In a moment in which our country’s various wars, Revolutionary, Civil, World, and otherwise, are trawled for something to give meaning to our present calamities, studying the Kellogg brothers’ era and milieu is a refreshing and much-needed reminder that much of the reason why daily life looks the way it does owes not to generals or presidents, but to the works of scientists and businesspeople.
Mario Vargas Llosa writes in “Why Literature?”, his 2001 essay for The New Republic, that “literary illusion lifts and transports us outside of history, and we become citizens in a timeless land, and in this way immortal.” Though Vargas Llosa is specifically referring to literary fiction, the same feeling pervades Carl Dennis’s extraordinary thirteenth collection of poems, Night School.
The raw energy within the novel is uncontaminated, fierce, and dedicated toward a singular purpose: to peel back the reader’s eyes and force them to bear witness to the plight of America’s original inhabitants, lest we forget that non-natives are but immigrants or the descendants of immigrants to this country.
“Being alone with our thoughts and feelings is an act of self-possession. In the book, I definitely was exploring the idea that women can find strength in silence, particularly as a refusal to engage with what doesn’t serve them.”