The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities

  Number 184

Very Late Winter 2008 - 2009

New books from 2008
that swept us away.

New books from 2008
that made us yawn (or groan).

Mind Beyond Death

"If you are planning
to die anytime soon,
there is good news and
there is bad news.
The good news is that you
will be relieved of having to
live through any more elections,
pay any more taxes,
or listen to any more
rants on your private life
from the fundamentalists."

Home Girl
"Your next door neighbor
steals televisions and microwaves
and occasionally the building materials
you are using to fix up the shell
of the building you bought,
the one the seller himself called
a disgusting wreck."

Freeman Walker
"One night he stopped,
however, and I could see
the reflection of his face grow grim.
I've seen enough fighting,
he said, to last until eternity.
And have you noticed how
I'm trailed everywhere
by the dead."

Child 44
"It is this non-stop
all-pervasive paranoia that
makes the book so involving.
Every time we turn around
there is someone else wanting
to look at their papers,
question them,
check their very appearance,
looking for something to nail them."

Seduced by Modernity
"Such were
the aesthetics of the day
that this particularly depressing shot
of a single's woman's waking nightmare
was praised by critics as
of significant form:
'If a representative form has value,
it is as form,
not representation,' wrote one."

A Natural History of Seeing
"One of his treatments
was to bathe
sore eyes in urine.
Excellent advice,
says our author:
Urine is sterile
and mildly antibiotic."

Seven Wheelchairs
"The world out there
probably doesn't much care about
the reality of bladders or bowels.
Nor, I am thinking ---
and let's be humanitarian here ---
should we be in such a hurry
to let them know,
so graphically,
what will befall them as
they sicken, age
and die."

Great Reviews of the Past
Of Prisons and Ideas
"They rely on ready-made instruments ---
whips, truncheons, sandbags, needles,
castor oil, electric currents, and the like.
It is common, of course,
especially where torture is not standard procedure,
for the police to use, particularly in anger and haste,
whatever instruments may be at hand ---
pencils (for jabbing between fingers),
drawers (for crushing hands),
chairs (for jamming bodies against walls),
and most frequently, to be sure,
the most direct,
handiest instrument of all,
their fists."

A Persistent Peace
John Dear
Touching the Rock
John M. Hull

Jose Saramago
The Double


Cryptic Letters of the Month
Crew List

Nabokov's Morning
"Around eleven,
I soak for 20 minutes
in a hot bath,
with a sponge on my head and
a wordsman's worry in it,
encroaching, alas, upon
the nirvana."

Last Best Chance City
"They drank joy juice,
brave maker, black and tan,
red disturbance, forty rods,
skull bend, apache tears,
lamp oil, white mule,
tiger spit, who shot john,
tangle leg, blue rain,
tarantula juice, panther piss,
and Mormon valley tan."

The Stages of the Bardo of Becoming
"A city with nice houses
indicates a precious human birth,
one that will provide the opportunity
to practice the dharma.
Then you will see
a man and woman
engaged in sexual intercourse.
If you continue to
follow this course,
you will enter the womb
of the female and this couple
will become your parents."

We Lived Together
"One morning in the summer of our year
A village girl was selling flowers on a bridge on the edge of town
They were so beautiful
I bought twenty sen worth and took them home with me
My wife put them in an empty goldfish bowl
And displayed them in our shop"

March 16
Great Poems of the past
"I wrote
odes to the nudes in Lee Friedlander's
photos the tropical tufts of pubic
hair and cheap alarm clocks
constantly going off as if time
were speeding up and the cabdriver
taking me to the airport said
I know you you're the guy who
played the doctor on Love Boat."


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

Visit our Previous Issue        Visit our Current Issue       Visit our Next Issue