RaveOn the SeawallLi’s extraordinary new novel is a multivalent exploration of friendship and love, experience and exploitation, fate and futility, the slippage between reality and artifice.
Edna St Vincent Millay ed. Daniel Mark Epstein
PositiveOn the SeawallIn his commentary, Epstein treats the writer’s personal weaknesses with sensitivity, her triumphs with enthusiasm ... Millay was not an unflagging diarist, and so Rapture and Melancholy cannot offer an unbroken biographical or narrative arc. After her first semester, there are no extant diaries for Millay’s legendary expulsion-courting years at Vassar, nor any regular entries in the early 1920s, when she published the collections that won her the Pulitzer. The bulk of the entries Epstein has selected for inclusion fall from about 1907–1913 and 1927–1935, with gaps even within those periods. Prior familiarity with at least the rough contours of Millay’s life and work will certainly benefit readers, though Epstein prefaces each section of Rapture and Melancholy with commentary and biographical highlights, and endnotes briefly identify now-obscure people, places, and works that Millay mentions ... This volume will be of particular interest to Millay enthusiasts, of course, and to scholars of early 20th-century literature and culture ... will also appeal to general readers interested in the unfiltered workings of a lively, complicated mind. The diaries reveal a writer both insecure and imperious, convivial and lonely, kind and cruel: brilliantly and wretchedly human ... On this painful subject, Epstein’s commentary — which uncomfortably compares the unpleasant housework of a white teenager in 1908 to the compelled labor of enslaved Black women in the nineteenth century — would benefit from more engagement with scholars of racism.
RaveHeavy Feather ReviewPlaylist for the Apocalypse defies generalization and offers ample opportunity to appreciate Dove’s extraordinary, honed talents, especially her gift for bridging past and present through persona, her musical phrasing, and her deft handling of form. Like the best playlists, this assured collection both satisfies and surprises ... Dove’s sparkling, jewel-like images range from playful...to luscious...to knowing ... Riveting ... In the poem that is the source of the collection’s title, Shakespeare \'pens a sonnet while building / a playlist for the apocalypse.\' With this book Dove, too, performs such a feat. It is a privilege to observe such a brilliant mind working through multiple difficult subjects at once, with grace and wit to spare.