and Zarin to Read from New Works March 13
Photo: Michael Malyszko
His jaw hangs slack:
impossible to believe:/Yet here it is what couldn't be upon his
wrist::/The world's most beautiful butterfly: a thing/Whose colors
go well beyond astonishing..." Brad Leithauser's new novel-in-verse,
Darlington's Fall (Knopf 2002) tells the story of an imaginary
turn-of-the-century naturalist whose specialty is butterflies.
Winged insects also dart through The Watercourse (Knopf
2002), Cynthia Zarin's new book of poems, where "...flocks
of blue/moths flit/to the mallow,/their wings a shock/of the lost/word...";
and "...your lips are moths in my snarled hair." Leithauser
will read from Darlington's Fall, and Zarin will read from
The Watercourse, Wednesday, March 13, at 4 pm, in the Stimson
Room of the MHC library. The event is part of an English department
series. Next to appear will be novelist Gloria Naylor on April
long, I know, for a poem (5,708 lines) but short for a novel...,"
says the author's note that precedes Darlington's Fall.
Leithauser, at age forty-nine—author of five novels and four books
of poetry—has combined his metiers as poet and novelist, and his
interests in science, literature, and faraway places to produce,
says John Updike, "an amazing merger of art and science,
verse and narrative. [...] Not since Nabokov has the miracle of
consciousness been celebrated with such erudite passion, such
lofty wit." The story details the life of the lepidopterist
Russ Darlington. As a young man, the naturalist embarks alone
on his first tropical field trip, but on a stopover in Micronesia,
he has a fall that leaves him partially crippled and ends his
career as a field biologist.
Besides being his
first novel-in-verse, Darlington's Fall represents another
first for Leithauser. His brother Mark Leithauser, chief of design
at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., collaborated
with him on the book, creating the graphite drawings that appear
throughout Darlington's Fall. The brothers spent a month
in Italy working together on the project. Says Brad Leithauser,
"My notion, which [Mark] agreed with, was that he would do
one drawing as a chapter head for each of the twelve chapters.
[I wanted him to] convey something of a nineteenth-century atmosphere."
Photo: Tom Hurwitz
In addition to the
March 13 reading at MHC, the public is invited to "An Evening
with Mark and Brad Leithauser" on April 18 at the Hollis
Taggart Gallery in New York City. Along with a book signing and
lecture, the drawings made for Darlington's Fall and a
few oil paintings by Mark Leithauser will be on view there through
May 4. The gallery is located at 48 East 73rd Street. For details
on the gallery event, call Molly Eppard at 212-628-4000; reservations
are required. In addition to writing novels and books of poems,
Brad Leithauser is the author of a collection of essays, Penchants
& Places, and editor of The Norton Book of Ghost Stories
and No Other Book, the selected essays of Randall Jarrell.
A former MacArthur Fellow and Guggenheim Fellow, Leithauser is
Emily Dickinson Senior Lecturer in the Humanities at MHC, a position
he shares with his wife, Mary Jo Salter.
grave, sensuous, radiant, and full of surprises, every line in
The Watercourse," says Judith Thurman, "reminds
one why, especially in dark times, we can't live without our poets."
The Watercourse looks at the themes that weave through
our lives as we age, growing in and out of relationships, raising
children, accompanied, always, by the joys and fears that surround
that journey. "In this book I tried to address the responsibilities
that one has as one grows older," says Zarin, forty-two,
who notes that The Watercourse is centered on "how
much more a person in the world one is as one matures." Zarin
says, too, that her "earlier books were written more quickly;
it took me eight years to write [The Watercourse] because
my life is much more complex now that I have children."
is Zarin's third book of poems; the others are The Swordfish
Tooth and Fire Lyric. She is also the author of three
children's books. Zarin has received fellowships from the National
Endowment for the Arts and the Ingram Merrill Foundation. She
is an artist-in-residence at New York's Cathedral of Saint John
The Odyssey Bookshop
will be selling The Watercourse and Darlington's Fall
at the March 13 reading.