ISSUES | winter 2007

30.4 Cover

30.4 (Winter 2007): "Fractured"

Featuring work by Paul Guest, Dennis McFadden, L.E. Miller, Robyn L. Murphy, Stephen O’Connor, Elaine Neil Orr, Bart Skarzynski, and Preston Mark Stone… also, an interview with Lore Segal, and a look at the letters of Laurence Olivier.

CONTENT FROM THIS ISSUE

30.4 Cover

Found Text

Dec 01 2007

Laurence Olivier's Letters to Young Actors

Laurence Olivier never wanted to be a matinee idol or a leading man who played only romantic heroes. Yet after back-to-back performances in Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, and Pride and Prejudice in 1939-1940, he was sought after by producers and directors, celebrity magazines and ardent fans. His early roles were classic literary characters. A New York Times reviewer called his portrayal of Heathcliff a case of “a player physically and emotionally ordained for a role.” He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for both Wuthering Heights and Rebecca. Hollywood was sending a rare message: “We want more.”

30.4 Cover

Nonfiction

Dec 01 2007

My Life with Hair

March 2006. I’m sitting in a hot tub at Well of Mercy Catholic Retreat Center in Hamptonville, North Carolina, under a full moon. I got in on this chilly night hoping to drift further away from the anxieties that prompted me to retreat: the regular stack of ungraded papers, a botched repair job in my kitchen, a spat with a friend. I’m a person who received pancreas and kidney transplants six years ago, and I’m easily fatigued. My mother is elderly, our country is at war — there’s enough to be concerned about. But what I’m thinking of at the moment is my hair.

30.4 Cover

Nonfiction

Dec 01 2007

Vien a ca, Beda

In 1988, at the age of eleven and a half, I spent the first of what would be several summers in Sicily. My parents had separated the previous year, and my mother had migrated from Montreal to Catania, a city tucked between the great Mount Etna and the placid Ionian Sea. There, a leisurely walk from a rocky coast that had once boiled and spilled from the earth and into the waves, she lived with a man she’d met on an Adriatic beach some sixteen years earlier.

30.4 Cover

Foreword

Dec 01 2007

Fractured

In one of his many helpful letters of advice sent to young actors — published for the first time in this issue — Laurence Olivier describes the essence of a Shakespearean tragic character as a “perfect statue of a man,” made vulnerable by a significant flaw that finally will destroy him. Olivier’s remark calls to mind a quality of literature and indeed of all the arts: they relate to the core of an individual, the human, not the “statue,” and they articulate danger. The masks of literature, like those of primitive art and ritual, suggest “the other” that lies below the social being — the primal conflicts, the animal, and the sometimes scary forces within us.