Wednesday, September 02, 2009


I don't know who William Logan is, but his review of Louise Glück’s new book is one of the meanest things I've seen in a long time.
“A Village Life” is a subversive departure for a poet used to meaning more than she can say. All these years that Glück has been writing her stark, emaciated verse, there has been an inner short-story writer itching to break out. (The publicity optimistically refers to the new style as “novel­istic”; but there is no novel here, only patches of long-windedness.) * * *

Perhaps I’m not the only reader who finds Glück hilarious, in a ghoulish way — like a stand-up vampire. * * *

It's good to see a poet old enough to draw Social Security making new contracts with the language. Unfortunately, Glück doesn’t yet have control of these long measures — the lines are slack, the fictions drowsy and the moments of heightened attention like oases in a broad desert (the poems don’t argue, they merely accumulate). Without the energies of her short lines and sharply drawn moods, she turns out to have an imagination almost as conventional as anyone else’s.

Glück is still a poet of sensibility more than sense, which means that the mortal pressure of her verse exceeds her ability to make memorable phrases. * * *

Glück remains our great poet of annihilation and disgust, our demigoddess of depression. At her discomforting best, she reminds me of no poet more than Rilke, who was also a case of nerves and who also lived close to the old myths. Though her comments about him have been hedged, of all the Americans now writing Glück is the closest to being his secret mythographer. Her silences fall at times like moral resistance, and the most striking lines of her chatter are as haunting as an elegy for herself.
Not just catty mean, but your-entire-career-has-been-a-bathetic-waste-of-paper mean.

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