Chang, director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and author of Hunger and Inheritance, sticks close to home as she follows Roman Morris from his days as an M.F.A. student in the late 1980s to his soaring career as a published poet, tenured professor, and Pulitzer Prize winner. Unfortunately, the book lends credence to the clichés that plague modern poets and the institutions that foster them: wine-fueled workshops are held by candlelight, and Roman's fantasies about his talented, beautiful, and aloof workshop professor lead to a student-teacher affair. Roman's eventual success brings out his resentment of the academy and its favoritism and politics, but this is a work of fiction, and the championing of creative writing programs should not be its cause. In Chang's hands, the world of poetry is a cliché; instead of a novel, she delivers a case study of the modern poet with little bearing in reality and characters as one-dimensional as the premise. While the language is well crafted, readers may be disappointed by the lack of quality storytelling. (Sept.)
Starred Review: Among the many threads Chang elegantly pursuesthe fraught relationships between mentors and students, the value of poetry, the price of ambitionit is her indelible portrait of the loneliness of artistic endeavor that will haunt readers the most in this exquisitely written novel about the poet’s lot.
All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost offers a starkly honest portrait of people caught up in the drive to write and of the personal bargains and self-deceptions that such an ambition can entail. Lan Samantha Chang was brave to write this book, to turn her novelist's eye onto a world she knows intimately, and her bravery pays off in the unflinching final scenes.”
What a lovely, fierce book about love, betrayal, loss, and time’s dominion over us all. Fleet, preternaturally attuned to the ebb and flow of personal history, All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost is, well, unforgettable. Lan Samantha Chang sees deeply into her characters, right down to their souls, but she wields her intelligence with the compassion of a master.”
Lucy, Roman, Bernard, and Miranda are characters you won’t soon forget. In their passionate, demanding, wrecked, and joyous literary lives, they thrive on their belief in language’s absolute authority. This deeply affectingand elegantnovel by Lan Samantha Chang definitely offers what Leonard Cohen calls his whole career in song: All day and night, versions of the erotic. I wish I could live long enough to discover this novel in an attic trunk a hundred years in the future, and exclaim, so this is what ‘poetic education’ really meant.
Miranda Sturgis is a genius professor of poetry at a renowned writing school who "bludgeons" her students with her critiques; she is cold, aloof, distant, and elusive. Yet Roman remains haunted by Miranda long after their grad-school affair, even as he, too, becomes a professor and an award-winning poet. In this melancholy tale of love, loss, and loneliness ultimately emphasizing that the cost of real literary success is a lonely life, author Chang (Inheritance) mines a world familiar to her: she is herself a University of Iowa English professor and director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Despite the subject matter, there is little actual poetry to this book, but, through his sublime reading, narrator Ramón De Ocampo manages to poeticize it. Those liking Muriel Barbery's Elegance of the Hedgehog, also available from HighBridge Audio, may enjoy. ["With her simple, elegant style, Chang achieves a clarity that few writers accomplish," read the review of the Norton hc, LJ 8/10.—Ed.]—Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix P.L.
De Ocampo artfully moves the well-written novel forward. Chang’s thought-provoking novel translates well to audio.”
“Sublime reading [by] narrator Ramón De Ocampo.”