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

Number 157

Late Winter 2006-2007

In our last issue,
we listed sixteen titles from 2006
that received our coveted Silver Star.
In this issue we offer
the Dowdy Dozen,
twelve books that managed to
irritate our reviewers beyond
all good reason.

Mencken: The American Iconoclast
Part I
"It is the worst English
I have ever encountered.
It reminds me of a string of wet sponges;
it reminds me of tattered washing on the line;
it reminds me of stale bean soup,
of college yells,
of dogs barking idiotically
through the endless nights."

Part II
"Washington was not pious.
He drank whisky whenever he felt chilly,
and kept a jug of it handy.
He knew far more profanity
than Scripture, and used it
and enjoyed it more ...
He took no interest in
the private morals of his neighbors.
Inhabiting These States today,
George would be ineligible
to any office of
honor or profit."

Apt. 301
"He estimates that
he makes $7,000 a year.
And although he has seen
Paris and Hawaii
and Miami and Milan,
he is still living in a place where
you and I would probably go nuts ---
if not in a week, then in a day."

The Avenger Takes His Place
"The American Civil War
was a maelstrom that killed and
maimed almost a million people ---
including those who died on the battlefield,
those who starved to death,
those died of horrendous infections
in the military hospitals of the time,
and, possibly worst of all,
those who were driven
into their own madness."

"We captured
charming Honduran white bats
with clown-like yellow ears
and leaf noses that,
within minutes, lay tamed
in our hands,
chewing contentedly
on pieces of banana.
I fed sugar water
from an eyedropper to docile,
long-tongued, nectar-feeding bats,
the hummingbirds
of the night."

Brides and Sinners in El Chuco
"It's pretty rugged territory
out here in El Paso.
Drunkenness, stealing,
sniffing glue,
fights at the night-clubs,
fights at friend's houses,
fights at home,
child abuse,
beating up gays."

Great Reviews of the Past
Untamed Seas
"There she was,
adrift for days and days,
without the temptation of hamburgers,
or big fat juicy steak sandwiches,
or a huge rich chocolate fudge sundae
dripping with whipped cream,
maraschino cherries
and nuts."

Uncoded Woman
Howl on Trial
Jagged with Love

Mme. Spivy
The Madness at RALPH
John D. Rockefeller, Sr.

RALPH Goes Commercial
Dancing Under the Red Star

Wikipedia and Nature Magazine
Louis XVI and Peanut Butter

Cryptic Letters of the Month
Samuel Pepys' Catamaran
Charlie Rose Blowing Brass
Rock Gardening in the Ukraine

The Museum
"The cast features
the big stars Gong Li
and Chow Yun Fat;
about half the population of China
served as extras;
there was martial arts hurly-burly,
elaborate sets,
and spectacular

How Not to Lie
"All these episodes
are so well known.
The man loses the passion
for the marriage and
he cannot live without.
The wife is pragmatic.
The wife is realistic.
Yes, passion is gone,
she's older and
not what she was,
but to her it's enough
to have the physical affection,
just being there with
him in the bed,
she holding him,
he holding her."

Going Bats
when you catch
wrinkle-faced bat,
only then can you
call yourself Bat Man."

I Inspect My Face

"It helps to turn the face
and examine acne: that one
spot reddened with trouble,
my fingers smoothing over
the small valleys and knolls, waiting
like the rest of my skin
for something to happen."

Two by Randall Jarrell
"Twice a day, in rotting mailbox,
The white grubs are new:
And Faith, once more, is mine
Faithfully, but Charity
Writes hopefully about a new
Asylum -- but Hope is as good as new.
Woe's me! woe's me! In Folly's mailbox."


All the back-issues of RALPH,
including titles of books under review,
along with author, subject, and publisher,
plus links to readings, articles, and poems
that have appeared on-line
since 1994.

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

Help perpetuate honest, noisy, pesky book reviews.
With your $25 subscription, you get
a free copy of one or more of the titles from
Mho & Mho Works

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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