Twenty Also-Rans:
More All-Time Hits
From the Pages of

Rainbow's End
The Crash of 1929
Maury Klein(Oxford)
It is worth going through this book to get some feel for Absolute Panic --- people dumping everything they own because they have to or because they are scared to death. The chapter entitled "Rainbow's End" is the best in the book. During meltdown month, they sent 500 cops into Wall Street just in case. Winston Churchill was there. On Black Thursday, several very wealthy ladies toured Wall Street, smoking gold-tipped cigarettes, but left because they found it depressing. Mr. Klein has written a stately book on an unseemly subject --- when a whole way of living comes to an end.
Dining at the
Lineman's Shack
John Weston
John Weston knows how to grab one's attention from the very first page when we find ourselves eating barbecued mountain lion, to the last, where he tells of a pack rat's nest which, it has been discovered, though carbon-14 dating, may have existed for different generations for 10,000 years. The whole book is a diverting accounting of life of a time when one could live off the land. The picture that emerges of his mother Elione and her brood is as gentle as Laurie Lee's magic saga of growing up in rural England, The Edge of Day.

The Sexual Teachings
Of the Jade Dragon:
Taoist Methods for Male
Sexual Realization
Hsi Lai
(Destiny Books).
The classes they now presume to teach in public schools, "Sex Education" --- an oxymoron if there ever was one --- are designed to freeze-dry one's passion. It is a matter of all those clinical diagrams, technocratic words, and VD/AIDS videos designed to chill any love for lust the students might come up with. Students spending a few weeks with The Jade Dragon might serve to get the juices flowing again, what with its plentiful supply of funny names and interesting tales, all set within the Taoist discipline. I would hope that Destiny Books would begin a program of petitioning the various state public school book-buying committees to make this a required text for any and all junior high, high school, and college classes on sexuality. It would do a hell of a lot for the politics of passion in this country, help get rid of those icky sex manuals with their repulsive little drawings, and, at the same time, start a little honest love flowing in the classroom, where it belongs.

The Curious Lives
Of Human Cadavers
Mary Roach
Roach is not only a joker, she's also an intrepid, sometimes demanding, reporter. She goes to a hospital where organ transplants are done, visits the harvesting room. Patient H has been brain-dead for a few weeks and the doctors have permission to take the livers, kidneys, and heart. The author has a peek inside the chest cavity just before the heart is pulled, and reports,

    I've never seen one beating, I had no idea they moved so much. You put your hand on your heart and you picture something pulsing slightly but basically still, like a hand on a desktop tapping Morse code. The thing is going wild in there. It's a mixing-machine part, a stoat squirming in it's burrow, an alien life form that's just won a Pontiac on The Price Is Right. If you were looking for the home of the human body's animating spirit, I could imagine believing it to be here, for the simple reason that it is the human body's most animated organ.

Kiss My
(Left) Foot
L. W. Milam
To be desirable, the foot had to be tiny. To make it so, the mother would wrap it in a ten-foot-long, two-inch wide bandage that was tightened each day, so that "flesh rotted and fell off, sometimes a toe or two, and the foot oozed pus, until the process of deformation was complete after two years, at which point the feet were practically dead."

This withered object had its own special name, "The Golden Lotus," because it resembled a lotus pod with the petals removed. It excited such passion that prostitutes would expose their feet "in a private chamber," where

    it was customary to linger over the girl's feet, stroking, sniffing, and licking them, and even dipping them in tea before drinking it. A favorite delight was to eat almonds from between her crushed toes.

