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Archives for January 2012

Growing up with writers

I finally took the time to do the important work of Googling this phrase I remembered hearing on NPR a few years ago:

Mr. YGLESIAS: Right. I mean, it is true that if you come from a family of writers, you understand that there is always an assassin in the family.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. YGLESIAS: I don’t really know any other way of doing the writing. So I didn’t feel I had any choice. And there were times when I considered just not publishing the book or not showing it to anyone. But I also knew that I felt that so acutely, that it was so dangerous, was also a sign that I was writing it correctly.

GROSS: Had your parents, in their novels, written characters that you knew were based on you that you found troubling?

Mr. YGLESIAS: Actually, even when someone writes you in a novel flatteringly, the truth is it’s always troubling because it’s odd to be a minor character in someone else’s life since we’re always the major character in our own lives.

GROSS: Oh that’s so interesting, the way you put it.

Mr. YGLESIAS: It’s always disturbing.

GROSS: So was that upsetting to see that in your parents’ work you were a minor character?

Mr. YGLESIAS: It was very strange, always disturbing. And I believe, although people will say otherwise, that it’s always disturbing to people to appear in someone’s book. It’s just – it offends the natural narcissism of every individual.

From a 2009 episode of “Fresh Air,” in which Terry Gross interviews Rafael Yglesias about his novel based on his marriageA Happy Marriage: A Novel.

In which the Pope cites a novel that takes place at a time near the end of the world

 …and various Churchmen and Catholic entities with short views on ecclesiology and long views on themselves shuffle their feet and clear their throats.

Take it away, Father Rutler!

January 30th, Calendar Square

Snow is falling hard on Calendar Square.
It’s nearly February; phoebes sing
At embarrassing distances among
The whitened trees of dusk, reminding March
It’s got its work to do. The buildings cast
Dull blue shadows across white yawning spaces.
Now that winter’s had its way with time, time
Deletes the solace of annus novus,
While evidence lingers, central conceits
Of presence ravel out the absences
That wrinkle parking lots and alleyways
With tire tracks; that spill the rock salt that’s mixed
In bitter mercy with birdfeed on a stoop;
That winnow storefront windows down and out
To their basics; that make the needful things
Become madly dependent on luxuries
To help restore their meaning. People move
Among their footprints, shadows among shades,
With hungry looks, grinning cold misereres
And scouring the ground before them for some
Reconstructed comfort. No other face
Or posture touches on what’s wanted most –
What’s least at hand. The entire city sounds
An anthology of reveries, morose
In muffled cadence, bruised as ruptured bassoons,
A rich quavering sadness wildly refrained
From deep beneath the river’s strain and flow:
It groans with ice and curves its banks around
The city, lover held by elbow’s crook –
Its daily traffic is measured and cramps
Each fitful instance. After twilight pulled
The stray ribbons and stays of sunlight loose,
The evening’s flowing locks tumbled free
With snow. (The weather’s been asking for it
For days.) Each flake an inculcation of
The equinox, the storm compiles in facts
And whispered dividends; its quiet smoothes
Sepulchral parks into ashen fields; it haunts
The solstice, dreaming phoebes into spring.

Today in Malapropisms?

Third Son:  No, no – Anaconda eggs are brown.

Dad: … oh, Americana.

House of Words Deleted Scenes: Limerick #12

There once was a house made of words.
Inside lived some humans and birds.
Laid out in the cage
Was a newspaper page
Where the words merged with feathers and turds.

Young Mary Flannery O’Connor Reads Jonathan Potter’s House of Words

Picture source.

Ὁ Οἰκοδομοῦντος

(Image: Detail of painting behind main altar at St. James the Less Church, La Crosse, Wis.)

“Λίθον ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες
οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας•”

The moment’s gravity is apogee
Of death and judgment, here where sun and moon
Are beam and pillar of the balance pan
That tips the temple’s peak. But clarity’s
Displaced the weight of time with charity’s
Alacrity: Jerusalem is done
With me. The distant Mediterranean
Ignites in sliver holocaust. I see
Such realms that stretch before me reach for me.
So men have bound my hands, dismantled stone,
And thrown me down. The clumsy club’s “Amen”
Has queered my corners irrevocably;
But square and spirit level resurrect
The equilibrium of the architect.

The highs and lows of the John Farrell experience.

After making me want to go fetal and huddle under my desk with this bit on evolution and the Fall, John Farrell offers this bit of consolation from The Maverick Philosopher.

Today in Catholic Politicians


I blurbed a book


Travis Naught asked me to write a blurb for his fine collection of poetry, The Virgin Journals, and I was glad to oblige.