Loads of Learned Lumber

Friday, October 14, 2016

John Palatella

THE OCTOBER 10 issue of The Nation was excellent--Naomi Klein on the Orland Letelier murder forty years ago, a photo-essay-with-oral-history of some of the women of the Black Panthers, Ange Mlinko on Denise Riley, Barry Schwabsky on David Hammons--but I was sorry to see that with that issue John Palatella handed off his responsibilities as literary editor.

I'd say his tenure there has been a brilliant one--for me, at least, the back pages The Nation during the Palatella years have been a go-to place for the best ideas on what to read next, especially for translated fiction. I think I read about Alejandro Zambra, Evelio Rosero, Roberto BolaƱo, Jenny Erpenbeck, and Elena Ferrante in The Nation before I did anywhere else. Contributors included folks like Joshua Clover, Ta-Nehisi Coates, George Scialabba, and the amazing William Deresiewicz. And if Palatella had anything to do with getting Peter Gizzi and Ange Mlinko on board for the magazine's poetry department, I am thankful to him for that as well.

Not sure about his (perhaps) final "Shelf Life" column, a tone-deaf (say I) assessment of Ben Lerner's The Hatred of Poetry...but what the heck, I didn't love the back pages of The Nation because I always agreed with everything I read there. I  loved them because they were intelligent, fresh, surprising, and illuminating, issue after issue. So thank you, John Palatella.

No comments: