Monday, May 4, 2009

Go Rimbaud!

My review of Edmund White's Rimbaud is up on the Rain Taxi website. (The print version of the Spring 2009 issue features a review I did of Mike Marqusee's If I Am Not For Myself: Journey of an Anti-Zionist Jew).

White is a poet, critic and novelist who balances an account of Rimbaud's misadventures with an appreciation for the poet's genius. He recontextualizes Rimbaud's sexuality and backgrounds the boy's artistic awakening with the failed utopia of the Paris Commune.

Arthur Rimbaud offers readers the conviction that the fate of the world is in the hands of the artists, and the stakes could not be higher. His career trajectory also disproves a common trope about artists--that they must create at all costs, because it is "in their blood." After turning literature upside down, Rimbaud abandoned his poetry completely to become a frustrated gun runner in Africa.