The Review of Arts, Literature,
Philosophy and the Humanities
Early Spring 2016
our 21-year history that have passed into The Haze.
But when we call up the daily hit list from our server,
there they are, in what they call the "Awstats" ---
3000 pages of old, odd items that we've long forgotten
but that are still being accessed by readers in California,
Canada, Croatia, Caledonia,
Tuvalu, Togo or Turkmenistan.
"Hunter Thompson without the drug-stained hyperbole,
Thomas Wolfe without the elegant sarcasm,
Truman Capote without the self-destruct,
Norman Mailer without the drunken brawls."
"Do you think there's a future or not,
and if so, are you going to be there?
That's the everyday query that fills Tram 83, the bar, and Tram 83,
the novel, like thick smoke, then blows out into the streets ---
and all around the world, and out into space, and beyond."
Everything to Nothing:
The Poetry of the Great War
"Some statesmen welcomed the war
in the belief that it would act as a social discipline
purging society of dissident elements and encouraging
a return to patriotic values."
Bull and Other Stories
"Hey Dad, how are you doing in there?
You can come out now.
Admit it was all a crazy mistake.
Take off the makeup and stockings, chop off that hair,
stop taking hormones because that's a losing battle.
Hate to break it to you, Dad,
but you still look like a dude."
"Homeland Security goons, sundry suicide bombers,
narco hit men, sex-crazed illegal aliens, not to mention
illuminati global warmers, insurance cults,
even the Senate Sub-Committee on
"I suppose if we were expected to
make up words to tell us about Levy's style,
we would say things like surprise or sui generis ---
but we also have to acknowledge how artfully
she constructs these fictions with all manner of irruptions,
alarums, diversions --- and indeed, in general,
showing a tacky neo-Shakesperian fancy."
Jonas Salk: A Life
"Salk's problem was that
he was not only not much of a barn-burner,
but that he was suffering from that ultimate existential
American failing: that is, that he felt that he had
suffered too much."
The Living Bird
"Busiest-looking: the Belted Kingfisher.
Biggest showoff: Male Frigatebird blowing up his red throat sac.
The Little Old Man of Bird-dom: The Great Blue Heron hunched over on her nest.
Oddest bird names: Oleaginous Hemispingus, Layard's Tit-Babbler,
the Zitting Cisticola, the Greater Pewee, the Predicted Antwren,
the Crimson Fruitcrow and the Spectacled Tyrant."
Fear and the Muse Kept Watch
Poetry is respected only in this country ---
people are killed for it.
There's no place where
more people are killed for it."
"They bury their dead with their heads directly downward,
because they hold an opinion, that in eleven thousand moons
they are all to rise again; in which period the earth
(which they conceive to be flat) will turn upside down,
and by this means they shall, at their resurrection,
be found ready standing on their feet."
Great Reviews of the Past
André Breton in Martinique
"They accused him of not only
being a surrealist (which he was)
to being a hyperrealist (which I doubt).
He was lucky to escape Vichy France with his life:
fascists do not take kindly to weirdos in any form,
especially those who spout Valéry and de Sade and Wilde."
Letter to D --- A Love Story
"He answers his own question, quoting from Kafka:
My love for you doesn't like itself.
This is a man who cannot abide himself.
If he can't stand himself, he is saying,
what kind of a woman would be so foolish
as to love him?"
In Praise of Supermarkets
"And finally, in his acknowledgments,
he gives 'thanks to anyone who has ever
gone to the grocery store with me.'"
Russian Artists under Stalin
EVEN MORE LETTERS
Getting Mooned by God
Mark Twain in Hawaii
"For me its balmy airs are always blowing, its summer seas flashing in the sun;
the pulsing of its surf is in my ear; I can see its garlanded crags, its leaping cascades,
its plumy palms drowsing by the shore, its remote summits floating like islands above the cloud-rack;
I can feel the spirit of its woody solitudes, I hear the plashing of the brooks;
in my nostrils still lives the breath of flowers that perished twenty years ago."
Another Smelly Old Dog
"I got his front end up for a second, but just as I got him up,
he breathed out and I breathed in.
One gust of Buck was enough.
It was like a gust from a buzzard's nest.
I was paralyzed.
Buck hit the porch boards and lay there
like the old polar-bear rug he resembled."
Child Soldiers in Literature
"Portraits of war as a criminal enterprise
began to emerge more fully in contemporary literature
and are especially prominent in literature that focuses on
Sergei Eisenstein in Mexico
"Stalin was informed while
he was still on holiday and smelled treachery.
Though he could not remember Eisenstein's name accurately,
he instantly detected a plot to extract money
from the Soviet state to fund
a new life abroad."
"At Hamden High football games, girls
in short pleated skirts
pranced and kicked, and I longed
for their memorable thighs.
They were friendly --- poets were mascots ---
but never listened when I told them
that dead people didn't like olives."
Her Long Illness
"When it snowed one morning Jane gazed
at the darkness blurred
with flakes. They pushed the IV pump
which she called Igor
slowly past the nurses' pods, as far
as the outside door
so that she could smell the snowy air."
Great Poems from the Past
"I and Pangur Bán my cat,
Tis a like task we are at:
Hunting mice is his delight,
Hunting words I sit all night.
Better far than praise of men
Tis to sit with book and pen;
Pangur bears me no ill will,
He too plies his simple skill."
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
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Lolita Lark, Editor-In-Chief
Post Office Box 16719
San Diego CA 92176