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Jan/Feb 2016

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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...

Open Very Carefully
by Nick Bromley and Nicola O'Byrne
 
Try it. Go on, I dare you!

Beside Myself
by Ann Morgan
 
From the very first chapter of the book, however, we know just how badly Helen's life has turned out. It is 25 years later, and she is "Smudge," living in squalor, fueled by cigarettes and alcohol, relying on benefits and hand-outs, supported at times by the Samaritans and plagued by voices in her head.

Carol
by Patricia Highsmith
 
Like young Therese in this novel, Highsmith was dizzily impressed by a rich, distracted blonde customer in a mink coat. Unlike Therese, Highsmith's dizzy response was caused by early symptoms of chickenpox caught from other customers' children, not by sudden, heart-racing symptoms of love.

Ted Hughes: The Unauthorised Life
by Jonathan Bate
 
In his "Deposition" chapter, Bate lays out his own rule for tackling the biography Ted always said should never be written. "The cardinal rule is this: the work and how it came into being is what it is worth writing about, what is to be respected. The life is invoked in order to illuminate the work; the biographical impulse must be at one with the literary-critical."

The Blue Touch Paper: A Memoir
by David Hare
 
Hare describes his childhood as having been shaped by the absence of his father, who was purser on a P&O liner and was away for 11 months of the year, and his mother, who was "intelligent and sensitive" but naturally nervous. His own insecurity and over-sensitivity was shaped, too, by life in suburban Bexhill-On-Sea, where everyone was class-conscious and watchful and critical of their neighbors. His greatest pleasure at that time was to get lost, something which caused no particular distress to anyone else.

 

Jennifer Finstrom reviews...

Each Thing Touches
by Marc Frazier
 
Resulting from these ideas, a main takeaway from the collection for me was that the stories we tell and the words we choose to get them across can bring us together or separate us. In "Getting Over It," a prose poem, the speaker states, "I wanted a secret language like some twins have when they are growing up. I wanted to be in such a closed world with you." This closed world is implied only to be possible if there is a shared—and also secret—language. But how possible can this be?

The Upper Peninsula Misses You
by Mark Magoon
 
This is a book about family and other relationships as well as place, and the language used to describe what is inescapable in the land is used to describe what is inescapable between people as well.

 

Kristie Smeltzer interviews...

Vanessa Blakeslee
author of Juventud
 
The more I researched the history of the guerilla movement and the formation of the cartels and the key incidents on the timeline, both on the Internet and in fairly dense scholarly works, the more riveted I became in telling a story that more truly captures the sociopolitical landscape of Colombia—one that shines a light on the atrocities of the paramilitaries as much as the guerillas and narco-traffickers, and includes the millions of displaced alongside the wealthy.

 

Gilbert Wesley Purdy presents...

A review of John Keats' Endymion: A Poetic Romance by John Wilson Crocker
 
Lockhart was the son-in-law of Sir Walter Scott, far and away the most popular poet of the time. Both men despised the infamous poet-critic Leigh Hunt, Keats' mentor, and their influence was so great that all of the reviews were actually of Hunt's hated ideas and only incidentally of any poet or book that was associated with them.

 

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