Leah Umansky speaks with author Carole Maso about her new book, Mother and Child, a dreamlike sequence of interconnected images, characters, and moments.
Read an excerpt of Mother and Child as it appeared in BOMB’s Summer Issue 120 here.
On her website, Carole Maso describes her process as follows: “Often I have had to resort to a form of my own making, exploring various literary, musical, philosophical and visual modes in order to get close to what my subject and my world require.” It is exactly this “making” of Carole’s that brings me to her work over and over again. She explores and rearranges her mediums. I admire her attention to language and imagery, eroticism and voice. Although Carole does not designate herself as such, I often think of her as a secret poet. Over the years, we have become friends and e-pen pals.
In the spring of 2011, Carole was named the VIDA’s Keynote Speaker at the AWP Conference in Washington, DC. She read from her forthcoming book, Mother and Child, which explores the mysterious and delicate bond between a nameless mother and child whose lives are transformed when a tree is split in half and a bat flies into their house. Both are tested, their lives becoming interwoven with the realms of the animal kingdom, magic, and religion. Their world is never the same; it takes on new meanings and the bond they share grows stronger.
Andrew Sean Greer on time travel and the living of life in his new novel The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.
As a longtime reader of Andrew Sean Greer’s work, when I heard of a new book that was featured around a female protagonist, I jumped at the opportunity to interview him. As a fan of The Adventures of Max Tivoli and Story of a Marriage, books I always recommend to other readers, I longed for the beauty and lyricism of his writing.
Andrew Sean Greer’s new book, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, is a book which appears to be about time travel but is centered around the yearning for the unknown, about the love of siblings, and about the struggles of everyday decisions. Greta Wells lives in Manhattan in the late 1980s but due to her electro-shock therapy for her depression, she time travels back to 1941 and 1918. What is most striking about these time periods is how certain we are that we are traveling with Greta on this journey through the layers of New York City and through the layers of herself.
The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells is also a love-letter to a life worth living and to the fabulous city of New York. I very often thought of Michael Cunningham’s opening sections of, The Hours: “It’s the city’s crush and heave that move you; its intricacy; its endless life . . . you find it impossible not to believe that it has always been a city; that if you dug beneath it you would find the ruins of another, older city, and then another and another.” Greta believes in the many lives of New York City, as should you.
Leah Umansky This is now your second book that plays with time (the first being one of my favorites, Max Tivoli). Where do you think your fascination with time stems from?
Andrew Sean Greer It’s a good question, because I’ve often been asked about a fascination with “history,” which isn’t true. My fascination is, as you say, with time. I am the kind of person who can barely stand still as I’m so anxious to fill every minute with something memorable; I am driven by a fear of minutes passing through my fingers. And yet, as a novelist sitting still is precisely what is called for. Luckily, writing is one of the few things in life that feeds on the passage of time and replaces the missing hours with pages, stories, ideas. I think Max Tivoli was my way of dealing with the disappearance of my youth, a time in which I hardly ever felt young. And this book is dealing with middle age and the lives one did not choose to live. The magical elements of both are just devices for me to get to the questions that haunt me.
BOMBlog’s Word Choice features original works of poetry, fiction, and art. This edition of Word Choice, selected by Peter Moysaenko, features poetry by Leah Umansky and art by Andrew Schoultz.
“The tragic and the timeless; / the gestural lines: all a sheet of modern music. The pit; the war paint; the blackened / eyes. The wilderness is brackened. We are on the edge of something.” And so the poet makes the page flex, has her words unpack their maps. Trekking routes the verse hews, we find ourselves not lost or alone, but beside ourselves, beyond each other.
Leah Umansky on the maritime poetics of Underwater NY’s reading at Poets House, featuring Matthea Harvey, KC Trommer and Cate Marvin among others.
Underwater NY’s poetry reading on August 24—featuring Matthea Harvey, KC Trommer, Katie Naughton, Danniel Schoonebeek, Allyson Paty, and Cate Marvin—could not have anchored down a better home than at Poets House, a poetry library tucked into the east bank of the Hudson River. Underwater NY is a sort of magical organization, but magical in a dark, unsettling way, their website populated with images of found objects: purses, animal bones, and teapots. And, of course, creepy doll heads.