Jul/Aug 2008

e c l e c t i c a   r e v i e w s  & 
i n t e r v i e w s

Reviews & Interviews

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

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...

Days of Creativity: A Collection of Poems by Jon Norman
edited by James Stidfole

However much Jon Norman, returned to a decidedly middle-class New England town, sought to transition toward a more recognizably contemporary "poetic" style, the influence of Bob Dylan's song lyrics remained supreme. Among the finer poems in Days of Creativity is a late poem, not, in fact, completed in time to be included in either of the chapbooks. The poem "Workin' on the Bomb Squad" is an unabashed Dylan-esque romp.

Our Flying Objects and These Extraordinary People
by Grzegorz Wroblewski

The six-line lyric "Jan Hansen's Father," which appears in both Our Flying Objects and These Extraordinary People, leaves Dada behind while it keeps the pathos and lyricism. The result is a truly exceptional poem, the kind of hidden gem that one aimlessly leafs through ponderous anthologies hoping to stumble upon.

Quote Poet Unquote
by Dennis O'Driscoll

O'Driscoll himself prefers to think of his book as "a commonplace book: a contemporary compilation, not a canonical work of reference." The reader may choose her or his own preferred label. Call it what he or she will, I suggest, so long as they call it a book on their shelf.

Ann Skea reviews...

by John Burnside

Local youths roam the crumbling, empty buildings of the chemical plant. There are rumours of deformed animals on the shore and in the waters around it. And most disturbing of all, five teenage boys, including Leonard's best friend, have vanished. Everyone suspects that they have been murdered but no-one is willing to talk about that: the conveniently accepted story, instead, is that the boys each ran away from home.

Urthona: Issue 25
by various authors

The continued existence of myth in every culture attests to the attraction of mythological stories and suggests that there is some common, deeply felt satisfaction in them. Psychologists like Jung see myths as reflecting valuable truths about human nature and about the sorts of worlds we create for ourselves.

Kajsa Wiberg reviews...

Moonlight Downs: An Emily Tempest Investigation
by Adrian Hyland

The plot, for starters, is of the brilliant, super-tight type where no event, however small, lacks consequence or meaning. Rest assured that the single mother Emily runs into at a basketball game is tied to the murder in a way you never would have guessed; that the old friend she encounters in a shop will save her butt at some point; and that there's a reason the gang that smashes her apartment dumps her books about rocks in the john.

Colleen Mondor reviews...

Hubert's Freaks
by Gregory Gibson

Hubert's Freaks is partly about a mid-twentieth century freakshow known as Hubert's—a place managed by an African American performer named Charlie Lucas and featuring a host of colorful and well-traveled characters. It is also about how Arbus came to know Charlie and the Hubert's performers and photographed them at work and at play, eventually becoming a friend to Charlie and his wife, another performer at the show.

Reasonable Doubts and The Streets of Babylon
by Gianrico Carofiglio and Carina Burman, respectively

She is so totally Amelia Peabody as a Swedish novelist that I really could hardly contain my joy.

Nonfiction Picture Books
by various authors

This book is a classic sleeper—it's not as flashy as many picture books, but it is significant and should not be overlooked. An absolute must-read for block builders and construction mavens; The House That Max Built is one of my favorite picture book reads this year.

Summer Reading for the Under 10 Crowd
by various authors

The whole thing is classic 1930s Saturday-serial fun and flies by, just as it should. It's partly crazy (we are talking about monkeys involved in a battle to control their own government) but also has cool science, a pterodactyl and killer owls. The color illustrations on every page are detailed and precise, adding an extra element of pseudo-authenticity to the story. This is a series with a definite vintage feel to it, and I mean that as a high compliment.

Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner interview...

John Warner and Kevin Guilfoile
co-authors of My First Presidentiary

I don't know if Ian McEwan has ever used this excuse, but my latest novel has taken so long because of potty training. Not mine, I mean, but my son's. Potty training kicked my ass. If you had told me five years ago that the hardest part of raising a son would be convincing him that he doesn't have to sit in his own feces I'd have said you were nuts.

Tania Hershman interviews...

Vanessa Gebbie
author of Words from A Glass Bubble

This brings up a number of interesting points for me about your own stories. You talk about the sidewaysness (a great word!) and the originality of structure. What I noticed reading through all your stories together is that they are not "about" what they seem to be "about."

Maryanne Stahl interviews...

Donna George Storey
author of Amorous Woman

In the meantime, I've realized there is another important reason I write erotica. While mainstream fiction is well-supplied with talented writers, literary erotica is in its infancy as a genre. Our society is still very uncomfortable with writing that aims to stimulate the mind as well as the lower regions.

Kathryn Koromilas interviews...

Jai Clare
author of The Cusp of Something

OK, so what about fiction in general? When stories get to the cusp of something, where exactly do they get to? The cusp of something is the edge of things, the something is often unknown, unfathomable and maybe unreachable.

Cicily Janus interviews...

Jennifer McMahon
author of Island of the Lost Girls

Being the Easter Bunny was a little bizarre—you're in this big, hot costume, not speaking, peeking out through mesh eyes while you hand balloons and candy out to kids. And the kids, for the most part, just love you. It could be anyone inside, but the kid's just see the Easter Bunny and get all excited.