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After Us

Another War

- By W.D. Ehrhart








Last night it rained, and then turned cold.
Today the trees are coated in ice,
every bare branch, every tiny needle
on the evergreens. Now the sun’s come out,
the sparkle on the trees is dazzling,
enough to lift the heaviest heart,
enough to make you think this world’s
not so hopeless as it seemed last night.

Last night, Russian missiles hit Ukraine,
and Russian tanks crossed the border
headed for Kyiv. Who’s at fault?
Who did what to whom? No doubt
the fingers will be pointing sixteen
different ways to Sunday. Anymore,
it’s hard to care whose fault it is.
It just keeps happening.


After Us

How War Begins

- By Izet Sarajlić and Jim Hicks

Tonight, driving home from the Mass Review office, I listened to a report on All Things Considered. An expert from the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies opined on the distinctions between “invasion” and “incursion” and how best to describe what’s happening today in Ukraine. It’s difficult, of course, to keep one’s blood from boiling, or to keep one’s brain from thinking of arguments about angels dancing on pins and needles. Yet in my case, as is today no doubt true of many outside the world’s comfort zones, I also couldn’t help thinking, haven’t we been here before...


The Writer as Meditative Thinker

- By Jim Hicks

(Photo from Mondonuovo, directed by Davide Ferrario, produced by Movie Movie, Bologna, 2003)

This year, during the second night of January, one of our favorite writers passed away. Gianni Celati was a brilliant thinker, an innovative, experimental stylist, and an influential translator—and most of all, he cared about people, about communities, and about history. In short, our kind of guy. We were honored, a few years back, to publish Celati’s remembrance of attending the funeral of his friend and mentor, Italo Calvino, as translated by Patrick Barron.

To commemorate Celati's work, and to introduce it to those of you not fortunate enough to know him already, we offer here a three-part colloquy. First,...


Wind Taking Flight Among the Ruins

- By Anna Botta

In the “Foreword” to his Conversations with the Wind Taking Flight, Gianni Celati states that:

Writing is a conversation with whoever will read us, and conversations carry us like the wind—we never really know what the direction will be. Here the “wind taking flight” is our name for that atmospheric force that words take on, scattering them across all sorts of subjects, from cinema to autobiography.

The way that Celati’s writing moves forward—that disorienting “sense of vast horizons” (Nunzia Palmieri), that aimless wandering with an eye driven by his anxious and eternally insatiable mind, that fluid pace of face-to-face conversations—is also found in the way that Celati makes...


In Memoriam, Gianni Celati (1937-2022)

- By Patrick Barron

I came to know Gianni Celati through his writings (if knowing a person in this way is possible), beginning in the late 1990s when I found his book Narratori delle pianure (“Storytellers of the Plains,” translated as Voices from the Plains) in a shop in Ferrara, a town in northern Emilia Romagna not far from the Po River, where I was living at the time and working as an English teacher. On the cover is a photograph of Celati by Luigi Ghirri, a lone figure facing away from the camera and standing on a muddy road that curves to the left across a vague expanse of snowy land, slightly crooked and bent over something immediately at hand. I imagine that Celati is taking notes, trying to describe his surroundings—the seemingly nondescript expanse of wintry...

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