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Hotel Bar

J.D. McClatchy, 8 August 2002

... The saxophonist winds up ‘My Romance’, the song with a scar. In the red lacquer ceiling, the night’s raw throat, I can just make out lampshades the colour of a smoker’s breath. One is at our table. Across sits a woman in tiny furs from before the war, the mouth of one gnawing on the tail of the other, like comets. A sudden brightness on stage, a flaring spot, flashes on the nodding brass ...

Kohl-Rimmed

Laura Quinney: James Merrill, 4 April 2002

Collected Poems 
by James Merrill, edited by J.D. McClatchy and Stephen Yenser.
Knopf, 736 pp., £35.75, February 2001, 0 375 41139 9
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... This Collected Poems is not a ‘Complete Poetry’. It omits Merrill’s trilogy of book-length poems, The Changing Light at Sandover, as well as a number of uncollected or unpublished poems. The notes are minimal. Merrill died in 1995: the editors of this volume, who are also his literary executors, apparently decided to publish a reader’s edition in short order ...

The Colour of His Eyes

Michael Hofmann: Hugo von Hofmannsthal, 12 March 2009

The Whole Difference: Selected Writings of Hugo von Hofmannsthal 
edited by J.D. McClatchy.
Princeton, 502 pp., £24.95, October 2008, 978 0 691 12909 9
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... from the last ten years that probably marks a diminuendo as much as a revival – only J.D. McClatchy’s makes any sort of effort to represent him in his fullness and variety, with a clutch of poems, a couple of stories, some essays, the first scene from Der Rosenkavalier, and two plays: that comedy, Der Schwierige, and the risible late tragedy ‘The ...

Places Never Explained

Colm Tóibín: Anthony Hecht, 8 August 2013

The Selected Letters of Anthony Hecht 
edited by Jonathan Post.
Johns Hopkins, 365 pp., £18, November 2012, 978 1 4214 0730 2
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... accent became English, or almost English. In an interview in the Paris Review in 1988 he told J.D. McClatchy: ‘I suppose my voice must sound affected in some way … Doubtless it’s a mask of some sort; a fear or shame of something, very likely of being Jewish, a matter I am no longer in the least ashamed of, though once it was a painful ...

A Peacock Called Mirabell

August Kleinzahler: James Merrill, 30 March 2016

James Merrill: Life and Art 
by Langdon Hammer.
Knopf, 913 pp., £27, April 2015, 978 0 375 41333 9
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... not only a lifelong friend but one of Merrill’s very best readers, and co-editor, with J.D. McClatchy, of an excellent though overlong 2008 Selected Poems. Reading Merrill at length can feel like being trapped in endless rooms full of Ming Dynasty black lacquer furniture with mother-of-pearl inlays, and flowering begonias painted on, along with birds ...

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