. I’m Irish, and stubborn, and if we’re being honest, my heart the last two years has been somewhere else.

You know how when you’re young, you can say things like, I want to be a princess when I grow up, or an astronaut or a millionaire or an ice cream truck driver, and later, you sometimes still wish you could be those things but you are too old and proud to admit it? That’s how I felt, all the time I lived with you. I couldn’t tell you I was aching for the Midwest, even as I settled into your open arms in spring, even when I love-hated your dreary, freezing winters. The Midwest, too, has dreary, freezing winters. The Midwest held no promise of a job or a place to live or any sort of financial security. I couldn’t tell you why I loved the trains there more than your trains or why I’d rather look at cornfields than your distant mountains. Love is rarely logical, but what kind of excuse would that have been?

I spent two years with you. Two years is not inconsequential, but it took me four to love the Midwest, and when that love came, it overwhelmed me. It burrowed in deep. When people here ask about you, I will say things like, “There’s a certain charm” and “The city really grows on you” and “It’s different from any place I’ve lived” and it’s all true. Part of what makes you stand out is the other people I associate with my time there, but it was also, largely, your presence. Place affects me deeply as a person, and always has, and I wasn’t just existing loosely the last two years, but living, with you at my back and in the air around me, even when I didn’t realize it. Even when I thought I hated it there. Even the places we hate will change us.

Perhaps it will give you pleasure to know that I do miss you. Recently, flipping through photographs I took of you, I began to feel—can I call it homesick? Read more »

Echoes (Listen)

Mississippi evolutionThe Mississippi River begins at Lake Itasca, in northern Minnesota.

A dear professor once wrote to me: “I think of your work as these lasting but fleeting things full of lasting but fleeting little things: someone gone, someone turning the corner, a memory dissolving, trees and road and sky all disappearing, all present…”

That was before I’d ever written about Amelia Earhart.

In 1832, Henry Schoolcraft journeyed to find the source of the mighty Mississippi. The story goes that the name Itasca was cobbled together from the Latin words for “truth” and “head”—veritas and caput, respectively.

But I have always been interested in things that disappear.

I took Latin for seven years, through middle school and high school.

On July 2, 1937, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Itasca, named for the lake in Minnesota, was anchored off of Howland Island, Amelia Earhart’s next stop on her final, round-the-world flight.

After I saw the movie Titanic in third grade, I read everything I could get my hands on about the ship and its sinking.

In the same letter, my professor also told me, “Your cadence, your sense of syntactical accumulation relies on repetition, that way in which things appear, disappear, come back, stay with us.”

Marie Curie won the Nobel Prize for the second time in 1911, in part for her discovery of the element radium, from the Latin word radius, meaning ray.

Itasca’s radio communications with Earhart were poor from the start. Her last intelligible transmission was WE ARE RUNNING NORTH AND SOUTH.

The waters at Lake Itasca are slow-moving and narrow. Tourists visit there every year to walk across the Mississippi River.

Judy Garland was born on June 10, 1922 in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, part of Itasca County.

I wrote about the boots on the ocean floor that outlasted Titanic’s passengers.

Beginning in the Renaissance, artists began to experiment with more accurate perspective by painting the distant horizon a shade of blue. Leonardo da Vinci dubbed this “aerial perspective.” It’s all a matter of wavelength. The Encyclopedia Britannica: “the colours of all distant dark objects tend toward blue.”

Marie Curie disappeared, half-life by half-life, without even knowing it was happening.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, a city on the Mississippi River.

Earhart transmission, 7:42 am: KHAQQ CALLING ITASCA WE MUST BE ON YOU BUT CANNOT SEE YOU BUT GAS IS RUNNING LOW BEEN UNABLE REACH YOU BY RADIO WE ARE FLYING AT ALTITUDE 1000 FEET

All that water. All that sky.

Because Howland Island is so small, the Itasca was supposed to generate a “smoke screen,” a thick cloud of black smoke, to help Earhart locate the runway and land safely. According to documents, “Itasca was laying down smoke screen stretching for ten miles.”

Radium glows a soft blue. Marie Curie kept a jar by her bedside.

Judy Garland disappeared into pills and depression.

I wrote about Pompeii’s buried residents, now just plaster molds. About Hiroshima’s bodies, irreversible shadows.

