Cory Oldweiler at the LARB:
Haven draws on a compendious knowledge of her subject, having mused on and written about Miłosz for more than 20 years. She met with the man himself on two occasions in early 2000, visits that turned out to be his last interviews in the United States, and since then she has talked with his translators, including Robert Hass, Lillian Vallee, and Peter Dale Scott; his family, including his son, Anthony, and his brother-in-law, Bill Thigpen; and his friends, including Mark Danner, who purchased Miłosz’s longtime home on Grizzly Peak. She has also edited two prior volumes on Miłosz, one collection of interviews and one of essays; has penned dozens of blog posts relating to him on her fecund website, The Book Haven; and has written numerous articles about him, including a 2013 essay for Quarterly Conversation entitled “Miłosz as California Poet,” which can be read as an urtext for A California Life.
That essay opens in the winter of 1948–’49, with Miłosz sitting in a canoe on a Pennsylvania river, waiting for beavers and contemplating defecting to the United States, as one does.