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« Conversation with Philip Levine: On growing up Jewish in Detroit, playing tennis in verse, and hanging on to his memories | Main | Sing it, Ella ("This Time the Dream's On Me") »

April 18, 2012


I absolutely loved the depcition of how little they did at the office. That was fascinating. More insightful was the brutal depiction of the main character's self-deception and reliance on fantasy. Yates does not spare him from his evisceration. Descendants of revolutionaries complacently dreaming of the old world and how it will save them. I warn you that the movie is all wrong in tone. It does not get the exquisite irony of the book, and actually agrees with the kind of belief system of the main character. In other words, it's a standard the-sururbs-kill-your-spirit kind of thing, whereas Yates was much more damning of these people who were cowardly as much as they were stifled by the culture. It is a brilliant book about America. A descendant of this book is Paula Fox's book about Brooklyn which I think is similar in tone, though darker and more paranoid. I like Yates better.

Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Stephanie. You're right about the brutal depiction of the guy's self-deception. I am curious about the movie but shall expect the predictable soulless suburban saga whereas the book is so much subtler than that. And yes, I agree that cowardice versus selfishness, or is it cowardice at the service of selfishness, is an animating impulse. Do you love the way the protagonist becomes an overnight success? I must read Paula Fox's book if it is anywhere near as great. DL

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That Ship Has Sailed
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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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