Tag: book review

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The cover of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Until August", with a stylized photo of the author waving to an audience.

Beautified Words: Reviewing “Until August” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

We listen to the dead; we read their work, listen to their music, teach our children of the long lineage of the humanities. We are familiar with posthumous publication: previously unknown work can come into the public sphere though various ways, including the auction of intimate artifacts. Eventually, it is history that is the heir, and it is upon this premise that large recognition sometimes finds ecstatic work, such as that of Nobel Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Ten years after the author’s death, the heirs allowed publication of Until August (Borzoi, 2024) in an edition that also includes much commentary and the fascinating reproduction of the manuscript in revision. Categorized as a novel by the publisher, and as a novella in some reviews, the volume itself is a hardbound volume in a slightly odd trim size more often found in poetry and gift books than a work of some literary heft. There’s an interesting interplay between the lightness of the physical volume and the formidable reputation of the author, whose previous works have weightier physical presence.

Perhaps it is detrimental to an individual work to compare it to its siblings, works from the same artist, and reviews of Until August do contextualize this volume, with Max Liu’s commentary more about the circumstances of publication than the text, and ending with this damning conclusion: “Usually, an underwhelming posthumous publication or minor work by a major author…will delight fans. I do not believe this is true of Until August. Gabriel Garcia Marquez knew this and was right not to want it to see the light of day. His family and his publishers should have respected his wishes.” A slightly softer view was taken by Art Edwards, who opens his remarks on how titles can seem “monumental”, how “these titles offered a sense that the heart of literature beat strongly”. After a deeper look into the text itself, Edwards concludes that the work has a “portended tragedy” that is “the kind of pathos” expected of a Nobel laureate. And while the Kirkus review dismisses the work as “a lyrical rom-com”, another for The Guardian makes the assertation that the protagonists’ motivation “isn’t a psychologically complex sating of unmet appetites” and mentions the family relationship of the protagonist, as if the one is a de facto dismissal of the other. […]

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A black and white depiction of horses running amidst dust, as imagined in Jess Bowers's "Horse Show" (2024). [Featured image via SorcerySoap HocusPocus for Pixabay.]

Standing Horses: Review of “Horse Show” by Jess Bowers

We have forgotten the horse, and in doing so, are erasing our own history: the collaboration between horse and human extends into prehistory, and the effect of horses upon human civilization now extends into the width of our roads, our vehicles, and everything we have built that is predicated on that measurement—in truth, the width of a hitched team, the width of two horses yoked together. It is at our peril that we forget the horse, that we forget what we owe them for our civilization; any document of human history involves movement across land and the most formidable masses of moving humans were collaborating with horses. It’s not just us, although humancentric views are internalized as such.

The equestrian world, of humans and horses together, exists almost as a parallel reality to that which we know prosaically as modern society. Horses are large and require room to move about, they require land which is being erased by endless human rapaciousness, they are fragile and the hard corners of human habitation often are their undoing. Caring for a horse involves the muscles of your body and getting them their dinner before you get yours; it involves insect bites, dirt, feces, and a rudimentary skill as a medic. Horse habitat also involves complex natural ecosystems, and in many places has become the last retreat for too many species of wildlife. […]