The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities

  Number 282

Mid-Winter 2016 - 2017

Fifteen Suicides
Albert Camus famously wrote,
There is only one really serious philosophical
question, and that is suicide.

Over the last two decades, we have reviewed
dozens of books on this subject.
We list several of them here, along with
selected readings and poems on
this solitary, rather solipsistic, and
somewhat scary act.

America Chartres
Buffalo's Waterfront Grain Elevators

"The stomping ground of the giants,
once very busy, noisy . . . now rusted, faded out,
turned from a business into a gigantic memorial
to a now antedated industry. "

The Wetback
"David was certainly the best looking young man
they had ever seen, at least naked as he now lay.
No one seemed to have the slightest shame
before this perfect shape of a man."

The Golden Age
"It is in the Golden Age
that Frank, now thirteen, meets Elsa, the most beautiful girl
he has ever met. Elsa doesn't seem all that interested in Frank,
but slowly, she finds a great calm in being with him."

Falling into the Mob
"I'll listen but I don't expect
to buy nothing you're selling,"
he said, sitting down.
"I don't even know who you are."
"You should have watched my
biography on the History Channel."
"Sorry I missed it, I was
taking a shit."

Accidence Will Happen
"The best reformer of English spelling was Daniel Webster.
He took the language, and, for his American dictionary,
merely rationalised a few spellings and
created enduring and economical variants."

Dance of the Jakaranda
"The gigantic snake
was a train and the year was 1901,
an age when white men were still discovering
the world for their kings and queens
in faraway lands."

"Getting older
is a process of getting lonelier and lonelier until,
at the end, you are completely solitary, and then
you are officially dead."

The Drowned Detective
"Tell me about the dead, I asked her.
I know nothing about them.
I am fake, like I told your colleague, charlatan.
My wife, I began. Ah, she said, you still have one?
Things are looking optromistic. Optimistic, I corrected her.
Yes, she said. Look on the bright side.
The dead can't."

Great Reviews from the Past
Bugs, Bites, and Bowels
"I have vowed to never eat the freshwater shrimp
I favor in the village I visit every winter.
I keep imagining that 'nasty little worm that can
set up home in the brain or eyes.'
Or maybe it's the vision ---
what a vision! ---
of one of those tiny worms
slithering across my eyeball."

Paris Review Interviews
"Fourteen writers,
one movie hack, and one editor appear here.
And what a silly project it is!
To interview writers about writing.
As if they knew anything about their authorial voice;
as if they could tell us squat
about being a creator."

Tobias Wolff
"Frost was good at masking his eyes under those hanging brows,
but now and then I saw him shift his gaze from the page to us without losing a word.
He wasn't reading; he was reciting. He knew these poems by heart
yet continued to make a show of reading them, even to the extent of pretending
to lose his place or have trouble with the light."

The Holiday Spirit

Ants (or Scorpions) in the Pants

Homeless in Academe
"In this universe,
Mr. Trump conducted gigantic studies of the human genome.
The famous entrepreneur was boastful, but open, friendly,
and not uninformed about genomic subjects."

The Death of Democracy?
"These deaths are
the result of self-inflicted violence,
either suicides or drug and alcohol overdoses
('poisonings' in the language of the report),
particularly affecting white Americans
living in the parts of the country
that overwhelmingly voted red."

So You Want to Be a Mobster
"You say it's not hard but I have
no idea how to run a crime family.
I've never even stolen a stick of gum.
How could I lead an organization when
I have no knowledge of the business,
no respect or credibility from subordinates,
no vision, and no authority?"

Great Readings from the Past
On Finding a Lion in Your Bedroom
"At this moment
Huebner was suddenly awakened by a loud cry,
and on looking down from his berth
was horrified to see an enormous lion standing
with his hind feet on Parenti's body,
while his forepaws rested on
poor Ryall."

A Guide for Spiritual Tourists
"Inside, rows of sandstone saints
with extra eyes. Or a black-tongued woman.
Or Francis Xavier's remains.
Or a rosy square with pigeons and a bath.
Or a cupboard of scrolls. Or a gilded man,
cross-legged or on a cross. Or tree limbs
coiled with flags. But always incense,
worn pavement, smoke-stained walls."

Sonnet for My Backyard Crickets,
Two Weeks Gone

"Well, crickets, you're gone again
and again I haven't gotten around
to thanking you properly - - - a habit of mine.
The same thing happened with my ex-husband,
though, at least, in his case, I tried.
(He hung up on me. Soon after, he died
but that's an old story. And long.)"

The Man in the High Castle
"Later scholars have found
that the Wilhelm version of the I Ching,
originally translated from Early Old Chinese
into German, and from that into English,
is defective, with language and suppositions
that badly distort the original."


The Vivisection Mambo
was recently 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 three 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,
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.
Submitting Books
The best way to get books to RALPH for review.
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
Copyright Notice
The Reginald A. Fessenden Educational Fund, Inc.
2015 - 2016
476,768 Unique Visitors
1,645,139 Page Hits

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