R  A  L  P H
  The Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy and the Humanities

Special 100th Issue

Best Readings
1994 - 2003

In each issue we try to select readings drawn from those books we've just reviewed, as well as some favorites.

These brief selections should give a feeling for the style of the author --- something a brief review could never accomplish on its own.

We've chosen here fifteen that are we feel are works of art in themselves.

Laurie Lee
His death killed that promise, and also ended her reason. The mellow tranquillity she had latterly grown forsook her then forever. She became frail, simpleminded, and returned to her youth, to that girlhood which had never known him. She never mentioned him again, but spoke to shades, saw visions, and then she died.

The Tijuana Titanic
Carlos Amantea
The Titanic should be setting sail shortly, and I hope to be on board at the launching. The grand ship, filled with lights and music and glamour, setting sail to another Byzantium. The hundreds of us in our tuxedos and formal gowns, so elegant, there in the first class ballroom, holding our glasses of 1911 vintage Champagne, with the band playing "Just a Bird in a Gilded Cage" and "Casey Did Dance with the Strawberry Blonde."

Dirty Artists & The Clean Rich
Joyce Cary
What I like about the rich is the freedom and the friendliness. Christian atmosphere. Liberty hall. Everything shared because there is too much. All forgiveness because it's no trouble. Drop their Dresden cups on the fireplace and they smile. They are anxious only that you should not be embarrassed, and spoil the party. That's their aim. Comfort and joy. Peace on earth. Goodwill all round....For of course the rich do find it hard to get through the needle's eye, out of heaven. And to spend all your life in paradise is a bit flat. Millionaires deserve not only our love but our pity. It is a Christian act to be nice to them.

Two Hundred Horse-Power Cheeses
Jerome K. Jerome
The remaining four passengers sat on for a while, until a solemn-looking man in the corner who, from his dress and general appearance, seemed to belong to the undertaker class, said it put him in mind of dead baby; and the other three passengers tried to get out of the door at the same time, and hurt themselves.

A Brief History of Mexico
J. Gallant, L. Milam
Although the Spaniards were outnumbered 100 to 1, their sound system easily drowned out their opponents' marimbas, and the Aztecs fled in disarray. Quacktemoc was left a helpless prisoner of the Spaniards, and they forced him to listen to their lyrics until he begged for mercy and offered to fill the entire hall with Acapulco Gold. Overcome with gratitude, Cortex converted the Aztec king to Christianity on the spot, and then garroted him. After this, the Aztecs revolted, but it was too late, and Cortex and his band conquered all of Mexico from Gotamala in the south, Walla Walla to the north, and as far east as Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe.

The Year They Tried to Block the Deputy
Warren Hinckle
At 10:58 he announced that nobody was coming. I got a drink for myself before they took the booze away. At 11:03 A.M. the walls melted. There were suddenly hundreds of people piling electronic gear into the room; within five minutes there was standing room only, the food was gone, and we had sent down for more drink. The straight New York press had arrived en masse, but apparently my last telegram had flushed out a heavy representation from the journalistic hedgerows. A Daily News photographer told me this was the biggest Press conference he'd seen since the last time Adlai Stevenson conceded. "How come so many people are interested in this guy?" he asked, pointing with his strobe at Keating. "The guy's running for Pope," I said.

Boy Meets Gull
S. J. Perelman
The first couple of days out of the Golden Gate were uneventful. I spent them stretched out in the lower tier of my double berth, gritting my teeth to prevent my tongue from escaping and making a minute study of the plywood ceiling above me. Approximately every fifteen seconds, the Marine Flier rose with the speed of express elevator, shivered deliciously, and lurched steeply forward into the trough. As it reached the bottom of the curve, all the bureau drawers flew out, the locker doors opened, suitcases slid halfway out of the top bunk, and our toilet articles teetered toward the washbowl. The moment the ship began its ascent, the process reversed; with a salvo like the bombardment of Port Arthur, drawers and doors banged shut, suitcases smashed into the wall, and bottles splintered the shaving mirror.

Captain Hook
Carlos Amantea
By late in the afternoon, Fred would be drunk, cat-calling the women, offering to fight any man. Sooner or later he would pass out, pissing himself, in front of the market, or on the beach. The Friends of Puerto Perdido, a local do-good bunch of gringoes, would take up a collection every few years to ship him off to the veterans hospital in San Antonio to dry him out, but sooner or later, Fred would be back, pissing himself in the town square, offering to fight any man in the world, howling at the ladies.

Chas. Bukowski
He pushed the electric needle into my back. I was being drilled. The pain was immense. It filled the room. I felt the blood run down my back. Then he pulled the needle out.
"Now we're going to get another one," said the doctor.
He jammed the needle into me. Then he pulled it out and jammed it into a third boil. Two other men had walked in and were standing there watching. They were probably doctors. The needle went into me again.
"I never saw anybody go under the needle like that," said one of the men.
"He gives no sign at all," said the other man.
"Why don't you guys go out and pinch some nurse's ass?" I asked them.
"Look, son, you can't talk to us like that!"
The needle dug into me. I didn't answer. "The boy is evidently very bitter."

The Worm Who Came To Dinner
Gordon MacCreagh
But alas! the poor thing never recovered from that cruel hypodermic stab. It died on the scientist's hands. Had it lived, he told me, he might have named it after me as its discoverer and importer. It was a pity. For it was a beautiful thing --- so said the scientist. An inch and three quarters long it was, of a slimy white consistency, of slender pear shape, and armed with no less than three rows of wicked black, curved hooks. Personally, I didn't admire it as much as did the scientist --- and when be said that all he wanted for his fee was the corpse, I was glad enough to give it to him. And he bandaged up my leg very nicely, too.

Meet General Grant
H. L. Mencken
He was not, in point of fact, a man of any great competence, even as a soldier. All the major strategy of the war, including the final advance on Richmond, was planned by other men, notably Sherman. He was a ham as a tactician, and habitually wasted his men. He was even a poor judge of other generals, as witness his admiration for Sheridan and his almost unbelievable underrating of Thomas and Meade. If he won battles, it was because he had the larger battalions, and favored the primitive device of heaving them into action, callously, relentlessly, cruelly, appallingly.

William Carlos Williams
Then I grasped the child's head with my left hand and tried to get the wooden tongue depressor between her teeth. She fought, with clenched teeth, desperately! But now I also had grown furious --- at a child. I tried to hold myself down but I couldn't. I know how to expose a throat for inspection. And I did my best. When finally I got the wooden spatula behind the last teeth and just the point of it into the mouth cavity, she opened up for an instant but before I could see anything she came down again and gripping the wooden blade between her molars she reduced it to splinters before I could get it out again.

Mary White
William Allen White
A Gazette carrier passed --- a High School boy friend --- and she waved at him, but with her bridle hand; the horse veered quickly, plunged into the parking where the low-hanging limb faced her and, while she still looked back waving, the blow came. But she did not fall from the horse; she slipped off, dazed a bit, staggered, and fell in a faint. She never quite recovered consciousness.

Sean Codon
"After the wake Sally and I came home to eat some salad and drink a little wine, because we could; because we were alive. We talked for a while then turned on the television, but even as we watched we forgot what we were seeing, as though in silence and shadow, it was disappearing right before our eyes."

How to Care for A Boy With AIDS
By the time Crow Dog was done, Awee was asleep.
Crow looks at me. "What do I do now, Daddy?"
He calls me that when all the walls are down. "You hold him. I will get his pills. He will take them. But he will not remember."
Big silent blobs start welling up in Crow Dog's dark eyes.
"He's dying."
Again and again.
"Slowly, honey. Very slowly."