Left Out to Rot
Kate Christensen analyzes a poet in crisis
by Kate Christensen
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Artists can be fascinating creatures: stubborn, arrogant, passionate, yet so fragile. How do we accommodate or even tolerate these strange birds, so obsessive and tenacious when it comes to their craft, so distracted and self-involved even when they’re not working, so fixated, no matter how successful they are, on the question of their own brilliance (or lack thereof)? And how do artists navigate a world that’s largely indifferent (if not hostile) to their species?
Harry, the poet narrator of Kate Christensen’s latest novel, The Astral, embodies the finest qualities and most lamentable flaws of an artist, or at least a certain type of artist: He is thoughtful yet blind to himself, original yet horribly familiar, pompous yet plagued by self-doubt, charming yet self-indulgent. We find Harry in the throes of a major
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