Jul/Aug 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...

Two Gothic Horror Stories
by Lynne Truss and Lauren Owen

Two gothic horror stories. One by established author Lynne Truss, the other a first novel by Lauren Owen. Both suitably macabre, horrifying, and bloody.

Mr Selden's Map of China: The Spice Trade, A Lost Chart, & The South China Sea
by Timothy Brook

Alerted by a librarian to something of interest in his own field of studies, Timothy Brook found himself looking at a large, very old, beautifully decorated Chinese paper map. It was totally unlike any other Chinese map he had ever seen. It was "perfect," but "it was all wrong."

The Unexpected Professor
by John Carey

Most surprising is that an Oxford don (i.e., a member of a learned, highly civilized but exclusive coterie) should be so genial, chatty, and open as he unfolds his very personal love-affair with English Literature: "how we met, how we got on, what came of it," as he puts it.

Bodies of Light
by Sarah Moss

It is Ally's life we follow in this book, learning first of the rejection and cruelty Elizabeth inflicts on her. Rejection, firstly, because Elizabeth is not prepared to deal alone with the pains, difficulties, and demands of a small baby, and at times she feels guiltily suicidal. Rejection, secondly, because Elizabeth puts the needs of her Welfare Society women before her own and the family's comfort, believing that this is the right, Christian thing to do.

by Lorrie Moore

Only one story left me baffled. It has a sort of existential madness and revolves around a weird visit by three women to the house of a newly dead friend, a ghostly re-appearance, and one woman's bizarre response to it all.

A God in Every Stone
by Kamila Shamsie

Kamila Shamsie begins and ends her novel with Scylax, a Greek explorer who in 515 BCE was sent by the Persian King, Darius, to explore the Indus River. And in Shamsie's sensitive and eloquent telling, it is the lost Fig Circlet of Scylax, a delicate silver headband decorated with fig leaves and fruit, which links the various threads of her story together.

Maryann Corbett reviews...

On the Desire to Levitate: Poems
by Alison Powell

The story's arc is down; the relationship (is it only one?) disintegrates, yet the ache for the high of it, the desire to levitate, persists.

Paul Holler has a conversation with...

David Shumate

A reader can easily perceive Mr. Shumate's "partnership with silence" in many of his more meditative poems. But the prose poem also has a long tradition of presenting ironic, even humorous images. Many of his poems reflect that tradition. In a poem entitled "Kafka," for instance, a man awakes one morning to find that he has morphed into Franz Kafka.

Gilbert Wesley Purdy reviews...

Darkened Rooms of Summer: New and Selected Poems
by Jared Carter

Carter's work deserves more attention, indeed. As is so often the fate even of exceptional poets, his work wasn't flashy enough to establish a Carter brand. His books appeared at long intervals. In spite of early awards, the momentum was eventually lost.

and muses about...

Becoming The Virtual Vanaprastha

It is a rich life. Add an apartment and computer filled with the greatest books from every major field, a bathroom hamper laden with a copy of a biography of Lytton Strachey (at the moment) and a recent copy of Wired magazine (always), and maybe it is even worth following along a bit after you've watched your limit of twerking videos.