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Jan/Feb 2013

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Reviews & Interviews


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

 

Ann Skea reviews...

The Jewels of Paradise
by Donna Leony
 
If you are an academic researcher, you may warm to the daily work of Dottoressa Pellegrini as she investigates the contents of two ancient chests that once belonged to bishop/composer/possible castrato, Agostino Steffani.

Country Girl: A Memoir
by Edna O'Brien
 
The new house had pretensions—two avenues, big lawns shaded by ancient trees, and bay windows—but it owed some of its stylishness to houses her mother, who came from a poor family, had seen whilst working as a maid in America.

Cézanne: A Biography
by Alex Danchev
 
Danchev is clearly an art expert, and he is very familiar with the world in which Cézanne lived and painted. But he often expects the reader to know as much about that Paris art scene and the artists and dealers involved in it as he does. Some names (Monet, Manet, Ronoir, for example) are very well-known, some (like Achille Emperaire) much less so.

The Lighthouse
by Alison Moore
 
Futh is, above all, ordinary. He is unassertive, has rather limited social skills, and always inspects the escape routes from his hotel rooms in case of fire. His talisman, which he always keeps with him, is a silver lighthouse that once housed a bottle of his mother's violet-scented perfume.

Swimming Home
by Deborah Levy
 
Kitty herself is an enigma. She is a copper-haired botanist with green fingernails, a poet, an attractive young woman who favors walking around naked—and a disturbed and disturbing presence.

The Robber of Memories: A River Journey through Columbia
by Michael Jacobs
 
Michael Jacobs' journey to the source of the Magdalena River in Columbia is a record of his travels, but it is also about memory and loss—about history, conflict, disappeared people, and about personal experiences of loss.

 

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...

Elegies: with Parallel Latin Texts (Oxford World's Classics) by Tibullus
translated by A. M. Juster
 
Among the most desired lovers were the sons of wealthy families who had been left behind as too young or otherwise unfitted for war. As young men they had certainly been sent to school in Rome, and, almost as certainly, to finishing school in Athens or Alexandria, where many primarily studied Greek poetry. In short, they were highly polished and sometimes even possessed of access to considerable wealth.

Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom
by Sung Po-Jen, translated by Red Pine
 
In Porter's introduction to the Guide, we learn how the sole copy of the 1261 edition managed to survive the Mongol conquest of China and the ravages of time until "the famous collector and book connoisseur Huang P'i-lieh" came upon it, in 1801, at the Wentsui Bookstore, in the Peking antique market.

 

Matthew Ross reviews...

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
by Ben Fountain
 
Though Karl Marlantes's cover blurb trumpets the book as "The Catch-22 of the Iraq War," Slaughterhouse-Five might be the more apt comparison. Fountain's broad satire of the civilian world's myriad reactions to the Bravos has more in common with Vonnegut's ironic sense of humanism than Heller's attack on military bureaucracy.

 

Elizabeth P. Glixman interviews...

Paul Hostovsky
poet and author of Hurt Into Beauty
 
So where do poems come from? They come from the earth. They rise up from the earth, like mist, the way we do. And they disappear like mist. The way we will. Though sometimes they outlive us.

 

Bharat Iyer interviews...

Arvind Krishna Mehrotra
poet, anthologist, literary critic and translator
 
The tragedy is that despite there being hundreds of English departments in Indian colleges and universities and thousands of PhD-armed English teachers, there are very few, if any, whose voices are heard in the wider cultural world, or who are known for some authoritative work they may have done in a specialized field.

 

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