The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities
It Was Raining Cats & DogsGod knows why, but every time we put up
[And There Were Poodles in the Street]
a review or a reading with a picture of a cat, a dog, a bird
--- even a naked mole rat --- we get page hits out the gazoo.
So, in honor of our readers' obvious love of the beasts of the earth,
we offer here our best animal crackers from the past,
those that always get the most bites.
Child Soldiers in the Western Imagination
"Over the centuries many children ---
heroes, villains, patriots and victims ---
have been child soldiers: Joan of Arc, Carl
von Clausewitz, Andrew Jackson, Moshe Dayan, Yasser
Arafat, Ishmael Beah, and even Dr. Ruth Westheimer."
Dinner with Buddha
"The book is a helluva lot of fun.
It is Travels with Charlie with a charismatic monk and
a doubting Thomas instead of an old dog and an egoistic writer.
Or, better, it's On the Road without
that noisy Neal Cassady
"Gruntle is a frequentative, as is the word fond.
Medieval lovers used to fond each other,
and engage in snugging, which, according to the author,
will result in fondling and snuggling.
Why Walls Won't Work
"The rise of a strict enforcement-only mentality
has created the Border Industrial Complex,
charged with defending
the boundary of Fortress USA and
imprisoning upstart invaders in a new
A Kind of Dream
"'Do you see?' Virgil asked.
She did. She saw, and what she saw was
good and beautiful and true,
but it was too late
to tell anyone."
"Anna's an artist, dyes cloths that
she winds together to make colourful hangings.
She tells him, 'I do textiles' sweeping her arm
to introduce the swathes and bolts of bright fabrics.
Then in a line that Joyce would have a field day with:
I'm constantly dying."
"It tells of a noble Italian family of Spanish descent,
although noble in the true sense of the word hardly applies.
The Uzedas are essentially greedy, selfish, hypocritical, cruel,
clueless, or just plain mean, and
those are the nicer ones."
Wild By Nature
"In one close encounter of the deleterious kind,
another of these Asians tries to snuggle up
to her sleeping bag in a yurt. She wakes, pokes him in the snout,
and tells us that he leaves early the next day,
so that no one will notice his bruises.
It's a matter, we gather, of saving face
with what she refers to as her
balls of steel."
"And pregnant women?
Never argue with a pregnant woman.
Never argue with a pregnant woman
about to become an ex-pregnant woman ---
an ontological and metaphysical disaster area."
Great Books from the Past
My Bright Midnight
"Is that a banana in our pocket,
or are you happy to see me?"
"Goodness has nothing to do with it!"
"When it came to calculating the odds in this complex effort ---
what was then an economic experiment --- Law seems to have
over-estimated his abilities, under-counted his enemies, and
utterly failed to anticipate what Charles Mackay's classic text of 1841
would call Extraordinary Popular Delusions and
the Madness of Crowds."
Great Reviews from the Past
"This is not some dry technocrat from an American university
making a dry study of the very poor in Calcutta.
She is there in the midst of the dust and the stink,
giving the reader a worthy study of the soul of poverty,
not some facile narrative with charts and figures but
My War Gone By, I Miss It So
"He's a reporter's reporter ---
the kind of person you and I would want having around
to report on our war, if we happened to be
in the middle of one (we are: it's called The War on Drugs.
That one figures in this book, too)."
EVEN MORE LETTERS
Odd Letters from the Past
"The English playwright Alan Ayckbourn said,
'If you're stuck, it's because somewhere you've told a lie.'
I thought that was very good.
And you have to go back and find out where you told the lie,
untell it, and then [the writing]
Lunch at the Roadside Café with Rinpoche
"'You should wisit,' Rinpoche told him.
'Three-day retreat, no eating.' He laughed.
The waiter studied him, not kindly or unkindly now,
but simply as if he were a rare specimen in these parts,
a migrating crane swooping in for butter and oatmeal.
He squinted, started to say something else,
then turned away."
A Journey with Virgil
"You're allowed in heaven, Virgil?"
"Didn't your father tell you dogs are more than welcome in Paradise?"
"He had Alzheimer's. He didn't always know what he was saying."
"Can you really believe that any community based on love would exclude dogs?"
Borders and Passports and the RFID
"You can't function in the world without it: you can't open a bank account,
get a credit card or national insurance number, or a driving licence,
or access to your email and social media accounts,
or a passport or visa, or points on your reward card.
You can't have your tonsils removed without it.
You can't die without it."
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's bean?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Had we but world enough, and time,
this coyness, Lady, were no crime.
But, at my back, I always hear
a pot of beans bubbling near."
Men As Trees, Walking
"When she gave in, let me have
my specs, it was like heaven, she even more
beautiful with wrinkles, people gross
as bears now limber as hickory, spare
as willows. And the trees, firmed up,
erect at last, were like emerald fish
with each scale whole and succinct,
as if they would never, ever drop a leaf
or a pass."
Great Poems from the Past
"I love the cows best when they are a few feet away
from my dining-room window and my pine floor,
when they reach in to kiss me with their wet
mouths and their white noses."
THE OFFICIAL RALPH
OUR NEW POETRY BOOK
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.
AN ANTHOLOGY FROM THIS MAGAZINE
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
THE FESSENDEN REVIEW
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.
A PITHY SAMPLE
of our most notorious reviews
as collected in the hard-copy
With your $25 subscription,
you help perpetuate honest,
noisy, pesky book reviews ---
plus ensure the survival of
this rare if odd online literary journal.
You will also receive
a free copy of our anthology,
the two-volume Best-of-Ralph
which, is, in the real world, they say, priceless.
T H E F A C T S
Submitting Reviews, Poems & Essays
Suggestions for would-be contributors --- and payment schedule.
The best way to get books to RALPH for review.
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
Mho & Mho Works
A Dozen or so Books from Our Foundation's Publishing Arm
Behind the Scenes
The Faces of Those Who Make Up the Face of RALPH
The Reginald A. Fessenden Educational Fund, Inc.
More Than 250,000 Unique Visitors Annually
Over 350,000 Hits Per Month Worldwide
Lolita Lark, Editor-In-Chief
Post Office Box 16719
San Diego CA 92176