Named Poetry Book of the Month by The Telegraph
THE GRID is about the end of worlds, ancient and modern. In three sequences of poems interspersed with Mandel’s own translations from classical texts, figures of obsession and loneliness try to decrypt what Maurice Blanchot called ‘the writing of the disaster’. Like a detective novel, the title sequence pieces together archival fragments into a lyric essay about Alice Kober, the half-forgotten scholar behind the decipherment of the ancient writing system called Linear B. Across different wartimes, Mandel adapts the typography and formatting of archived papers, their overlaps and errors and aporias, yielding a collection of what, though sometimes written as prose, turn out to be poems. From Ovid’s bitter letters of exile to the prime minister’s letters of instruction to nuclear submarine captains, THE GRID tells a series of stories about four thousand years of apocalypse. Strange, humane, and deeply rooted in the ancient world, Mandel’s first book surveys the ruins of the West with no nostalgia.
Poetry. Literary Nonfiction. Essay. Hybrid. History.
“A book about reading the unreadable, and seeking meaning where it can’t be found, THE GRID resists neat conclusions and hyperbole in a way that feels true to its subject. […] The deadpan, dreamlike prose-poems – surreal-ish if not surrealist – reminded me of Ian Seed, and of Kafka’s short fables.” — TRISTRAM FANE SAUNDERS, The Telegraph
“Grids hover. Non-directional. A buzz of light, not sound. Disembodied.
Painters muse over the synchrony of grids. Their resistance to time.
As if by miracle THE GRID manages to conjure a body for the grid in the name of Alice Kober, professor of Latin and mistress of classical languages, many long dead. The linearity of Linear B, a script deprived of sound, preserved in the fiery destruction of the Palace of Knossos, defies the synchrony of the grid.
In THE GRID, Eli Payne Mandel emerges from the holocaust of these languages with the tablet of Linear B in his hands.” — ROSALIND E. KRAUSS
Review at The TelegraphExcerpt and Review at Poetry FoundationAuthor Site
Eli Payne Mandel is a poet and psychoanalyst in training. He studied English literature at Yale and Princeton, and has lived most of his life in Brooklyn, New York. His poetry and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in PN Review, New Poetries IX, <>Raritan, The Harvard Review, Ploughshares Solos, The New Inquiry, and elsewhere. THE GRID is his first book.