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

Number 148

Early Summer 2006

The House of Paper
"Book people can be maddening,
especially when they are
writing books about writing books, or
writing books about reading books
or --- worst of all ---
writing books about reading books
about writing (or reading) books."

A Tale of Two Cities
"All our lives,
we have seen our sister-women suffer,
in themselves and in their children,
poverty, nakedness, hunger, thirst, sickness,
misery, oppression and neglect of all kinds?
Judge you! Is it likely
that the trouble of
one wife and mother
would be much to us now?"

Monologue of a Dog
"Let's act like very special guests of honor
at the district fireman's ball,
dance to the beat of the local oompah band,
and pretend that it's the ball
to end all balls.
I can't speak for others ---
for me this is
misery and happiness enough:
just this sleepy backwater
where even the stars have time to burn
while winking at us

"With all this unbearable tension,
Shostakovich continued to produce.
Symphonies and Concertos lists
over 100 works that came from
his pen between 1922 and 1975.
In his last forty years,
he knew that he was,
perhaps, writing his own

Edward R. Murrow
"The shadow of Edward R. Murrow
has rendered Edward R. Murrow
more puny than, perhaps,
it should be."

Great Reviews of the Past
The Arizona Traveler's Handbook
"It's filled with
fine pictures of tree chollas,
horned lizards, and indigenous
human native stock.
They all look roughly alike.
Outside of the natives ---
it's everything you
could ask for."

Great Photography Books of the Past
The Chrysler Building
"Some of the shots of the tower
(clean and new and white and pure)
make one long, ah, for that innocent time
when the decorative arts could involve
a whole unified structure, where straight lines
were softened by curve and decoration
so that buildings were not footsteps
of the brutes, stamped down heartlessly
on a cityscape."

Nero Wolfe
Ferris Wheels
Sacco & Vanzetti

Javier Marías
Michael Howard vs. Sir Michael Howard

Maori and

A Round-Heeled Woman

You Too Can Invest in Foreign Real Estate
"Julio, I am sure,
was recently enlisted by Central Casting
to appear in our movie.
Formerly, he had played Pancho Villa
and various other feckless revolutionarios and
he still sported a ratty black moustache,
restless tar-pit eyes,
and leathern skin."

Great Articles of the Past
Hurricane, 1943
"Then a branch
starts to split from the camphor tree
out in front, on the edge of the river:
we watch the branch beginning to go
you can see the white where the bark has parted,
the wood shows through, and then
the branch is turning slow-motion
through the air."

Why Keep Books?
"I have often asked myself
why I keep books that could only ever
be of any use in a distant future,
titles remote from my usual concerns,
those I have read once and will not open again
for many years, if ever!
But how could I throw away
The Call of the Wild, for example,
without destroying one of the building bricks
of my childhood, or Zorba the Greek,
which brought my adolescence
to a tear-stained end."

Beggars Throwing Pus and Scabs
"Beggars eaten with unknown diseases
leap on the passerby and attempt
to sodomize him in the street,
throw pus, and scabs,
and assorted vectors --- insects suspected of
conveying a disease ---
pop out festered eyes
with great force and accuracy,
all this in the hope of infecting some-one."

A Few Words on the Soul

"Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.
It won't say where it comes from
or when it's taking off again,
though it's clearly expecting such questions."

Monologue of a Dog Ensnared in History
"For me they always had smiles,
with envy poorly hidden.
Since only I had the right
to greet him with nimble leaps,
only I could say good-bye
by worrying his trousers with my teeth.
Only I was permitted
to receive scratching and stroking
with my head laid in his lap.
Only I could feign sleep
while he bent over me to whisper something."

Trzy Slowa Najdziwniejsze
"Kiedy wymawiam słowo Przyszłość,
plerwsza sylaba odchodzljuż do przeszłści.
Kiedy wymawiam słowo Cisza, niszcz ęją.
Kiedy wymawiam słowo Nic,
stwarzam coś, co nie mieści się w żadnym niebycie."


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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T H E  F A C T S
Submitting Books
The best way to get books to RALPH for review.
Submitting Reviews
Suggestions for would-be reviewers --- and payment schedule.
RALPH didn't spring full-blown from the brows of the gods:
     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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