The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities

  Number 270

Mid-Winter 2015 - 2016

We have our own star system
which turns up in our General Index.
It represents a choice selection of books we most favor
of the thousands we have reviewed online since 1995.
Here are twelve that came to us
in the waning days of the year just passed,
ones that we offer up to you because of their
spell-binding art, sheer writerly magic.

Hardcore Zen
"Your life and the life of
everyone else in the universe are one seamless whole.
To cause another living being pain isn't evil --- it's just stupid.
Because that being is you."

The First Bad Man
"Rainbows are in their own
class of spectacularity,
every single one of them impressive,
never a bleak rainbows, never with just some of the colors.
Always all the colors and always in the right order."

Words without Music
"What a story. From taxi driver/plumber
to putting on some of the zaniest
productions in the classical music world.
No matter what thinks of the noise he makes with his instruments,
one cannot help but be impressed by the way he pushed his particular agenda
And got away with it."

The Argonauts
"Babies have a will of their own,
which becomes visible the first time mine
sticks out a limb and makes a tent of my belly.
During the night he gets into weird positions, forcing me to plead,
Move along, little baby! Get your foot off my lungs."

The Looking-Glass Sisters
"The two of them live
in a snug little cottage in Finnmark, Norway.
Which is the pert of that country
that lies closest to the Arctic Circle,
the very coldest, darkest part."

A Life on the German Border
"When she tried to write a dance piece
involving Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit,
it was turned down by the GDR artist's union.
They said that "dancing and the Party cannot coexist."

How to Live Well with Chronic Pain
"Alas, they are not offered the chance ---
as you and I are in this choice book --- to heed
a lesson from so many years ago, After a battle that
defeated the Romans and, at the same time,
decimated Pyrrhus' army at Apulia, he commented,
If we win another such battle against the Romans ---
we'll be completely done for."

Between the World and Me
"The war on drugs and,
more recently, post-9/11 antiterrorism efforts have created
a new figure on the U.S. scene: the warrior cop ---
armed to the teeth, ready to deal harshly with targeted wrongdoers,
and a growing threat to familiar American liberties."

We Were Brothers
"The moral is a good one,
[1] There ain't no accounting for the people
we'll wake up post-uterine to find ourselves saddled with;
[2] Make the best of it while you can ---
at least until you can bail out; and
[3] Never ever write a book about it."

Great Titles from the Past
The City of Falling Angels
"One night, Peggy re-enacted
the Sinking of the Titanic --- her father had died on it.
She walked from her terrace
into the water, completely nude.
She took the orchestra with her.
She had paid them to do it.
The gondoliers had to rescue her."

Great Books from the Past
The Emperor:
Downfall of an Autocrat
His Venerable Majesty was no reader.
For him, neither the written nor the printed word existed;
everything had to be relayed by word of mouth.
His Majesty had had no schooling.

Great Reviews of the Past
Human Rights in African Prisons
"If you plan to go on a rampage,
don't do it in Belarus, Bermuda, or Russia.
Next to one other country,
they have the highest confinement rate in the world ---
532 per 100,000 national population."

A Sense Sublime
"A Junkyard in DeKalb is paired with Albert Camus;
a trashed Buick coupe merges uneasily
with the poet Charles Wright;
a cow up to its knees in rainwater
is seen as another face of Meister Eckhart."

The Guise of Another
The War Reporter

T. S. Eliot Sticks It to Geo. Orwell

A Letter to Philip Glass

The Music of Gold
"Hey man, what are you doing here?" I asked.
"We're here finding gold."
"Where is it?"
"There's gold everywhere, all over here,"
"I've been finding a few nuggets.
But when I get a good big one,
I'll cash it in and go home."

A Philosopher in East Berlin
"During this period,
I came up with the idea of transforming
Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit into a ballet.
I searched the text for potential
dance steps and found them too."

Great Readings from the Past
Dirty Artists and the Very Rich
"What I like about the rich is the freedom and the friendliness.
Christian atmosphere. Liberty hall. Everything shared because
there is too much. All forgiveness because it's no trouble.
Drop their Dresden cups on the fireplace and they smile.
They are anxious only that you should not be
embarrassed, and spoil the party."

Great Poems of the Past
"So life lets you have a sandwich, and pie for your
late night dessert. (Pie for the dog, as well.) And
then life sends you back to bed, to dreamland,
while outside, the starfish drift through the channel,
with smiles on their starry faces as they head
out to deep water, to the far and boundless sea."


The Vivisection Mambo
has just been published in quality antique typeset style.
It consists of 125 poems of the new Neo-Realist School,
many appearing here for the first time.
In a starred review, Kirkus called it
A fine anthology of some of the best contemporary poetry around.

The Noisiest Book Review in the Known World
was published over two years ago.
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 was listed by Kirkus as
"One of the Best Books of 2014."

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.

b. 1985 - d. 1989
Our predecessor magazine received
enthusiastic encomiums from media writers at
The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times,
The San Francisco Chronicle,
and on
National Public Radio --- among others.
You can now find links here to all thirteen riotous issues.

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

With your $25 subscription,
you help perpetuate honest,
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plus ensure the survival of
this rare if odd online literary journal.
You will also receive
a free copy of our anthology,
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which, is, in the real world, they say, priceless.

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