Oct/Nov 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...

The Shadow of Sirius
by W. S. Merwin

What, then, is the twin shape of human passion, human life force? What is, at the same time, its absence? It's shadow? The temptation may be to answer "memory," and it is as good a word as any, but, if a single word would suffice, the title The Shadow of Sirius would be purely ornamental and the poems either tangential or sentimental. There is no single word.

Ann Skea reviews...

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
by Mary Ann Shaffer

By the end, one might be forgiven for thinking that Guernsey is peopled with eccentric herbalists making witchy potions, amiable alcoholics drinking their way through their former employer's wine cellar, starchy matrons, and fishermen who concoct bizarrely inventive meals, all of whom write unusually interesting letters, but since we only meet a handful of the 1400, or so, inhabitants we could well be mistaken.

The Collector of Worlds
by Iliya Troyanov, translation by William Hobson

Burton was clearly an amazing man whose life contained so much unusual, dangerous, fascinating and often bizarre adventure that Troyanov had plenty of material for this novel. But it is not just Burton's life we learn about.

Niranjana Iyer reviews...

The Pakistani Bride
by Bapsi Sidhwa

When not united by the bond of sisterhood (their eyes meet "in an age-old communion—an understanding they shared of their vulnerabilities as women"), the two women are inevitably separated by a Cultural Divide.

The Florist's Daughter
by Patricia Hampl
I never felt the need to travel to the Midwest until I read this book. Hampl makes St. Paul, where she has lived all her life, simultaneously transparent and mysterious; this author's particular skill lies in transmuting the ordinary into something layered and profound without ever losing sight of its essential ordinariness.

Uche Peter Umez reviews...

Dog Eat Dog
by Niq Mhlongo

Dog Eat Dog explores how one man's quest to sustain a lie ultimately pays off, but not without "potholes." It is a story of integration as much as it is of alienation and disentanglement; the character wants to distance himself from the township of alienation he was born into; as far as possible avoid the "ghetto's unbalanced diet." It reminds one of a Spike Lee movie.

Colleen Mondor reviews...

Fall Books for the Little Ones
by Various Authors

This is a book that heavily and heartily salutes the working man and the age in which he was revered. It belongs in rust belt libraries for sure but should be shared far beyond that geographic region if only to remind readers of a time when America appreciated a man for a solid day's work, rather than celebrating him solely for the size of his car and width of his television set.

The Salisbury Manuscript
by Philip Gooden

As likeable as Tom is though, and as much as the reader will want to follow his exploits, it is the relationship between Tom and Helen that truly makes the story sing. Although they are not quite in Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane territory, it is clear by the final pages that they are well on their way.

Political Books for Teens
by various authors

The group of soldiers, strangers in the first chapter, quickly become friends which makes inevitable losses that much more difficult. Birdy grows beyond his initial idealism and confidence to question not only the dubious orders of his superiors but the larger issue of the overall U.S. mission. Just as countless soldiers have done before him, he hates the enemy for killing his friends while also finds himself questioning just who the enemy is.

Donna George Storey interview...

Xujun Eberlein
author of Apologies Forthcoming

Of course writing in English has been a great challenge to me, given how far apart the two languages are. But sometimes a writer's choice of language is not the language alone. When I made the decision to write in English, I had the impulse to add an objective voice that is lacking in the existing English literature about China. Americans tended to view China and Chinese life in black-and-white, but the reality is not, and never was, like that.

Alan C. Baird interviews...

CJ Hurtt

I listen to the artist when it comes to layout, camera angles, and actions. I see my job as plot and dialogue. The artist is the expert on visual storytelling. But sometimes an artist has a really good idea when it comes to my end of things and vice versa. It's always a collaboration.

Elizabeth P. Glixman interviews...

Jayne Pupek
author of Tomato Girl

I feel an obligation not to leave a reader in "a bad place." That said, there is great beauty in dark and terrible places, and a lot to be learned there. Considering the type of work I've done, I'm not sure I would be a very authentic person if I didn't write about dark subjects.

Scott Malby reviews...

Five Lit Sites—Quick and Dirty

One of the most significant intellectual trends of the early 21st century is the exponential transfer of entertainment, information, and yes, literary resources to an electronic format. The rise of numerous literary international communities has resulted and in terms of literary arts, the current age may well come to be known as the Age of the Internet.