Apr/May 2014

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...

The Song of King Gesar: A Novel
by Alai, translation by Howard and Lin

The epic of King Gesar is said to date from the 12th century or earlier. Hundreds of versions have been collected and written, and it is reputed to be the longest ancient epic poem in existence. The first English translation was published in the 18th century, and one 20th century Han Chinese abridged version runs to forty volumes.

Terms & Conditions
by Robert Glancy

This gimmick is essentially part of the story, since Frank Shaw, our narrator, is a corporate lawyer who specializes in the small-print Terms & Conditions on legal contracts. He is, he tells us, on one of the bottom rungs of his business: "...the legal equivalent of the guy who sweeps up the hair in a barber's shop."

GRANTA 126: Do You Remember
edited by Sigrid Rausing

Other peoples' reminiscing can be fascinating or boring, but I found the great variety of offerings in this particular issue of Granta thoroughly entertaining.

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History
by Elizabeth Kolbert

The golden frog and many other amphibian species are now extinct in the wild, and amphibians are currently the world's most endangered species. Should that worry us? Yes, says Kolbert. Extinction takes place very rarely in geological time and usually very slowly.

The Wives of Los Alamos
by TaraShea Nesbit

For their wives, the move meant an almost complete loss of identity and purpose. They left their homes, jobs, parents, family, friends, social networks, and connections, to move, initially, to an unknown location.

The Girl with a Clock for a Heart
by Peter Swanson

Poor, smitten George decides to investigate further. He is beaten up by the real Audrey's ex-boyfriend and a pal; discovers the "real" name of his girlfriend; is beaten up again by a strange man when he tries to contact her; and learns that his girl is now a criminal wanted by the police for murder... possibly even two murders. You would think that would be enough to cool any man's ardor.

Phillip Larrimore reviews...

The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum
by Temple Grandin and Richard Panek

The Autistic Brain, Grandin's latest book, is best read as a series of dispatches on the state of the latest research on autism in its first chapters, as a continuation of her model of the types of intelligence in its middle, and as a useful manual for people with autism or Asperger's syndrome as its conclusion. It is both a firsthand account and a report from the larger front.

and remembers...

George and Mary Oppen

Never before had I talked with adults 50 years older than myself with such candor, and parting from them at nightfall, I reflected on the irony of having been interviewed myself. (Many years later, I heard from Paul Auster that much the same thing happened to him when he went to interview them for Paris Review).

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...

Happy Life and While We've Still Got Feet
by David Budbill

Then there's the complexity that we carry within us wherever we go. As Budbill's poetry makes clear, the human heart still has its issues for a quasi-hermit poet.

by Grzegorz Wroblewski

Wroblewski has since come up in the world. While coming up in the poetry world is still a decidedly humble "up," he has found translators and his work been widely published in English. He is regularly included among the lists of the better Polish poets. He has just completed a reading tour in London and is about to begin another in New York and Massachusetts.

and interviews...

Grzegorz Wroblewski
author of Kopenhaga

For me painting is a deliberate activity. I always work outside my apartment. When I'm painting or preparing an exhibition, I don't write, I concentrate exclusively on the visual art.

and discusses...

Streaming the Revolution

Seeing the center of a major city in flames is a rush, at first. Within seconds, of course, it dawns on one that lives are in danger. This is not an apocalyptic Hollywood blockbuster movie, no matter how much it might appear to be. The apocalypse is real. Real people are dead.