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Oct/Nov 2012

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i n t e r v i e w s

Reviews & Interviews


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

 

Ann Skea reviews...

The Dream of the Celt
by Mario Vargas Llosa
 
Few men rise so high, and few sink so low as to be tried for treason and end their lives on the gallows.

The Daylight Gate
by Jeanette Winterson
 
In short, abrupt sentences, and in short, abrupt chapters, Winterson describes the women, their sordid lives, their treatment at the hands of the men who arrest, abuse, and imprison them, and their belief in the powers of the Devil—the Dark Gentleman whose favors they seek through the filthy and disgusting practices of black magic.

Londoners
by Craig Taylor
 
Tourists, immigrants, those who love London and those who hate it; teacher, squatter, Wiccan priestess, hedge-fund manager, currency trader, a couple who live in the Tower of London (try ordering a take-away Pizza from that address!), people in the arts, market traders, nurses, all have a voice in this book.

Buddhaland Brooklyn
by Richard C. Morais
 
Reverend Oda is a likeable character, even in his stolid acceptance of the foibles of his American "Believers." "How could I explain," he comments after meeting Arthur Symes, an elevator-sales magnate, "that increased elevator sales were not proof that Buddhist prayers worked."

The Jaguar's Dream
by John Kinsella
 
Sadly, this turns out to be a book for specialists. If you can understand the Latin titles and fragments of Latin text; if you are very familiar with the stories told by Virgil and Ovid and with the background in which Apollinaire and Tristan Tzara wrote their poems; and if you are happy to look up translations of the works of less well-known poets from Classical times to the 20th Century (most of which are easily available on the Internet), then this book may be for you.

Skios
by Michael Frayne
 
Oliver, in his new identity as Dr. Wilfred, and paper-clipped into his new, rather large, silk underpants, meets and totally charms the Toppler house guests, and in the course of the day is offered various patronships, partnerships, presidencies, and jobs worth many million dollars a year. He is in his element.

Second Chances
by Charity Norman
 
Charity Norman knows from her own experience the emotional turmoil of migration. She writes movingly of the excitement and of the sadness of uprooting yourself from home, family, friends, work, and all that is familiar, to move to a new country at the other end of the world.

Questions of Travel
by Michelle de Kretser
 
From Bali, Laura travels through India and then to London, where she finds that every bridge embodies a sonnet, every monument is iconic, and everything is familiar. "That is what it means to be Australian," she concludes. "You come to London for the first time and discover what you already know."

The One Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared
by Jonas Jonasson
 
There are characters alive and (subsequently) dead, incompetent gangsters, thieves, ne'er-do-wells, baffled police, unexpected plot-twists... and an elephant.

The Misunderstanding
by Irene Nemirovsky
 
Némirovsky's books have only recently been translated from the French, and The Misunderstanding, which was her first novel, displays the sharpness and perception which made her such a success. Above all, it captures the fragile and fleeting nature of happiness.

 

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...

After the Point of No Return
by David Wagoner
 
While Kizer, Wright, and Hugo went to the front of the class, as it were, Roethke recommended Wagoner for a teaching position at the University of Washington. Ensconced in Washington state to this day, he began to familiarize himself with a natural world that had not been available to him, having been born and raised in the industrial Midwest. His days would be filled with teaching and nature and writing poetry and novels there for some 60 years.

A Dance in the Street
by Jared Carter
 
Less embittered than Garland, still Carter would seem to have no closer literary cousin. Edgar Lee Masters came before the flattened affect that would give Midwestern writers' and Carter's characters depth. Carl Sandburg has too much of a naive Midwestern optimism that would be choked to death in the dust bowl experience. While both Garland and Sandburg's populisms are heavily colored by their Socialist creeds, Garland kept his early stories apart from his politics. Carter's populism is unmistakably of the apolitical, common man variety from first to last.

 

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