Zelda Fitzgerald disappeared into the fire that consumed the mental hospital where she spent most of the last 12 years of her life.

The same professor who wrote about my preoccupation with the vanished drove the length of the Mississippi River, 2,350 miles, writing poems along the way.

Scott Fitzgerald disappeared into his gin, his ambition, his obsession with fame.

The course Amelia set from Lae to Howland Island was 2,556 miles.

Transmission, 7:58 am: KHAQQ CALLING ITASCA WE ARE CIRCLING BUT CANNOT HEAR YOU

To reach the place where I would first write about Amelia, I drove across the country, a distance of 2,540 miles.

Listen.

Amelia herself disappeared, somewhere in the vicinity of Howland Island, somewhere above the Itasca, though no one can be exactly sure where.

In a month, I will move to Minneapolis, a city four hours south of the Mississippi’s source, to start the next leg of my journey.

Who can say what it means.

Kanye’s New Album on Fatherhood Shows Growth, Lively Imagination

No word yet on the sex of the Kanyashian baby, or if Kim plans to dress it in outfits as ugly as this. Stay tuned.

No word yet on the sex of the Kanyashian baby, or if Kim plans to dress it in outfits as ugly as this one.
Photo credit: Denise Truscello/WireImage.com

Powered by the momentum of two recent, critically acclaimed albums, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and Watch the Throne, his collaborative album with Jay-Z, the notorious Kanye West has not rested, and is set to release his latest compilation any day now. If you follow those in the know (read: me) on Twitter, you’ll already have been introduced to some of the leaked lyrics, many of which focus on his impending fatherhood. (In case you’ve been living under a rock, ’Ye and Kim Kardashian are expecting a baby in July.)

Rumors that the new album is titled Her Beautiful Dark Twisted Fetus are unconfirmed, and insiders say it’s more likely that West will go with the title No Work for a Child, a take-off of his infectious hit single (with Jay-Z) “No Church in the Wild.” Indeed, the first lyrics we received were from the new title track, which opens the album with these ambiguous lines: “Lil’ babies with their moms / What’s a mom to a kid? / What’s a kid to applaud? / What’s applause to a non-performer, who don’t perform for anyone? / Will he make it out alive? Alright, alright, no work for a child.”

The structure of these lyrics will sound familiar to any fan of “No Church in the Wild,” and the new song certainly relies heavily on its predecessor, with a few notable exceptions. Soft bongos have replaced the throbbing drums that were the signature of the original, and the opening lines, performed by Frank Ocean on the original track, are, curiously, performed by famed children’s singer Raffi.  What West is actually getting at in these opening lines is up for grabs, though it may suggest a certain pressure on his newborn child to perform, only to remind himself (alright, alright) that children can’t be put under the same expectations as megastar rap-gods like himself.

The maturity of these opening lines is almost as impressive as what comes next. Read more »

What Am I Doing?

Questions

Trying to keep my head above water. Writing poems about trains, Amelia Earhart, and all the old loves. Trying not to think about the future. Thinking obsessively about the future. Drinking too much coffee, sleeping in too late, not running. Staring out windows (most often, at trains). Writing notes on my hand. Buying another bookshelf for the books I don’t have time to read. Eating too much chocolate. Wondering how it is, still, that I don’t know what I’d be happiest doing. Wondering if I’ve wasted my time. If I’ve improved, if I know what I’m doing. Pouring expired milk down the drain. As if I have some kind of plan. Making lists: clean the bathroom, pay the bills, organize my papers, submit to magazines.  The same list for weeks. Not writing letters I’d promised I would write. Not calling people I’d promised I would call. Not writing poems I’ve been meaning to write: letters to Amelia, poem about throwing bottles into the river, poem about the robin’s eggs I broke open when I was young.

Trying my hand at nonfiction, trying to get out of my own way. Trying to forget that I have a body. Letting the words come easy. Taking my camera with me when I drive, thinking about the mountains. Their shape, their distance. The clouds as seen from an airplane. Trying to map the land however I can. Wondering where my feet rest most firmly. Sitting in my car on Cliff Drive, above the lights of this place, on and on in front of me, wishing for once I was a smoker. That easy motion, that distraction, that taste in the mouth. Missing cities, New York and Paris, knowing I couldn’t have lived there. Planning how I could do it. Dreaming of wading through pools, of people I hardly know and their detailed faces. Reading enough words to fill me. Pulling on my warmest coat to walk in the desperate days of winter. Heat on high, water on for tea, candle for atmosphere.

