is an American original, a great grandson of Herman Melville, whose intent, like
that of Walter Benjamin, was to write books in which he himself did not write a
word. He incorporates historical and cultural matter, documents of
one kind or another, correspondence, the fiction and poetry of others.
is his subject and while, as Guy Davenport wrote Metcalf’s imagination is
‘oceanic,’ he attends to particulars. Never
more so than when he is quoting, which he does constantly and to maximum effect.
Metcalf does not parse or paraphrase,
He does not tell you what he knows, but points to how he knows it.
He is a man for gists and piths.”
-- William Corbett.
“[For Metcalf] writing is life,
infused with time (rhythm), space (geography and the space of the page) and
history (time), as opposed to the workshop, university writing, the precious
no-risk writing, the language gamers....When will it be that students of
literature will look to the nineteenth century and refer to Melville as the
great-grandfather of Paul Metcalf?”
-- Joe Napora.