John Cotter

  • culture September 11, 2012

    Seven Houses in France by Bernardo Atxaga

    During the height of the Belle Epoque, while comfortably ensconced in his palace in Brussels, King Leopold II of Belgium perpetrated a series of shadowy maneuvers that succeeded in making him the sole owner and master of an area almost 10,000 miles away: the Congo river, the land surrounding, and the people who lived there. Through Leopold never personally set foot in Africa, his merchants and gendarmes stripped the land of ivory, mahogany, and rubber; kidnapped, mutilated, and lynched local populations; and left about ten million dead over the span of twenty years.

    This is the landscape of

  • culture June 11, 2009

    Sleeping it off in Rapid City by August Kleinzahler

    …it is difficult not to watch

    the movie on TV at the foot of his bed.

    40” color screen,

    a jailhouse dolly psychodrama;

    truncheons and dirty shower scenes.

    I recognize one of the actresses …

    Here is the interior of “The Old Poet, Dying,” by August Kleinzahler. The vigil Kleinzahler keeps beside the dying man’s bed is a modern one, too infrequently expressed in poetry, perhaps. Anne Heche makes an appearance, though Kleinzahler declines to have her named (the movie he describes can only be 1994’s “Girls in Prison.”) This, like most of Kleinzahler’s asides, may not be an aside