Today? Not enough. Or yesterday. Or any day, lately. Waking up as an ostrich, head hidden from sun. Telling everyone, “It’s going fine.” Puppeting the days. Organizing the pages of poems in my head. Re-arranging, disordering, erasing. Wishing to be granted a day of disappearance. To a porch surrounded by mountains, a cold day. Or the rippling skirt of a lake. The black sand of a foreign beach in Majorca or any land with a name just as musical. Dancing my fingers along the table as though it is a violin again. Listening to those sounds with twitching muscles.

Reading the old favorites, trying not to feel inadequate. The best lines kept as glowing talismans in my hand.  —You is from hunger, Mr. Bones.  Asking, what else comes from hunger? As if the earth under our feet / were / an excrement of some sky. And how the imagination can save us.  If we know how to let it. If we can bring ourselves to the right place. Read more »

Real Reality TV

The Kardashians: a modern day Brady Bunch?

I understand the gross side of reality TV. I watched a lot of Jersey Shore when it came out, and I made everyone on my dorm floor watch it as well. I’ve also watched a hefty amount of Laguna Beach, and because I am loyal to its faux-real characters, I also watched its spinoff The Hills and its spinoff The City. I would largely categorize these shows as guilty pleasures. But I can’t say the same about Keeping Up With the Kardashians, because I don’t feel guilty about it. Not one little bit. The fact that Kim Kardashian is dating Kanye West—is, in fact, pregnant with their baby—only makes me more excited that some form of a Kardashian show is still airing, since Kanye West could firmly be classified as one of my musical non-guilty pleasures and since the two of them together thrills me to no end. (Though can we please call it the Kanyashian baby instead of the Kimye baby? It’s so much catchier and doesn’t sound like a Japanese superhero.)

There’s been a lot of talk about the culture of reality TV that has sprung up in America. We’re all voyeurs. We want to feel better by mocking those stupider or fatter or more gullible than us. We want to watch those prettier or richer or smarter than us falter under pressure. We want to memorialize everything and then feel nostalgic about it instantly, even other people’s weddings and other people’s proposals and other people’s dreams coming true. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t seem like the reality TV trend is going to fade any time soon. And although I mocked my college roommate for her Sunday night Kardashian-watching tradition, and though I joined in fully expecting to mock my way through the viewing, I actually whole-heartedly love the show. Yes, it’s ridiculous. Yes, the clothes and heels and make-up they wear cost more than I will ever make in my lifetime. But at the end of the day, the Kardashians represent, for me, a kind of ideal family.

That may seem strange to say since the current Kardashian clan is a so-called “blended family,” with half-siblings from both Bruce Jenner’s and Kris Kardashian Jenner’s previous marriage(s), but the family is so tight-knit and has so much outrageous fun together that the episodes can almost give off the vibe of the Brady Bunch (if the Bradys had had dark hair and a lot more Botox). And I know the situations on the episodes are probably constructed to seem spontaneous and carefree, but I don’t care. Television is about a suspension of disbelief—especially reality television, where we are supposed to believe the people and situations and dialogue are the realest of real—and I believe the Kardashians completely. Read more »

A Kangaroo and a German Shepherd Walk Into an Ice Cream Parlor…

Not a phantom kangaroo.

[Note: This post, which originally appeared on Tuesday, January 15, has been edited per the request of my employer. Names have been omitted and information has been clarified, in case anyone reading this blog was under the impression that Bark is an accredited news source on the subjects of ice cream and ice cream stores.]

Oh, were you waiting for me to finish the joke? Sorry, there isn’t actually a joke. (Though I did find this bizarre mention of kangaroos and German shepherds in a Wikipedia article titled “Phantom kangaroo.”) No, instead what I have for you is the story of a magical encounter, one that’s weird even by Spokane standards.

