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Apr/May 2015

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Reviews & Interviews


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

 

Ann Skea reviews...

A Theft: My Con Man
by Hanif Kureishi
 
Kureishi writes compellingly of the power of his delusion. The way in which he continued to believe this man. The way he liked him and felt sorry for his misfortunes. And the seemingly common power of hope over false belief. "Delusions are two-a-penny," he writes, but it takes a special kind of absurd commitment, akin to that of religious fanatics, to believe the plausible lies of a con man.

The Buried Giant
by Kazuo Ishiguro
 
Telling a story through a narrator who addresses the reader directly ("a Saxon village, viewed from a distance and a certain height would have been something more familiar to you as a village," for example) distances the action.

Granta 130: INDIA: Another Way of Seeing
edited by Ian Jack
 
Amongst the fiction, Arun Kolatkar's "Sticky Fingers" is one of the many Balwant Bua stories he based on "talk sessions" with the eponymous singer raconteur who died in 1974. Balwant Bua talked of human behavior and the life around him, and Kolatkar's story, one of only six which he wrote in English, rather than his native Marathi, beautifully captures Bua's story-telling style and humor.

Vanessa and her Sister
by Priya Parmar
 
Who would have thought that Vanessa, who eventually married fellow artist Clive Bell, would be the first British woman to exhibit her own free-form art, influenced by Picasso, Braque, Matisse and Cezanne, and that her paintings would one day hang in many of the major art museums around the world?

The Hard Problem
by Tom Stoppard
 
And the main issue—the "Hard Problem" as the scientists have begun to call it—is the old mind-body problem which philosophers have grappled with for centuries and for which there is still no universally acceptable answer. This is the problem of consciousness. Can self-awareness, altruism, grief, thought even, be explained by biological processes and an inbuilt necessity to pass on our genes?

 

Greta Bolger reviews...

Chameleon Moon
by Antonia Clark
 
In this artfully arranged collection, the first book-length offering by Antonia Clark, the reader enters a rich world of memory and metaphysics, family and finality, imagination and illusion, lust and love of language.

 

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...

Mid Evil
by Maryann Corbett
 
It would not be much longer before a printer and moveable type would replace the scribe, the publisher replace the monastery. Not much longer, after that, the colophon would generally be moved to the front of the book to serve as a trademark.

Pinholes in the Night
edited by Forrest Gander and Raul Zurita
 
While some 30 pages from Pablo Neruda's "The Heights of Macchu Picchu" or 20 from Cesar Vallejo's "Spain, Take This Cup from Me" may not seem unusual, over 40 pages of Vincente Huidobro's "Altazor" is an uncommon treasure. A new, complete translation of Pablo de Rokha's (nearly 50 page) "The Old Man's Song" is reason enough by itself to consider the anthology a bargain at so modest a price.

Two Kindle books
by Nichole Brandon and Cynthia A. Parker
 
The most effective means of gaming is to buy or exchange five-star customer reviews. This tends to turn the star rating system upside down such that a raft of vague five-star reviews make a book's rating reflect not its quality but its publisher's/author's social network or willingness to buy stars. The fact that a customer need not buy the product in order to post a review also leads to a high level of one-star trolling by way of personal revenge or political attack.

and contemplates...

The season, and other things
 
Now the city has once again returned to the combination of the genteel South, college town, and state capitol surrounded by a crumbling rust belt landscape that gives it a unique personality. As unique, anyway, as it is possible to be in this post-industrial age of omnipresent fast food franchises, Walmart Super Centers, and a public with its collective head down, peering intently into their smartphones as they walk.

 

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