The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities
Late Spring 2016
we've become very fond of novels, poems,
essays, articles and readings that
explore exploring the mind. Here, we've
collected eighteen of our favorites.
Monticello in Mind
"For some reason,
the editor has insisted on including
a prose summary of each of these poems,
a veritable CliffsNotes for those of us too dumb
to figure out what it's all supposed to be about."
Tales from the Couch
"She put up with this distraction
for some time --- after all, he was Dr. Freud ---
but one day it just got to be too much.
She interrupted his windy question,
told him that if he would just shut up,
they could move along more quickly to discover
the roots of her problem, the one that
was driving her bonkers. Wisely, he did exactly
as she suggested."
Poetry of Resistance
"We heard rumors of the interview: they would ask me the color
Of her underwear. They would ask her who rode on top.
We invented answers and rehearsed our lines. We flipped through
immigration forms at the kitchen table the way other couples
shuffled cards for gin rummy. After every hand I would deal again."
The Battle for Room 314
"Near the door he had just kicked open
stood one Kameron Shields in pure renegade glory,
a one-man violation of every possible rule.
Above the neck alone, he was flaunting four violations:
He wore sunglasses and a baseball cap over a red bandanna
over iPod headphones. A silver flip phone was clipped
to his baggy jeans. Everything he wore was cherry red ---
the hallmark color of the Bloods."
Best New Poets --- 2015
"Poems can be a comfort,
but to many of us, they are best
when linked with a clear and precise picture of
the source of faith --- as well as its misery."
"They look not at you but
at the ceiling, cite statistics,
leaving one merely to quote Samuel Beckett:
We grow gently old down all the unchanging days,
and die one day like any other day,
The Timid Cabbage
"One does not have to be a rocket scientist to realize
that this is a heavily symbolic poem, referring to the early
sixteenth century concave set up to punish Martin Luther for his
95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. "
Hair: A Human History
"Selling locks of hair
can be a profitable business.
A book-dealer recently paid $119,500 for
'a strand of black hair taken from
the dead body of revolutionary leader Che Guevara.'"
Great Titles from the Past
Travels in the Interior of Africa
"I paid them many compliments on African beauty.
I praised the glossy jet of their skins, and
the lovely depression of their noses; but they said that flattery,
or (as they emphatically termed it) honeymouth, was not esteemed in Bondou.
In return, however, for my compliments (to which, by the way,
they seemed not so insensible as they affected to be),
they presented me with a jar of honey."
Great Reviews from the Past
My 'Dam Life
"It doesn't dwell on the wonders,
delights and the pretty side of Amsterdam --- but, rather
--- the horrors of losing an apartment overnight,
what it's like to hide from the city's no-foreign-workers bureaucrats,
how to make do while not understanding a weird language,
how to put up with weird neighbors."
"Spence convinces us that Mao's
surviving and coming to power is an astonishing fact,
something that seems more appropriate to 19th Century USA
than 20th Century China. It's a rise in the tradition of
"Weston offered up 'studies:'
bananas, toadstools, dunes, legs, feet --- and in one plate,
a bedpan hung sideways. As always, it is the contrast,
the positioning, the very abstraction that
creates the beauty."
Junky Old Cars
Our Favorite War Books
EVEN MORE LETTERS
Getting Rid of Arizona Once and for All
Getting Rid of Arizona
(Once and for All)
"We must petition the U. S. Congress at once
to render null and void the admission of Arizona as a state in 1907.
It was the last of the original forty-eight to be brought into the fold,
and I am suggesting that now is the time to revoke that decision ---
accept Arizona for what it has become:
a public nuisance."
Le Pacte des Loups
"Le Pacte, involves a
shadowy reactionary Catholic conspiracy and La Bête,
a mysterious, ferocious beast terrorizing both the countryside
and the scriptwriters --- which looked like a cross between a huge porcupine and
the Cookie Monster."
Paris' Hairy Bottom Street
"Three of the nine streets in which Louis IX
had allowed prostitutes to operate were in Beaubourg,
which had once had the rudest street names in Paris:
Rue Maubuée (Dirty Washington Street),
Rue Pute-y-Muse (Streetwalker Street), and
Rue du Poil-au-Cul (Hairy Bottom Street)."
The Perfect Baby
"'It's easier to make a baby than a cake, you know.
Wouldn't you rather?' He looked to the ceiling
in the direction of their bedroom. 'It's quicker, more fun . . . '
Callum had four younger brothers; she could have seen this coming.
Jane was the eldest of eight. Theirs was a family
that liked to breed."
"I waited until I was 58 before
I signed up for the Friendly Spider Programme
at the Zoological Society of London.
It made me cross: tell me, if you must,
that spiders are not wholly devoted to terrorising me,
but don't suggest they're friendly ---
I don't want them around whatever they feel about me.
Being loved was never on its own a satisfactory basis
for taking a lover."
"Thirty years ago, a girl from the land of Zapata kissed me once
on the lips and died with my name nailed to hers like a broken door.
I kept a snapshot of the wedding: yesterday it washed ashore on my desk.
There was a conspiracy to commit a crime. This is my confession: I'd do it again."
"The boy's eyes fixed
on jaws, snarls, white teeth.
His family has papers.
but in five days, José will be sent
back to Mexico, where he's never been,
the walk home from school without dogs."
"Everybody from La Benedición de Dios has left.
They all told me they'll come back soon,
but la pinche SB I070 está cabrona.
La pinche SB 1070 is only hours away.
Man, I have to get out of here.
I need to hit the road too, or else
hasta México puedo ir a dar. "
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
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T H E F A C T S
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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.
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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
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