Apr/May 2010

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!)

Ann Skea reviews...

My Blood's Country: in the Footsteps of Judith Wright
by Fiona Capp

She paints us pictures of Judith's lands, digs a little into their history, tries to discover their secrets and the meaning they had for Judith and, constantly, she comes back to the poetry. It is this which makes the book satisfying and, for me, meant that I returned to Judith's poetry with a new admiration for her spare, pared back, beautifully crafted art.

The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of his friend Marilyn Monroe
by Andrew O'Hagan

Maf tells us how he was shipped to America by Natalie Wood's mother, spent some time in the Wood's chaotic household, and then was bought by Frank Sinatra as a surprise gift for Marilyn Monroe, because "every girl need a man around the house."

Would You Eat Your Cat?
by Jeremy Stangroom

For philosophers, of course, there is never one clear answer to any moral dilemma, nor are there only three cut-and-dried ways of approaching it. So, simple as this book seems, the questions it poses are often more complex than they appear at first glance.

The Journey of Anders Sparrman: A Biographical Novel
by Per Wastberg

The collection which he sent back to Sweden at the end of his trip was "the largest ever sent from Africa to any country" but his notes on the culinary delights of such things as fried elephant's trunk, rhinoceros flesh and hippopotamus-fat soup, would horrify modern conservationists.

Queen Elizabeth: The Queen Mother
by William Shawcross
When Queen Elizabeth II sent her ninety-three-year-old mother a special stick with a letter saying, "Your daughters and your nieces would very much like you to TRY this walking stick," I knew just how she felt.

Two for Sorrow
by Nicola Upson

Her Josephine Tey is a strong-minded, intelligent and independent woman, dedicated to her work but, now, embroiled in a real-life mystery. Her close friend Archie, who had been a friend of her lover who died during WWI, is now the detective investigating the murder; and his cousins, Lettuce and Ronnie (both women) run a dress-making business which specializes in theatre work. All this provides Upson with varied and fascinating material, as do the various women who frequent the Cowdray Club and the attached College of Nursing and are also involved in the murder investigation.

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...

Break the Glass
by Jean Valentine

Jean Valentine already needed a new poetry. Unbeknownst to her then, she would never stop needing a new poetry, ever less contextual, more fragmented, accepting that it could rescue less and less from the violence of history and finding ways to rescue what it could, progressively filled with more white space.

The Dangerous Shirt
by Alberto Rios

A thousand zen masters whacking us on the back with sticks could never free us to as full a consciousness as the end of the school year once did. But, with the help of this poet, a swarm of ants can bring back to us what being totally alive to the moment is like.

Sex, Nudity, X-Rated, Nascar Racing Crashes, Adorable Kittens
by Various Authors

At the time I'd been writing the first few pages of my review of The Fin-de-Siècle Poem, I had not yet begun to assemble my digital library at Google Books. But while I was mulling over using it as the subject of the third review, for the upcoming issue of Eclectica, between streaming ten-or-so minute segments of James Burke's not-as-ground-breaking-but-pretty-exceptional-nonetheless 1985 science history series, The Day the Universe Changed, on YouTube, in another browser window, and occasionally scanning Facebook in another... um... I had been periodically visiting Google Books in yet another.

Ikeogu Oke reviews...

Red Dust Road
by Jackie Kay

After meeting both parents she seems convinced that she was "made out of love," but also discovers, quite disconcertingly, that they, now very religious people married to different individuals and with children, regard her as an embarrassing evidence of their sinful past which they would rather conceal.

Colleen Mondor reviews...

Dinosaurs Eye To Eye
by John Woodward

This is full on, explosive, knock-you-down-color (and every color you can imagine) along with stripes and feathers and scales of all manner and measure.

Tween Reading, Graphic Style
by Various Authors

This middle grade adventure (the start of a series I'm sure) has everything a kid wants: smart engaging characters who don't fit in, a truly nefarious villain, one incredibly wicked cool clubhouse/hideout (this is the first one I've seen that utterly puts The Three Investigators to shame) and a ton of awesome inventions.

Penelope Schott interviews...

Scot Siegel

I was 16 living in the mountains of California (Squaw Valley), attending a private boarding school, a ski racing academy. I wrote poems while traveling for ski competitions. I don't think anyone knew about this, except my English teacher. I wrote because I was in love with some girl from Oregon, or was it California? Maybe it was the girl who lived upriver with her mother and worked at the deli with me that summer. Or maybe I imagined her.

Ed Southern has a conversation with Joe Mills

Ed Southern and Joe Mills

A year or two out of college, though, I went to a panel discussion about Southern history at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte. At some point on the drive home afterward I embraced, or maybe accepted, being a Southern writer, and realized that what I really wanted to do as a writer was tell the story of my little pocket of the South, and how it came to be the way it is. That's a subject that's still utterly fascinating to me; I don't think I'll ever exhaust it.

Don Capone interviews...

Susan DiPlacido

As for writers having instincts, I can't speak on behalf of an entire group. I don't have catlike instincts at all. I have no idea when an earthquake is coming—in fact, I was in an earthquake a couple years ago and didn't have a freaking clue what was going on. And just last week, there was a mouse in my house, and instead of pouncing with joy, I shrieked like a little girl. As for knowing where to go with a plot or how to develop a character, I guess that's up to readers to decide if I do it pleasingly or not.

Elizabeth Glixman interviews...

Rick Lupert

Influenced by the absurd, the slapstick, the Monty Python, Douglas Adams and Richard Brautigan, various comments, sometimes funny and sometimes surreal, would fall out of my mouth, My writing started as an attempt to archive these observations. I picked up a little journal and starting writing them all down.