Sven Birkerts

Sven Birkerts is the editor of AGNI and the author of six books, one of which is a memoir entitled My Sky Blue Trades: Growing Up Counter in a Contrary Time.

Recent Articles

Literature: Kennedy's Quidditas

T here's a law that says you can't write about William Kennedy without invoking William Faulkner or James Joyce, or both, the idea being that if a novelist returns to a place in a number of works over time he is not so much writing books as re-creating history into myth or some such. Fine. Granting the core differences--these are three singular sensibilities with deeply divergent artistic ambitions--we can agree that Kennedy's literary imagination, like those of Faulkner and Joyce, flourishes in the contemplation of character and situation constrained by historical--and therefore, significantly, geographical--particulars. As Joyce did with Dublin and Faulkner with his invented Yoknapatawpha County, so Kennedy has over a number of novels reared up a place in time--Albany, New York, mainly in the first half of the twentieth century--that may host universal human struggles but is not the world writ small; that is, rather, its own unique locale and has, to use a word that Joyce's Stephen...