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Apr/May 2019

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Reviews & Interviews


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

Ann Skea reviews...
 

Lanny
by Max Porter

The first shock to the reader is meeting Dead Papa Toothwort as he "wakes from his standing nap an acre wide and scrapes off dream dregs of bitumen glistening thick with liquid globs of litter." He is exactly what his name implies—a devouring, parasitic, root of the earth. He lives in the woods and fields and shape-shifts through the village, feeding on its detritus, its small deaths, its sounds, smells, and gossip.
 

The Orchardist's Daughter
by Karen Viggers

Now that her parents are dead and the farm has been sold to pay off debts, her brother, Kurt, acts as her guardian. Together, they run a fish-and-chip shop, the only one in their small town, but Kurt is even more controlling than her parents had been. He supervises her every encounter with customers, keeps the accounts to himself (although Miki is adept at adding up the profits in her head) and locks her in the house whenever he goes out.
 

The Wall
by John Lanchester

The Change is the reason the Wall was built. And it was built to keep out the Others: those whose lands have been inundated by rising sea levels. Those whose countries are no longer habitable. The Wall now surrounds England, and it has to be defended.
 

Improvement
by Joan Silber

Boyd clearly loves Reyna and Oliver, but things change quickly when Boyd's friends begin to make money by running illegal cigarettes from Virginia to sell on the black market in Manhattan. Reyna's decision not to get involved has disastrous consequences for Boyd's friends and for her.
 

Esther
by Jessica North

Boyd clearly loves Reyna and Oliver, but things change quickly when Boyd's friends begin to make money by running illegal cigarettes from Virginia to sell on the black market in Manhattan. Reyna's decision not to get involved has disastrous consequences for Boyd's friends and for her.
 

Peter Amos discusses...
 

Mr. Sammler's Planet and Cognitive Dissonance

I read 1984 and Animal Farm in high school but passed on George Orwell's essays until ten years later. Those two most famous of his books illuminate the destructive power of government, socialism, demagoguery, and surveillance. Countless readers draw from them conclusions about the author's politics; namely that he was anti-socialist and skeptical of government. But his politics, revealed in his enormous body of nonfiction, were richly complex, contradictory and varied.
 

Carole Mertz reviews...
 

Fool
by Judy Swann

These rhyme-less poems are beautiful in their literary references, in evocations of popular songs, in language allusions that bespeak the poet's broad knowledge, that let the sounds come to us through the occasional Latin, French, Persian, and Portuguese, and even in "baby-talk."
 

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...
 

The Mays of Ventadorn
by W. S. Merwin

Thoughtful, discursive books on the relation between life, lands and the distant cultures no longer issue from the press in small numbers to grace publishers' winter catalogues like they once did. The educated amateur who once wrote them has surrendered his or her portfolio. Reflection can be impossibly difficult to manage in a world of unceasing distraction.
 

So Far So Good
by Ursula K. Le Guin

Like most volumes of poetry written by writers from science-related genres, the poems here are almost entirely unschooled. There is no sign of abandon. The best among such writers tend to be strikingly simple in their beauty, but it is the beauty of the world they observe rather than themselves.
 

and discusses...
 

Just Another Day and W. S. Merwin
 
At least I'm doing some little bit of something I love, I tell myself. But then something else occurs like William Stanley Merwin dying. I race to end the day early and to write something worth having said about his work, his life. Failing today, I envision how I will steal the time from tomorrow's endless hamster-run. Failing tomorrow, I envision the day after.
 

 

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