Today’s triptych begins with Nathan Deuel’s review of Kevin Powers’ debut novel, The Yellow Birds. Take It From a Soldier: On Kevin Powers’s “Yellow Birds”
“(Powers)…spins literature out of atrocity; through his words, we not only see the war in Iraq firsthand, but are forced to consider the range of its consequences.
Our narrator, like Powers, appreciates poetry; this might be abnormal for an army gunner but it makes for a good story, and, perhaps more importantly, good storytelling. “I remember feeling relief in basic [training] while everyone else was frantic with fear,” the narrator says:
‘It had dawned on me that I’d never have to make a decision again. That seemed freeing, but it gnawed at some part of me even then. Eventually I had to learn that freedom is not the same as absence of accountability.’
At its heart, this is the book’s central concern: Freedom is bullshit and in the end it is also what matters, while what propels us forward or holds us back is accountability.”
The left panel of the triptych shows detail from outsider artist George Mendoza’s painting, “Canary House.” Mendoza is a blind artist who painted this bold look through canary-filled trees into an explosive sun.
George Mendoza Canary House © All rights reserved
Hockey and Literature?! Sports, I barely know ye, but David Davis writes a rollicking good piece here, that held my attention. It’s a survey of “hockey lit” and much more.
For The Puck Stops Here: A Hockey Lit Survey, I offer up detail of this terrific sports photo of one of the all-time great heroes of Canadian hockey, Maurice Richard of the Montreal Canadiens. He joined in 1942 (sticking with the wartime era in this triptych) and stayed until 1960, retiring as all-time scoring leader with 544 goals. More interesting tales of him along with a few other gasp-worthy pix over here: http://www.badassoftheweek.com/richard.html I couldn’t source the photo but I am assuming it’s Archives du Globe and Mail. If anyone knows differently, please notify me.
The right panel includes detail from the famously optimistic, wartime New York World’s Fair. The poster uses the Trylon and the Perisphere, symbols of the fair’s theme; ‘Building the World of Tomorrow.” I hope brilliant Austrian designer Joseph Binder, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1934 and created this perfect piece of poster art, won’t mind my giving the Trylon the bright aura of a nuclear blast or if you prefer, the warm glow of nostalgia for this one occasion. I’ve done it to illustrate the following from James Santel’s piece on Michael Chabon; The Golden Age: On Chabon’s “Telegraph Avenue”
“These subjects may sound narrow, but Chabon isn’t a marshal of curios. He deftly uses the particularity of one tribe’s nostalgia—of comic book collectors, of New Yorkers, of Jews—to represent the generality of American longing. And his novels are fair-minded about nostalgia, interrogating the feeling even as they partake of it. A fine passage from Kavalier & Clayexemplifies the elegance with which Chabon achieves this balance:
“One of the sturdiest precepts of the study of human delusion is that every golden age is either past or in the offing. The months preceding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor offer a rare exception to this axiom. During 1941, in the wake of that outburst of gaudy hopefulness, the World’s Fair, a sizable portion of the citizens of New York City had the odd experience of feeling for the time in which they were living, at the very moment they were living in it, that strange blend of optimism and nostalgia which is the usual hallmark of the aetataureate [a Chabon neologism that denotes a golden age] delusion.’”
Posted by Lisa Jane Persky