Introduction to Renato! A Novel by Eugene Mirabelli
My old friend Eugene Mirabelli just published his magnum opus, a novel entitled Renato!, at the end of October with McPherson & Company. I wrote the introduction. Here’s a taste.
“It is as if, in delving always more deeply into who he is, Mirabelli has reinvented the peculiarly Italian, extravagantly melodramatic and often comic vision—the opera—in the novel form. By fusing the tale of American mid-life domestic chaos with the extravagant genealogy of the Cavallù clan, he creates a wonderful interplay of narrative planes, present and past, myth and reality, youth and age. He is a master of montage, sudden narrative breaks, interwoven plots and themes. And he couples this complexity with a sense of tranquil acceptance; not a superficial shrug but a genuinely comic (loving) accommodation to life and death. The Cavallù family, Sicily, and Boston’s North End are Mirabelli’s Yoknapatawpha County, the country of his imagination.”
All the Sad Clowns: On Francis Carco’s Novel “Perversity” | LA Review of Books
“The rightness of Ford’s intuition in bringing Rhys into the frame becomes abundantly clear when you consider that both Carco and Rhys wrote books about gender hierarchy and exploitation — about the patriarchy on meth. Carco wrote about prostitutes and pimps, where sex is business and men brutalize women in plain sight. Rhys dealt with a different group of women — a politer but no less dependent class, manipulated and entrapped by suave, wealthy men in tweeds. In fact, Perversity is very much a Jean Rhys novel except that it’s the male negative to her female positive. Rhys would have written the story from the point of view of Irma, the prostitute who’s shot to death on the last page.”
(July 19, 2020)
Pete & Jigs, 1918: Scenes from the other pandemic | Canadian Notes & Queries
A short essay about my grandmother who was a student nurse at Toronto General Hospital at the time of the 1918 flu pandemic.
“On October 22, at the peak of the city’s Spanish flu pandemic, her friend Jigs (the only name I have for her) stole a few minutes from her hospital duties to scribble a note warning my grandmother not to visit. Then she went on to describe her isolation amid the overflowing wards, the prayers, vigils, deaths, and funerals. Her words are grim and stoic, her affect flat, she had no one else to confide in. ‘I will begin with our class,’ she writes. ‘Jean Thistlethwaite died with it Sunday at midnight. There was a funeral service at Miles Undertaking Chapel last night for the nurses & doctors.’”
A deep appreciation from a man who also reviewed Attack of the Copula Spiders.
“That’s the value of Glover’s essays. His deep analysis of great works of fiction is more like the study of, say, quantum physics: the details are fascinating, and on the surface they don’t seem to have any purpose in one’s daily life. And yet, comprehending the underpinnings of our existence in relation to the evolution of storytelling creates perspective that leads to mindfulness, an understanding of what resonates in the human psyche—what words, what phrases, what desires. If a writer can assimilate the knowledge within Glover’s essays—to know it without consciously thinking of it while writing—it empowers her to create works of deeper, more effective meaning, works that engage on both conscious and subconscious levels.”
Gracious praise from Brendan Riley at Three Percent:
“The Erotics of Restraint is a superlative collection—smart, judicious, clear, interesting, sharp, expertly crafted, infectious as the metonymic impulse—an education in and of itself, a brilliant primer on how to understand, and possibly emulate, modern and postmodern literature.”
(June 6, 2020)
My interview with John Banville now in print | University Press of Mississippi
The University Press of Mississippi has just published Conversations with John Banville, a collection of interviews with that great Irish author. I interviewed Banville, eons ago, with the timeless time of memory, when I had weekly radio interview show at the Albany (NY) public radio station, WAMC. That interview is included with the title I gave it when I uploaded the audio file to Numéro Cinq, “The Beauty and the Tenderness of the World.”
This Conversations series at the University Press has a long list of entries and is wonderful. My Gordon Lish interview is included in another volume. It’s an amazing reference trove for scholars and writers and, yes, even readers.
A Genealogy of Style: A Conversation with Douglas Glover | LA Review of Books
At the beginning, I didn’t have a map. You learn to make your own map. It’s like doing genealogy; you sort through history identifying your ancestors, and you get better at being yourself.
(April 20, 2020)
A Barbarian on a Pillaging Expedition: Interview | Fiction Writers Review
I love the essay form; it’s a way of thinking, a form of thought, just as, say, the aphorism is a form of thought. You don’t have the thought before you write the essay; you might have an inkling, a thread, forethought, a text (like a sermon has a text), but the complete thought doesn’t exist until you have written a coherent, staged, unified essay. Each step in the structure is a discovery, beginning with an accurate description and synopsis of the work you’re writing about; the pay-off, the ending, comes when you reach a poetic and summative moment of clarity that washes back over the whole…
(November 21, 2019)
My new essay collection is just out with Biblioasis (who also published Attack of the Copula Spiders).
Why do we read? What do we cherish in a book? What is the nature of a masterpiece? What do Alice Munro, Albert Camus, and the great Polish experimentalist Witold Gombrowicz have in common? In the tradition of Nabokov, Calvino, and Kundera, Douglas Glover’s new essay collection fuses his long experience as an author with his love of philosophy and his passion for form. Call it a new kind of criticism or an operator’s manual for readers and writers, The Erotics of Restraint extends Glover’s long and deeply personal conversation with great books and their authors. With the same dazzling mix of emotion and idea that characterizes his fiction, he dissects narrative and shows us how and why it works, why we love it, and how that makes us human. Erudite and obsessively detailed, inventive, confessional, and cheeky, these essays offer a brilliant clarity, a respite in an age of doubt.
(August 20, 2019)
3AM:MAGAZINE in the UK just published a brilliant and comprehensive new essay about my work by Bruce Stone. Stone does an especially good job of looking at my stories in the context of some of my nonfiction, including the epigrams I used to write for Global Brief and an essay on experimental writing that will appear shortly in my new book The Erotics of Restraint (Biblioasis, 2019). Here’s a taste of the essay:
Douglas Glover’s fiction deserves rapturous praise, even if the work itself equivocates, disavows its own artistry, bites the hand that reads it, then lapses into silence. His narratives are tortured and tender, incorrigibly funny, laced with pungent details (like smelling salts, they arouse consciousness) and moist with vital fluids. The textual architecture, his special genius, he frets carefully and flays, baring armatures of nested patterns, rigged to ensure his forms are felt. And however wild things get, his prose remains sleek and spare, crystalline even, or maybe just curt—when it’s not frothing, or expatiating, or lexically slumming, or off somewhere clowning around. But touting Glover’s gifts can feel a little like cheerleading for Beckett. He is schooled in the scariest branches of philosophy, rigorously and unrepentantly postmodern, about which bent he doesn’t mince words or pull punches. His fictions seem to pose the grim question, “How bad could it be?”, then proceed, with a nod and a grin, to show us. The nearest art-historical analogue for Glover’s aesthetic might be Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights: surreal and freakish cavorting with apocalyptic overtones (one cadaver-hued nude plucks long-stemmed flowers from another’s rectum), all limned with an eerie clarity of form and line.
(July 29, 2019)
Photographs below were taken by Douglas Glover except for the ones in which he appears, which were taken by Jacob Glover (Nova Scotia beach pictures), Katharine Abbott (father & son photo), and Melissa Fisher (British Columbia beach picture).
“And I thought how Proust teaches us that all love resides
in anticipation and not the beloved,
that love achieved is only on loan,
that we are martyrs to our desires, which are endless.”
Douglas Glover, Savage Love