On February 13, Advocate alumnus and contributor Patrick Lauppe conducted an interview with American novelist Kathryn Davis. An abridged transcript of their conversation appears below. Davis is the author of seven novels, including Duplex, which was published by Graywolf Press in September. You can find “The January Tunnel,” a chapter of her upcoming novel, in the Advocate’s latest issue, TRIAL.
Notes from 21 South Street is delighted to present the second installment of highlights from the Harvard Advocate‘s upcoming TRIAL issue. Below, Noah Pisner ’14 records an excerpt from his features piece, ‘Eulogy for a Cosmonaut.’
The Harvard Advocate is proud to announce the upcoming launch of the TRIAL issue! For the next few weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of interviews, recordings, and essays highlighting works by our undergraduate writers and professional contributors featured in TRIAL. Notes from 21 South St. readers, look forward to an exciting taste of what will be in this issue.
Below, listen to Zoë Hitzig ’15, outgoing publisher, reading her poem, “Aniseed in sand,” which is published in this edition of the magazine. After making this recording, Zoë and Kevin Hong had an in-depth discussion about the piece; an abridged transcript of the interview is published here. You can subscribe to The Harvard Advocate here.
–Moeko Fujii ’15
The advent of winter always brings Wallace Stevens’s “The Snow Man” to mind. Reading it this time around, I have been fascinated by the relationship between the poem’s lines and their surrounding space. Just as Stevens directs our attention toward the silence that accompanies the snowy season, an emptiness that asserts itself in its negativity, so he asks us to listen more closely to the “stuff” before and after each line and stanza.
Stanza, in Italian, means “room.” In “The Snow Man,” Stevens gives us five rooms; each room has its own white space around it, its own silence. Yet the poet does not close the door at the end of each stanza — rather, a single sentence runs through every room, a draft through an old house. There is a unique tension in this poem, one that pits pause against flow. The reader, straining to bridge one clause with the next, is resisted by a “nothing that is.”
Letters have started to pool at the bottom of my backpack. The alphabetical kind. They lie on the surface of jagged, shrapnel-like scraps of paper and were once part of The Sound and the Fury. Perhaps the printing house of my edition disliked the book and chose an especially brittle paper for it, knowing it would disintegrate in my hands as I read it. Hundreds of pages fell out and splintered when they should have folded; it seemed like pre-programmed self-destruction happening out of sympathy for the Compson family. I no longer own a copy of The Sound and the Fury.
But I’ve been carrying around its remains all semester. I sometimes find pieces lodged between leaves in my notebook, or occasionally stuck to my toes while I study. They show up everywhere, clinging to objects I transfer from one bag to another, or leaping into my hair in the process. Every time I put a book, notebook, or object of any other kind into my bag, I further pummel the already tortured fragments that haven’t made a run for it. By the end of the semester, the pool may be indistinguishable from the sand that hitches a ride in my pockets after a weekend retreat.
Notes from 21 South Street is happy to present its winter theme: Marginalia. Krithika Varagur ’15 introduces the theme; visit the blog to read more on marginalia in the coming weeks.
What compares to the shame of rereading? Returning a year, month, or week, to a book you rather liked the first time around, you feel a twinge of shame that the first pages’ metaphors are so freshly wonderful. You blush to realize that the comic subplot had entirely evaporated from your memory. Rereading the seminal (you thought) novel of that discontented summer, you seriously question where your atrophied memory places you within the populace; when every page seems so resolutely new, just what from this text had affected you so? Nabokov said that “one cannot read a book, one can only reread it,” but that’s cold comfort for the prospect that your remembrance of Portrait of the Artist may be as detailed as, and less accurate than, its Cliffnotes.