The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities

  Number 283

Late Winter 2017

15 Knee-Slappers
The Guardian recently asked readers to send in
nominations for the funniest books they had ever read.
We stopped reading after six hundred entries,
but the list did bring back memories —
and helped us to recall dozens of books
that, over the years, had us,
so to speak, falling
out of bed."

Sober Stick Figure
"I woke up and had flashbacks of
being at a bar with some comedy friends
and being the only person dancing.
It's like the only choice I had was to
have another drink."

Tales from Nowhere
"In the capital, Malabo, there was
a scattering of markets, and a restaurant that served us
an unremitting diet of bananas and stewed rat --- except for one golden day
when we were given a plate of a darker and marginally
more succulent meat that, after we had eaten it,
was said to have been cat."

Dr. Joyce Brothers
"What she (and her audience)
did not get was that old adage of the real experts:
If you have a problem, you have a dilemma;
it's only when you have a choice
that you are truly free."

Where I Can See You
"She never returned, he never saw her again,
and his search has never ended, even these many years later.
Everyone, including the reader, gets to hear about it.
Again and again."

The Tortoise of History
"He can quote Billie Holiday in one poem
I ain't got no future but Lord, Lord, what a past
and Tom Lehrer in the next,
no no says the Doge of Dogs
no no says the Caesar of Cats
no to quote your great singer Tom Lehrer
We'll all go together when we go"

The Colour of Shadows
"There are some lovely sketches of
what they used to call 'high life' - - -
blacks dressed in their Sunday finery - - -
along with portraits of some buildings
in Port of Spain and a few
dandy palm trees."

New World Dharma
"I just like to know the names of
these plants I meet. Same with stars, birds.
With some plants I feel like I'm seeing an old friend.
Like kinnikinnick: 'Oh, I haven't seen you
for so long time!' Same with stars, birds, mammals:
always I'm happy to meet bear, caribou,
coyote, eagle."

One String Guitar
"It set me wondering if
the Iowa Writers' Workshop has
on its list of writing classes one
marked Appall & Gross Out.
If so, they taught her well."

Great Reviews from the Past
Missing, Believed Killed
"Baxter survived his three years
in prison because of his spirit of forgiveness.
He even maintained contact with one of
the more humane of his guards, a man named
Hirano, in Fukuoka."

Nights in the Pink Motel
"'Do you think President Bush
attacked Saddam because Saddam tried to kill his dad?'
I wish he hadn't asked me this, but I ask myself why
I think my opinions would be hard for him to take
in light of what he already has experienced.
He's seen buddies die.
Pretty late for me
to try to shelter him."

Ron Arias

Palenque and "Toxicos"

The Strange Death of Thomas Merton

"Monster Trucks" & "Great Wall"
"He appoints his son-in-law to the Chinese Laundry Commission,
and nominates Tom Skerrit to the Supreme Court.
As a result, civil war breaks out in the Middle Kingdom,
leading to the invention of rockets, gunpowder, the compass,
acupuncture, shrimp in oyster sauce,
and the egg roll."

The Best Arts and Literary Sites on the Web
"There are a whole new slew of
art and literary mags online nowadays,
publications that are made for people who aren't dead yet.
There are so many, it's tough to keep up, but I've
selected ten that I keep coming back to,
and briefly laud them here."

The Jail at Mérida
"You could keep your belt,
and your shoelaces if you had
shoes, and your necktie too.
You were free to hang yourself. "

Great Readings from the Past
The Death of Thomas Merton
"They had these very tall fans,
and he reached for the fan
to turn it on to the palette where
he was going to take his nap on the floor.
It was DC current and it
went into him and . . . "

Hunchback Mountain
"Small caves in the mountains
not much time left to find them
not enough lifeboats
20 hours
until the fish start to eat us"

100-Year-Old Poet
"Modigliani first name Amedeo
didn't live long enough
to paint you"

Letter from Breslau Prison
"I believe that the key to the riddle is simply life itself,
this deep darkness of night is soft and beautiful as velvet,
if only one looks at it in the right way.
The grind of the damp gravel beneath the slow
and heavy tread of the prison guard is likewise
a lovely little song of life — for one
who has ears to hear."

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.

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