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Jan/Feb 2011

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Reviews & Interviews


(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

 

Ann Skea reviews...

The Empty Family
by Colm Toíbín
 
An air of melancholy and nostalgia pervades many of the stories in Colm Toíbín's latest book. Memories and regret for familiar people and familiar places left behind, for the changes wrought by distance and time, for the awareness of inhabiting "a landscape of endings." Toíbín's great skill is to create these tensions with small brush-strokes which build a picture not just of his narrators, but also of time and place—California, Barcelona, Ireland—all changed.

Tamara Drewe
by Posy Simmonds
 
To say that Tamara's love life is the core of this story, is to miss the richness Posy Simmonds creates around it. Her individual, elegant drawings bring the village and the people to life, and her sense of fun is wonderful. It can be no accident that Dr Glen Larson, "translator (MFA, University of Arkansas, PHD. Columbia, currently Visiting Professor at London Medial University)," and the source of a great deal of the fun in the book, looks just like Bill Bryson. They must be good friends. Or, by now, sworn enemies.

 

Gilbert Purdy reviews...

A Marzipan Factory: New and Selected Poems
by Grzegorz Wróblewski
 
Until the angels appear, there is not a word in the poem that is anything less than humble, quotidian. There is only a vague suggestion, in the opening line, that something is vaguely out of hand: “Watch out for the cars, man — I shouted”. With the arrival of the police a well-known closure is suggested but then suddenly there are the angels.

Dreaming the End of War
by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
 
Anti-war poetry has experienced a resurgence since the build up to the second Iraq war. Perhaps dozens of anthologies have appeared in paper and on the Internet. The sense of revulsion and outrage they express is sincere. The quality of the poetry, in each, however, varies widely, and the premise of hobbling war with poetry could, it seems, only be held by persons so naïve that they could have little to say about the subject worth reading.

 

Colleen Mondor reviews...

Biographies of Famous People
by Various Authors
 
There is mention of Queen Elizabeth and other explorers as well as the questions surrounding Hudson's early life and even what he really looked like. Weaver is up front about what is known and not about her subject which actually makes the book that much more interesting. There's nothing like a mystery to get any ten or twelve year old excited.

 

Kimberly L. Becker interviews...

Shin Yu Pai
 
The smell of "kakishibu" resembles something like wet cat rolled in Parmesan cheese but gradually dissipates over time. The dye color also shifts and changes in tone as part of the aging process. I love these nuances and the sensuality and pleasure of the full reading experience. Until scientists invent smell-o-vision a la Willy Wonka, I don't think that kind of joy can be mechanically replicated.

 

Catherine Treadgold interviews...

Lyn Fuchs
 
My writing habit began when heavy snow sealed me for weeks into a log cabin, amidst the thick timber of Canada's craggy mountains. Life was forever changed. With nothing to do but observe minute details and reflect upon them, I spent silent solitary hours grasping for exact words to convey my experience to others, for when that connection would be restored. Meditations transformed into magazine articles. From eye to mind to pen, the journeys of my life were distilled into the stories that now make up my first book, to the very last one written on an isolated Mexican ranch under a fiery sunset and the influence of tequila.

 

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