The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities

  Number 284

Early Spring 2017

Starred Books
In our General Index, from day one,
we have given stars to those titles that
our editors deemed to be of "especial merit."
You can now find them all here,
listed alphabetically by title.

15 Great Readings
When we review a book,
we often offer, as a reading, a poem or
a prose passage to demonstrate the writer's art.
Here's a selection of those from the last two decades,
ones that are still called up, year after year,
by our faithful readers.

Looking for Betty MacDonald
"Her agent in 1945 obviously found
the book as waggish as we do.
They didn't like the title, though,
came up with a far dumber one:
The Yolk's on Me [sic].
Betty was not one to back down,
even with her future as a writer
hanging flimsily there on the line."

The Boat Rocker
"His backside,
white like cream and perfect in size,
dazzles me and makes my breathing flutter.
I caress his skin, soft and smooth like silk,
which reminds me of a baby's cheek."

The Enigma of Iris Murphy
"I would have done all the chemotherapy,
but I could smell the Angel of Death everywhere.
He smokes cigarettes, you know.
What's the use of losing all of your hair and having surgery
when the Angel of Death is smoking Marlboros
in your backyard?"

And the Monkey Learned Nothing
"'One day the bombs start falling,' she said,
'and they hide in caves. Then bombs stop and they come out.
The farmers here, they still don't know what U. S. is really.'
And you? he asks. 'I was born after no more war.
Everyone born after no more war.'"

The Hemingway Thief
"The physical and cultural landscape
is a joy for those of us who know
and love all things Mexican: sunbaked canyons
and rock-strewn arroyos, lofty bluffs and weird mesas,
surf pounding white-sand beaches, ramshackle
hotels and tawdry cantinas."

Get Well Soon
"They used to call pneumonia
the old man's friend,
but whoever made this up should be shot at dawn:
it is the act of dying by drowning,
nature's own waterboarding, and it is
nobody's friend."

Polio Boulevard
"Let the family
have the worst of the memories, while you,
like an otter, can just float away on the gentle waters,
float playfully off there away beyond
those ghastly experiences."

Human Heart, Cosmic Heart
"He has patients who,
after new stents or bypasses are in place,
are left feeling that something is missing.
'Their energy is not the same; they feel less vitality . . .
They often chalk it up to aging, but the feeling
is nevertheless clear and unsettling to most these people.'"

Heavy Metal
"I scarcely thought
I would ever be reading, much less reviewing
a book with such characters as Iron Maiden,
AC/DC, Anthrax, Sabbath, Slayer,
Def Leppard, or Megadeath."

Great Reviews from the Past
Frozen Hell
"In one early battle,
Trotter reports that Finnish machine gunners
had to be treated for shock after killing wave after wave
of Russian soldiers who kept on coming,
crawling forward on the bodies
of those who were dead
and dying."

Abbott Awaits
"When he gets home
he will find a note from his wife,
that has to do with installing
a plastic locking device on
the toilet seat lid to prevent his daughter
from dropping pennies in the bowl
and laughing."

RALPH's Stodgy Humor

Drugs and The Winter War

As Long as I'm Still Entertainable
"What if I end up in
some state of infirmity where pretty much
all I do is sleep all the time?
That's okay. I find sleep to be very entertaining.
Sleeping is my favorite hobby.
I've gotten to be really good at it."

Cameron Kills Pretty Enemy LLP
"Do the right thing, Mr. Kills Pretty Enemy."
"I'll see you next week."
Erma nods her head.
"I'll pay you."
"You should pay all of your interns."
Cameron winces.
"Dorothy wouldn't approve of that."

Daily Tasks on the Chicken Ranch
"Bob had chosen and laid,
with great precision and care, white pine floors.
Another type of floor which might possibly get
as dirty as white pine, or more quickly, would be one of white velvet.
Bob was very thoughtful about wiping his feet but
he might as well have hiked right through the manure pile and
on into the kitchen."

Lighting the Gasoline Lanterns
"Saturday I had to light gasoline lanterns ---
the most frightening task on earth and contrary to all of
my early teachings that anyone who monkeys around with gasoline with matches
is just asking for trouble.
I never understood why or how a gasoline lantern works
and I always lit the match with the conviction
that I should have first sent for the priest."

A Kennedy in Each of Us
"The senator's son wasn't supposed to tell
anyone his mother and father were drunks
he loved. Like you and me, he was the secret
they counted on, to hold things in."

"We were very tired, we were very merry - - -
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.

Great Poems from the Past
The Mess of Love
"We've made a great mess of love
Since we made an ideal of it.
The moment I swear to love a woman, a certain woman, all my life
That moment I begin to hate her.
The moment I even say to a woman: I love you! ---
My love dies down considerably".

The Bestiary
"The Bestiary was Apollinaire's
first published set of poems; in fact,
his first published anything outside of art criticism and
some gummy pornography that he produced when
he ran out of money."


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.

In our General Index, from day one,
we have given stars to those titles that
our editors deemed to be of "especial merit."
You can now find them all here,
listed alphabetically by title.

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

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