David McCullough
Until the Cuban war comparatively little had been known about mosquitoes. It was not until 1895, for example, that a full account was published of even the common North American variety. The general impression was that all mosquitoes were more or less alike. At the time Reed and his co-workers identified Stegomyia fasciata as the yellow fever mosquito, no studies had ever been made of the insect's natural life history. So this too had been part of Gorgas' task at Havana and consequently he and his associates had discovered astonishing peculiarities that were of enormous value.
--- From The Path Between the Seas
©1977 Simon & Schuster

Mara Selvini Palazzoli
If we define the family as a self-governing system based on rules established through a series of trials and errors, then its members become so many elements of a circuit in which no one element can be in unilateral control over the rest. In other words, if the behavior of any one family member exerts an undue influence on the behavior of others, it would be an epistemological error to maintain that his behavior is the cause of theirs; rather must we say that his behavior is the effect of past interaction patterns. The study of this type of family transaction is therefore the study of fixed behavioral responses and of their repercussions.
--- From The Work of Mara Selvini Palazzoli
Trans. Arnold J. Pomerans
©1988 Jason Aronson, Inc.

Manuel del Cabral
I am the passion of the condemned.
Not the bedroom game that makes lives.
I am the lover of those who don't love.
I am the wife of les miserables.
I am the moment before suicide.
Only of love, but never alone;
limited by skin, I pull out people...
My fingers fill me with angels,
fill me with untouched passion.
It seems to me to be the silence of heroes.
I don't work solely with flesh:
It goes more with the digit of my office.
In my labor there is a higher worker,
A Quixote who drowns himself between my fingers,
a lover that I never hold.

James Agee,
Walker Evans

If you have never read Agee you might consider the possibility of dropping this review and calling up the American Book Exchange or Powells to get a copy of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men so that you don't have to waste your time in having me tell you what a fine piece of work it is. Barring that, let me say that it's the work of a young man (twenty-seven) who knows words and knows how to use them and wants us to see and hear and smell and feel what it is like to be intimately involved with three families who are certainly not famous but certainly are poor --- "dirt poor" as we used to say.

A Collection
W. B. Allen, Editor
(Liberty Fund)
One of Washington's problems --- to which he agreeably confesses --- is that of prolixity. He just couldn't stop putting out the words. And as we waded though these 235 documents, letters, speeches, and proclamations, we were wondering how the good man even had the time to run the country, much less do extensive surveying, fight the Revolution, manage Mount Vernon, and offer exhaustive advice to the likes of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, Marquis de LaFayette, Patrick Henry, John Jay, and the many other august personages of the time.

A New Kind of War
With chilling humour, historian John Keegan recounts how he once offended the curator of a war museum: "I constantly recall the look of disgust that passed over the face of a highly distinguished curator of one of the greatest collections of arms and armour in the world when I casually remarked to him that a common type of debris removed from the flesh of wounded men by surgeons in the gunpowder age was broken bone and teeth from neighbours in the ranks. He had simply never considered what was the effect of the weapons about which he knew so much, as artifacts, on the bodies of the soldiers who used them."

Reticence in discussing violence is particularly unfortunate in the case of the Great War, for one important characteristic of this four-and-a-half-year conflict is its unprecedented levels of violence --- among combatants, against prisoners and, last but not least, against civilians.
--- From 14 - 18
Understanding the Great War

Stéphane Audoin-Rouzeau
Annette Becker
Catherine Temerson,
©2000, Hill & Wang

Lettie J. Winters
The blow-job soldiers wallow in snow fields,
Spreading love through the mud-grey lilies;
Hired to fight the beasts who had attacked
Out of the bog, to steal our civilization,
Making hay in the dark with our women,
Bayoneting our babies in utero,
Ghosts of gods, fighting like gods,
Playing with the conscience of the ages.

Mel Rosenthal
(Curbstone Press)

Mel Rosenthal dedicated himself to showing people how to survive in what he now thinks of as another Third World country (in fact, some of the denizens had asked that Russia post a diplomat there, so they could ask for foreign aid). In the South Bronx of America consists of over a hundred black-and-white photographs of people working to survive in the rubble of what is essentially a dust-bin, with commentary by the author and pertinent quotes from others who lived there, still live there, or are familiar with the area.

