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

Number 147

Late Late Spring 2006

In our General Index,
we give out *stars* to those books
we deem of "especial merit."
Here is a list of the ones
we have so chosen from
mid-2005 to mid-2006.

What Good Are the Arts?
"The critic lives badly;
his wife does not
appreciate him as she ought to;
his children are ungrateful;
the first of the month is hard on him.
But it is always possible
for him to enter his library,
take down a book from the shelf,
and open it. It gives off
a slight odour of the cellar, and a
strange operation begins which
he has decided to call reading."

The Enemy of God
"Reading Isaiah's excoriation of
the stiff-necked people or
the self-destructive hair-splitting
of the besieged inhabitants of Jerusalem
(in Josephus' 'The Jewish War')
one sees a key part of that culture:
an unsparing self-consciousness befitting
God's chosen people."

In the Company of the Courtesan
"Such would cause him
to be called an ageist
in our own time, as when
he tells of the 'gizzard-necked
Florentine scholar' who
huffed and puffed so much
that it was hard to tell
if he was coming soon or
going for ever."

Two Years Before the Mast
"The title is a baldfaced lie.
Dana's two years before the mast
amounts to, if you add it up carefully,
a little more than nine months.
The rest of the time
he was in California, finding
and cleaning and hauling smelly
cattle hides up and down
the hills near San Diego."

Great Reviews of the Past
The Life of Johnson
"I never shall forget
the indulgence with which he treated Hodge,
his cat; for whom he himself used to go out
and buy oysters, lest the servants having that trouble,
should take a dislike to the poor creature."

Great Photography Books of the Past
Dream Street
"Smith's inspirations were epic:
Joyce's Ulysses, Finnegan's Wake,
Thomas Wolfe, Beethoven. What he produced
was so gargantuan that he could
never bring it together,
never bring it to completion."

Southern Potters
The Gateless Barrier

Growing Old
With Jesus

Ed Zern
Iridescent Light

Great Letters of the Past
The Origins of

Two Holy Wars
"Some call it a
'War on Terror' ---
but if so, it has been going on
not since 9/11 but
since the early 11th century.
This is when Christians first
invaded North Africa to punish
the relatively peaceful and
tolerant members of an
'infidel' religion."

Great Articles of the Past
Our Words Are No Longer Engraved in Stone;
They're Graved in Light

"The cursor thus gives us
the ability to pick up
a whole complex of ideas,
move them about
up or down the page;
or (so easily!) make them
begone forever into
the electronic trash-bin."

Czech Food
"Perhaps the dumpling's
most striking characteristic
is its extreme viscosity.
It sits there on the plate,
pale, tumorous, and hot,
daring you to take your knife to it,
and when you do,
clinging to the steel with a
kind of gummy amorousness,
the wound making a
sucking, smacking sound and
closing on itself as soon as the blade
has passed through."

St. Vitus Cathedral
"The great church
reared above us,
ornate and mad,
in Philip Larkin's fine description
of churches in general,
like a vast, spired ship
run aground and sunk here
in the midst of the castle complex,
clamoured about on all sides
by the reefs of
Baroque palaces coral-coloured."

Missing Person

"Late at night, we call each other, hooking into the power
grid, the billion zillion volts that hum between
D.C. and New York, to ask again. How much,
really, do you remember?
as if we were doing this only by dead reckoning,
also lost and crazy, or else as partners in whatever
turns out to have been the crime."

Women in Business
"And so here's the story: her
ex-boyfriend has palmed a key and trashed her apartment.
Wrecked the stereo, punched the iMac, looted all the coordinates
from Ikea, and peed in her dresser drawers. Her cat is hiding in
the splinters and will not come when called."

A Second Death
"at the restaurant they exchanged rages.
she broadsides him with her blackened
Cajun chicken sandwich. he pierces her cheek
with a French fry. she a anoints him with his freshly
poured glass of white Zinfandel and stomps out."


A complete list of all books reviewed in RALPH,
arranged by title, including author, subject, and publisher,
plus a listing of all readings, articles and poems
that have appeared since 1994.

of our most notorious reviews
as collected in the hard-copy

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Suggestions for would-be reviewers --- and payment schedule.
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     We've been around (in different guises) for over thirty years.     
The Fessenden Fund
Describing the good works of RALPH's official godparent
Behind the Scenes

The Faces of Those Who Make Up the Face of RALPH
Copyright Notice
The Reginald A. Fessenden Educational Fund, Inc.

Lolita Lark, Editor-In-Chief
Post Office Box 16719
San Diego CA 92176


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