“Secret” Influences on Tana French’s “In the Woods”

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“I am, of course, romanticizing; a chronic tendency of mine.” – In the Woods

“I think that [my fatal flaw] is this: a morbid longing for the picturesque at at all costs.” – The Secret History

I didn’t really know anything about Tana French until I read a recent profile in The New Yorker, which made me curious about her work for several reasons. So when my friend C. offered me her copy of In The Woods, I accepted it and jumped in.

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My Back Pages: Perfume in “A Little Life”

I recently read Hanya Yanagihara’s novel A Little Life. (Many thanks to my friend T. for lending me her copy!) I’m not going to write an actual review; in any case, I’m still sorting out my thoughts about this compelling and troubling (and very long) book.

However, I did want to share one observation I made towards the end of the novel—a perfume-related thought! (If you haven’t yet read A Little Life and you don’t want any potential spoilers, you may wish to stop here.)

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Quick Reads: Henry Alford, “Conducting a Field Test on Pheromones”

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I’ve been an avid reader of Henry Alford’s prose for more than two decades, so I was delighted to note that his latest column for The New York Times recounts his unscientific, but highly amusing, field testing of synthetic pheromones.

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William Butler Yeats, “Song of Wandering Aengus” / Trina Schart Hyman for Cricket Magazine

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This is my fourth and final post in honor of William B. Yeats’s 150-year anniversary. I’m backtracking all the way to my initial encounter with Yeats’s poetry.

Cricket magazine published “The Song of Wandering Aengus” in its September 1974 issue, as a two-page spread with an illustration by Trina Schart Hyman (1939-2004).

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William Butler Yeats, “When You Are Old” / “Peggy Sue Got Married”

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Part three of my personal tribute to Yeats and his 150th anniversary.

I remember a scene or two from the 1986 film “Peggy Sue Got Married” (directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Kathleen Turner) in which Yeats’s poetry was mentioned. In case you haven’t seen this movie: Peggy Sue Bodell is an unhappily married, forty-something woman who attends her high school reunion and wonders what her life would have been like if she’d just made some different choices.

She finds out soon enough, when she faints at the reunion and time-travels back to her senior year of high school.

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William Butler Yeats, “No Second Troy” / Sinead O’Connor, “Troy”

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Part Two: this one dates back to my teen years.

Even if I had tried, I wouldn’t have been able to keep track of the times I listened to Sinead O’Connor’s debut album “The Lion and The Cobra,” first on vinyl and then on CD. I loved nearly every track on that album, but “Troy” was one of my favorites. It ran well over six minutes long and it really did feel epic (long before that word became overused) — it had highs and lows of volume and emotion.

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