Peter Ho Davies is the author of two collections, The Ugliest House in the World and Equal Love, and the novel The Welsh Girl. His new novel, The Fortunes, is out this month.
“My greatest influences are those moments in my past where I’ve been surprised, or where I’ve surprised someone. Those are the moments that stay with me. Reading Jonathan Goldstein’s book Lenny Bruce is Dead was one of those instances where I was profoundly surprised.”
Nature writing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but add some cinema and cultural intrigue and you’ve got some evocative reading. Such is the case with Trudy Dittmar’s Fauna and Flora, Earth and Sky: Brushes with Nature’s Wisdom, a collection of essays from University of Iowa Press.
At the age of 16, soon-to-be writer, editor, and translator René Daumal decided to inhale carbon tetrachloride. Deliberately inhaling carbon tetrachloride is generally a bad idea, but Daumal did it anyway because he wanted to “see,” to hover between life and death in order to understand both more fully.
Of all Mexican novels to read in this post-Trump-visit-to-Mexico era, Daniel Saldaña París’ Among Strange Victims reigns supreme. Not that it’s an overtly political novel, but it is one that explores the unbearable absurdities of living in this world.
The year was 1944. Special Operations Executive officer Patrick “Paddy” Leigh Fermor, having spent a year in Cairo, returned to the occupied island of Crete to kidnap a German general. The incident would come to be known as the Kidnap, or Abduction, of General Kreipe.
My grandfather’s work has always loomed large in my mind, made mysterious by its inaccessibility. I never learned to speak Spanish, not fluently, not well – though I maintain the vocabulary of a toddler. Hace calor hoy. Mi color favorito es azul. The “I” centered statements of basic need.
If Mr. Trump were to win the November election, all sorts of interesting questions arise: Would he ask someone to write and read an inaugural poem? Would the writer have to get the poem cleared by Trump? Most interesting of all, though: would the poet accept the invitation?
Last month I found myself in the gardening section of a German supermarket where, on sale, I came across Mexican-themed cacti. Tiny, impossibly hairy things with googly eyes and black moustaches and pastel colored sombreros made of clay. Typical German kitsch. “That looks like my uncle Mario,” I thought.
When I arrived in Florence for an extended trip, I was determined not to look like a tourist. I wanted to carry a leather-bound notebook and sit at sidewalk cafes drinking cappuccinos and looking thoughtful. Mostly, I wanted to read The Decameron and the last two books of The