The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities

  Number 266

Early Fall 2015

And a Couple that Blew It
We're enamored of history books,
at least ones that are written with grace and pith.
Here are fifteen that
we've reviewed (and liked),
ones that cast a new light on an old subject,
let us see an artfully reconstructed world ---
knowing the best history is refurbished history.
Tales of Remarkable Birds
"Have you noticed the vast decrease
in wild birdsong your neighborhood trees in the morning
lo these past decades? Fewer and fewer songbirds chirping away?
It's happening, on a vast and terrible scale.
Birds are vanishing by the tens,
if not hundreds of millions,
and the culprits are everywhere."

Making Nice
"If you are going to write about a lowlife,
make one the 'hero' of your novel,
should you make him so distasteful that your reader
will be grossed out, will begin to wonder
what's wrong with the author?
Exactly how low should a lowlife be cast?"

Falling in Love with Hominids
"The elephant hovered in the air,
and paddled until it was facing her. It looked at her a moment,
executed a slow backwards flip with a half turn,
then trundled off, wading comfortably through the æther
as though it swam in water."

Dangerous When Wet
"Every time I see myself,
I see not me, but the one that
she and I thought should be me; and,
by transference, the one that I knew I could never be.
Since I can never be the double she demands,
she (and I) must always be unsatisfied,
enmeshed, incomplete."

Hitting the Streets
"If one can experience devotion to wordplay,
then that is certainly what guided me while I spent time
in a punnery translating this book . . .
Above all, I have tried to recreate Queneau's
cavorting tone, which, as Wright wrote, is his translator's
most vital task."

The Meat Racket
"The U.S. Farm Service Administration
backs loans to poultry farmers and pays banks back
when they default. In other words, we're all subsidizing
a churning rotation of bankruptcies that keeps companies like
Tyson supplied with the newest infrastructure and a desperate
labor force."

A Brief History of Portable Literature
" Benjamin and Duchamp
both were vagrants, always on the move,
exiled from the world of art,
collectors weighed down by many things ---
that is, by passions."

H Is for Hawk
"This is the history of a minor delusional mania,
an attempt to come to terms with reality
through a back door.
It could be funny, but this treatment
is resolutely serious, even dolorous,
seen from within the mania,
not from the outside."

Wondering Who You Are
"He's cut off from his memories,
cut off from his preferences, cut off from his beliefs.
He's lost not only his own sense of self but the one we share,
our marriage history, our familial ties,
our community connection, our political and social selves.
Day to day, he can't remember what makes me 'me,'
what makes us 'us.'"

The Cartel
"Winslow has written eloquently
about how America's so-called war on drugs
has been a one trillion dollar catastrophe,
and it's hard to think of it any other way
as you read this book.
The cartels effectively own Mexico now,
and four decades of US military
and government involvement
have only strengthened their power."

Great Reviews of the Past
Emanuel Swedenborg's Journal of Dreams
"Dreams are a part of the brain
communicating with another part of the brain,
an interior movie house, free but without popcorn.
At night, we are allowed to watch the show, the one that
was shot and directed by us."

Isaac Bashevis Singer and the Lower East Side
"She still had her beard and
wore a man's hat and shoes. She immediately
limped over to my table and sat down as if she had an appointment with me.
I wanted to ask Mrs. Pupko why, since her husband is no longer alive,
she had kept her beard, but I remembered her words,
Nu, one musn't know everything."

The Vivisection Mambo --- I

The Vivisection Mambo --- II

The Vivisection Mambo [Spanish Version]

The Refugees and the Picnic
"During that summer,
thousands of visitors from the DDR (East Germany) and
some from Romania had travelled to Hungary,
ostensibly for 'vacation' but actually
in hopes of slipping across the border into Austria.
Many showed up at the Picnic, and about 660
walked across the border, never to return."

Loving One Who Thinks He Has Forgotten You
"The only thing unchanged
is the way he feels upon your skin.
You've got to have some reassurance
that the 'we' that you knew was not altered,
crushed, ruined, deformed;
is not derelict or dead.
His body can give that to you."

God Must Be Woman
"Sebastian, I wish you'd take a bath."
"Kills the personality."
"You were so clean when I first knew you."
"Given up the cleanliness for a life of the spirit.
Preparation for another and better world.
Hardly take offence at a little scruffiness.
Clean soul's my motto.
Take off your nightie."

"I poured a drink and let the water run into the tub
there were 5,000 bars in town
and I'd make 25 of them
looking for Miriam
her purple teddy bear held the note
as he leaned against a pillow
I gave the bear a drink, myself a drink
and got into the hot

Great Poems of the Past
Four in the Morning
"How slowly, coldly, old Time grows,
Where the pigeons smelling of gingerbread,
And the spectacled owls so deeply read,
And the sweet ring-doves of curded milk
Watch the Infanta's gown of silk
In the ghost-room tall where the governante
Gesticulates lente and walks andante."


The Vivisection Mambo
will be published next month.
It consists of 125 poems
of the new Neo-Realist School,
many exposed here
for the first time.
In a starred review, Kirkus called it
A fine anthology of some of
the best contemporary poetry around.

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