are they thinking? Why are they there? Perhaps no figures
evoke those questions more often than the thought-haunted spectres
created by the great American realist painter Edward Hopper (1883-1968).
Whether sitting forlornly in a New York City automat or mulling
solitarily in the side-aisle of one of its Broadway theaters ormost
famouslystaring over a cup of coffee in a near-empty diner,
Hoppers subjects have their stories, melancholy stories one
is usually inclined to guess.
Rolando Perezs imagination has been so taken by Hopper
that he has just published The Lining of Our Souls: Excursions
into Selected Paintings of Edward Hopper (Cool Grove). Assistant
Professor Perez, a Hunter College librarian and bibliographer, has
created this collection of a dozen prose poems, each based
upon one of Hoppers characteristic paintings and drawings.
The title Perez has chosen can be explained by quoting the last
paragraph of his prose poem devoted to Hoppers Hotel
Room, painted in 1931 and now in the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza
in Madrid: She wont sleep tonight. She will remain as
suitcases unpacked. She will return in the morning
to what? And then? The letter will never change. The end. What changes
is the lining of our souls.
Offering a foreword to the book is leading Hopper scholar Gail Levin,
a professor of art history at Baruch College and author of Edward
Hopper: An Intimate Biography.
Perez is a native of Cuba and the author of another volume based
on the work of an artist, Bruno Schulz, who was also a noted writer
and died in a Nazi concentration camp in 1942. Perezs work
will be included in the forthcoming Norton Anthology of Latino Literature