Thursday, February 28, 2013

'And all the streets were new'

Brad Leithauser has a piece about concision in The New Yorker's Page-turner blog today. He writes about poetry, among all writing forms, as the ultimate testament to the art of saying a lot by not saying much. One of the poems he highlights is Donald Hall's "Exile":
A boy who played and talked and read with me
Fell from a maple tree. 
I loved her, but I told her I did not,
And wept, and then forgot. 
I walked the streets where I was born and grew,
And all the streets were new.
Mr. Leithauser grew up in Detroit, a fact that informed his musings on this poem:
The third stanza echoes in my head whenever I find myself wandering around the old Detroit neighborhoods of my boyhood. Even those blocks that have escaped either renovation or the wrecker’s ball, the ones where the houses look the same, have become different blocks and houses. The change is within, like some reworking of cornea and retina; over time, you can’t help seeing with new eyes.
His post reminded me of Mr. Leithauser's novel The Art Student's War, set in WWII-era Detroit, that I have been intending to read for some years now. I nearly always enjoy Mr. Leithauser's magazine and blog writing, and I'm wondering if it translates well into fiction. Has anyone given the novel a crack?

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