Discovering the
Buddhist Path
Of Attention
Ken McLeod
(Harper San Francisco)
We learn from Ken McLeod's personal stories dotted about through the text that all his "clients" are professionals: businessmen, pilots, psychologists, lawyers, entrepreneurs. No low-lifes like you and me. One, "a consultant for corporate training," came to him because "he realized that the practice of right speech would change the way he did business." In other words, if your sales force is lagging and your bottom line is drooping, go to McLeod, add a little clear wisdom out of the East to your vigorish --- and soon enough your sales will go through the ceiling.

In Search of the
Sea's "Monsters" and
The World They Live In
Erich Hoyt
The deepest waters of earth lie at some 36,000 feet --- that's almost seven miles --- below the marine surface. It's called the "hadal" zone, from "Hades," the god of the netherworld. The pressure there is some 16,200 psi's --- which means eight tons pressing on every square inch of your body if you choose to go there (and if you choose to go there, because of the pressure, you'll end up looking like a Kewpie doll).

Besides turning into a midget, there are other reasons not to go there as well. One is that the fish that hang out there are pretty disgusting, and the sea cucumber, which eats coral sand, is even worse and I'm not going to tell you which part of its anatomy it breathes with, although it ain't the nose (it has no nose). They are very wrinkly, too. One time I went to a Korean restaurant in Seattle located in an old gas station and they served me boiled sea cucumber and, I swear, it tasted just like old gas and refried sand.

Michael Ingall
Dr. Skinner sat at the head of the table, his pointed chin resting in his curled palm. "You know," he began, "What we really need is a bit of civility in the unit. I've been giving it some thought for a good while. I think it would be lovely if we served high tea for patients and staff at 4 PM. I've spoken with the hospital administration about getting a silver tea service, but they thought it was too much money. But we can't serve high tea in paper cups! Any ideas?" ... My first thought was that he had been doing too much dowsing. But suddenly I blurted, "When I was growing up in Roxbury, my family had a silver samovar on the dining room bureau. We never used it, but it was for making tea. My father brought it with him when he left Russia during the Revolution. It's in the basement of my mother's house, I think, in a plastic bag. It's really very stylish. I could bring it in, and we could use it to make tea."

One day Mrs Fretag gave us an assignment. "Our distinguished President, President Herbert Hoover, is going to visit Los Angeles this Saturday to speak. I want all of you to go hear our President. And I want you to write an essay about the experience and about what you think of President Hoover's speech."

Saturday? There was no way I could go. I had to mow the lawn. I had to get out all the hair-grass. (I could never get all the hairs.) Almost every Saturday I got a beating with the razor strop because my father found a hair. (I also got stropped during the week, once or twice, for other things I failed to do or didn't do right.) There was no way I could tell my father that I had to go see President Hoover.

--- From Ham on Rye
©1982, Charles Bukowski

Robert Capa's Photographs
Of the Spanish Civil War
Leslie A. Martin, Editor
It was a terrible war, right? All wars are terrible, but the Spanish Civil War, which lasted less than three years, and killed, wounded, or drove out almost a million people, is one that still resonates in our hearts. It was, as they say, the curtain-raiser on WWII --- and to those of us who believed in the wonder of human freedom and the hopes of democracy --- the end, the loss of the Republic, was a bitter denouement. It's probably impossible for those who weren't alive, or at the age of reason, between 1936 and 1939, to comprehend how this one gripped us.

And the
Dear Lolita,
Westward Ha! is my favorite book and I enjoyed reading your perceptive review of this neglected masterpiece. I was so impressed that I immediately decided to take out a subscription to your journal.
But it seems that all the "links" on your web-page have expired. When I entered Ralph Magazine into a search engine I was directed to an Australian "Girlie" journal. Not exactly what I expected.
Could you send me subscription information for your journal (not the Australian one...)?

--- Sincerely,
Jonathan Brodie

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