The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities

  Number 259

Early Spring 2015

Some Odd (But Very Important) Books
A few of the books we've reviewed
over the last twenty years offered
radical new theories of how we live
as opposed to how we think we live, and
--- best of all --- show how we often
cannot fathom what we think
(as opposed to what we think we think).
Here are a dozen or so titles that,
when we read them, swept us
off our feet with a kind of charmed novelty.
After all these years, they manage to keep us
awed . . . and slightly off-balance.

Face of Our Time
"When we stare dead-on
into these faces from 1914 and 1929 and
1932 and 1940, we are looking into the mirror
the way we always should look into the mirror:
unsmiling, with a pitiless, gryphon-like stare,
seeking out any clue as that might cause us concern."

An Innocent Abroad
"There are places in the world
where one feels new, young, and alive again.
Where plants grow without soil.
Rocks exist in formations that make no sense.
Trees are made from dragon's blood and
their trunks have healing properties."

Preparing the Ghost
"He lists ways in thirteen different countries
of saying Ouch!
In France, they say, Aie!
In New Guinea, they say, Udei! Udhiao!
In Japan, they say, Itai!
In Hindi, they say, A'uca!
In Latin, they say (or said), Heu!
In Arabic, they say, Guoy-ha!
In Azerbaini, they say, Uf!"

Fractured Times
"'I've always acted alone like the cowboy . . .
the cowboy entering the village or city alone on his horse . . .
He acts, that's all.' Who said that?
Henry Kissinger to Oriana Fallaci in 1972, that's who."

"Our love will shine
throughout the world like the sun.
Come with me into the land of pine needles,
and we shall live there in endless love."

Up In Here
"I ain't fixin' to
work at no McDondal's for
no four dollars an hour when
I can sell five bags in about an hour
and make a hundred."

A Useless Man
"Bees land on my tongue and sting my eyes.
The sun is setting and a cormorant sinks into thought,
a seagull alights on a pylon in the void.
The pebbles on the shore wear the water's cloak
and soldiers come out wearing all the colors
of the sky."

How to Be Both
"Don't try to look him up on Google.
You'll find 'The page Francescho del Cosso does not exist.
You can ask for it to be created.'
Great. Not only do we have a book devoted to an artist
from 500 years ago who may or may not have happened,
we are offered a chance to invent him."

Ma, He Sold Me for a Few Cigarettes

Maybe You Are Too Bussy

Great Articles of the Past
Barry Corbet
"Towards the end there
I called and told him that
I should write his autobiography.
I said I'd like to be his Gertrude Stein;
he could be my Alice B. Toklas."

The Fays
"Then they began to tell him,
first in a whisper,
then they started to sing,
then they started to dance,
about the men chosen by fate
to descend in dream or in madness
into the distant reaches of this hidden Land,
concealed in the fecund belly of Earth."

Death of the Dülger
"Then you'll pull it up into the boat and
for many minutes you'll listen to it wail.
Oh, that moan. Only the Dülger
and the Red Gurnard give out this pained cry.
As they lie dying on the boat,
they wail and gasp."

Great Readings of the Past
The Hot Mineral Bath
"In 1984 they immersed seven rheumatic patients and, sure enough,
found that as urination increased, joint swelling decreased.
'These physiological changes could be important
in modifying disease processes in patients
using water immersion as a therapy,' they concluded."

"two against one
isn't fair! I cried
and stormed out of Eden
into history:
the Middle Ages
were sort of fun
they called me a witch
I kept dropping in and out
of people's sexual fantasies"

Great Poems of the Past
James Alley Blues
"Times ain't now nothing like they used to be
Oh times ain't now nothing like they used to be
And I'm tellin' you all the truth, oh take it for me
I done seen better days but I'm puttin' up with these
I done seen better days but I'm puttin' up with these
I been havin' a much better time with these girls now I'm so hard to please"


The Vivisection Mambo
will be published this year.
It consists of 121 poems
from the newly discovered
Neo-Realist School,
many reviewed here
for the first time.

The Noisiest Book Review in the Known World
was published last year.
It contains 200 or so of what we believe
to be the best articles, readings, reviews and poems
from this magazine --- from our very first years to now.
If you subscribe to RALPH, you get a free copy of this anthology ---
which recently received the Kirkus star.

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

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you help perpetuate honest,
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which, is, in the real world, they say, priceless.

T H E  F A C T S
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Describing the good works of RALPH's official godparent
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The Faces of Those Who Make Up the Face of RALPH
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