First, a little background. I work at a chain ice cream store, which shall remain vague and unnamed for the sake of protecting the feelings of the ice cream and other frigid entities. I started working at [the ice cream store that shall not be named] in high school, worked there on breaks through most of college until both of the stores near me closed, and then found myself back there this past summer when I was in need of a job. As far as jobs go, it’s really not so bad. (In fact, I quit a two week stint at the Safeway deli in favor of this job because I was convinced I was going to chop my finger off in the meat slicer.) It’s not especially labor-intensive, though at least five customers a night will lean over the glass partition and deliver some version of the line, “Wow, you must get really strong arms working here.” It’s not any more unsanitary than other jobs in the food service industry, it’s not intellectually demanding, and it seems to be a curious trend across this particular unnamed ice cream store franchise that the bosses visit as little as possible, leaving us kids to run the store on our own—a fact, lest I be misunderstood, which I really appreciate. You rarely find that kind of trust at other corporate establishments, where you can get the feeling they’re looking over your shoulder in a creepy, Big Brother–esque manner. And wouldn’t that be a drag? Plus—free ice cream!

Still, I know people my age who work salaried jobs at places where they aren’t required to wear an apron. Who wants to be in graduate school clear across the country and still working their high school job on weekends? (This is definitely the part I left out at my five-year reunion this past fall.) But to be honest, I enjoy my job too much to be embarrassed by it, even though I kind of feel like I should be. Sure, there were the three days this summer the air conditioning broke, the ice creams were melting in their pans, and our bosses saw no reason to close the store—and why should they when summer is the time the store makes bank, and really what’s 91° inside a store in July anyway?—and sure, sometimes college students think it’s funny to tip us, then cross their arms and stare—as though we’re going to burst into song or start twisting balloon animals or something ridiculous like that (can you imagine??), but it’s the strange and unexpectedly human moments that really make up for it. (And I know how many calories are in that shake you just ordered, you fratty doucher waiting to drop a dollar in the tip jar.)

So, because New Year’s Eve happened recently enough to not be totally unrelated, I’m going to count down my Top 5 [Ice Cream Store That Shall Not Be Named] Moments of All Time. Eat your heart out. Read more »

Used Bookstore Magic

It’s a week into the new year. So far, I have read one book. I found it in a used bookstore while I was home in Pennsylvania for the holidays. I only found the used bookstore because I’d just met a friend for coffee and was walking up the street to a camera store when the sign caught my eye. I bought three other books in the same store, one of which I mailed to a friend as a spur-of-the-moment Christmas gift. It cost five times as much to ship the book as it did to buy it.

Probably the greatest used bookstore in the history of ever. (Shakespeare & Company, Paris)
Oh, and is that a Fitzgerald poster I spy in the background? Hm!

I found a book by Jess Walter (Over Tumbled Graves, set in Spokane) and wondered what people there, in Pennsylvania, imagined when they read a novel set in Spokane. And I realized that if it had been two years earlier, I wouldn’t have picked up the novel at all, having no connection to Jess Walter, and even if I had, I’d have no idea how to imagine Spokane either.

I also found a book called The Fall of a Sparrow, written by Robert Hellenga, a professor from my undergrad. When I marveled about how strange this was to my friend, he said, “Yeah, weird quality of his books—they’re all over used bookstores.”

I bought a copy of E.B. White’s collected letters, because I had recently checked out a book of his essays from the library, because I had read an excerpt of a particular essay (“Here is New York”) that my friend, who I knew through a study-abroad program in Paris, had posted on her blog, and when I read the essay in its entirety, I could not get over how strange it was to find the lines “New York is nothing like Paris; it is nothing like London; and it is not Spokane multiplied by sixty, or Detroit multiplied by four” because there I was, reading the essay on my couch in Spokane, having just tried to write in my own way about New York, which is how I had come to the book in the first place.

After I had picked out a few books to buy, I realized the shop continued on the other side of the old house it occupied. Over there, I found the poetry room, where I browsed each shelf and left with e.e. cummings’s 95 poems. I bought it partly because we had just read him in class this fall and I was interested in reading more of his work, but even before that, I’d been searching bookstores for months for a collection of his that included the poem “[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]” which this collection had, and which I love for no particular reason other than that it makes me want to cry every time I read it, and for no particular reason, though not unrelated, it reminds me of Illinois, though I can’t remember where I first came across it.

The book I was most excited about finding there, the first book I’ve read this year, is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last (and unfinished) novel The Last Tycoon. Read more »

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