Oct/Nov 2011

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...

Machiavelli's Lawn
by Mark Crick

Machiavelli, who humbly introduces this book to "the magnificent reader," tells us that it offers the learning, knowledge, and worthiness of "great gardeners and plantsmen." He also instructs us, later, "On The Art of Mowing."

The Cat's Table
by Michael Ondaatje

This voyage is to be an education for him in many ways, but Ondaatje's book is not just a rite-of-passage story, it is a wonderful recreation of a boy's perceptions and of what it is like to be an eleven-year-old with almost unlimited freedom from normal adult supervision.

Dante in Love
by A. N. Wilson

Dante in Love is handsomely presented and beautifully illustrated, but I finished reading it almost as confused about Dante's world and about the often obscure references in his poetry as I ever was. Partly, this is because Dante lived in very confusing times. Mostly, I think, it is because A. N. Wilson (who describes himself as "no Dante scholar") has tried to pack too much into this book.

Dennis Kaplan reviews...

Then We Came to the End and Personal Days
by Joshua Ferris and Ed Park, respectively

The workers incorporated in Ferris's "we" are not portrayed as victims. They are too sophisticated for that—ever aware that they are better off than most and that they have been in full control of their choices. But this does not stop them from feeling trapped, a frequent topic of their ruminations.

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...

Fall Higher
by Dean Young

Whatever the reason, most of the poems in this volume—the many that resoundingly succeed as well as those that may seem "mediocre imitations"—suggest that Young felt the need to say more than he has in past volumes. If the poems of the first forty pages can be characterized, they are uncharacteristically discursive. Young's delightful mania is muted, controlled, called upon to do yeoman's work in the service of very definite messages.

Colleen Mondor reviews...

Coffee Table Books
by various authors

When you see Greta Binford, biologist and arachnologist (!), crawling around in the dark corners of a Dominican Republic marketplace on the hunt for her spiders, the image of staid desk-riding scientist stuck peering over a microscope (although Binford does plenty of that, too) is completely blown.

Kimberly L. Becker interviews...

Shawn Crowe

The history of how the Cherokee became who they are and where they are, is told in these stories.

Ellen Meister interviews...

Myfanwy Collins

I started thinking about the type of women I wanted to write about—those I grew up with. Tough, ingenious, surviving women. I thought of my mother—a beautiful woman who lost her breast to cancer. After her mastectomy she might have found herself disfigured or weak, but really it only made her stronger and more beautiful.

Melissa Studdard interviews...

M. Scott Craig

Do I really want to be with this person? Is there a future? Do I really like their hair? Isn't their nose crooked? I don't like their shoe and belt collection. Is that a deal-breaker? Why haven't I met many of their friends yet? Couldn't this person kiss just a little better? Why would I want to be with someone who farts in their sleep? Well, hell, I fart in my sleep, so what's the big deal? Do they still wear pajamas? Why am I being hesitant?

Phillip F. Clark interviews...

Bryan Borland

There have been times when Christopher (my husband) hasn't been comfortable with something "going public," if you will, but those times are few and far between. I believe Mark Doty has said that he doesn't truly experience something until he writes about it. I can relate to Mr. Doty on this account.