Summer 2012

Ben Marcus, Michael Muhammad Knight, Bill Kushner, Etgar Keret, Faruk Ulay, & more...


An Interview with Bill Kushner in Three Parts
Interviewed by Cliff Fyman
Cliff Fyman recently spent a few afternoons with New York poet Bill Kushner, discussing his childhood, his wilder times in the 1980s, and even a few stories still in the works.

Suddenly: An Interview with Etgar Keret
Interviewed by Courtney Becks
Israeli author and filmmaker Etgar Keret—one of the biggest stars of Israeli literature, and unambiguously the don of the under-50 set—discusses his new collection of stories.

Visible and Invisible Literatures: An interview with Faruk Ulay
Interviewed by Norman Lock
Faruk Ulay, a prolific multimedia author and graphic designer from Turkey, discusses his difficult-to-classify texts, which often incorporate photographs of American urban landscapes.

No Tall Tales: An Interview with Yuriy Tarnawsky
Interviewed by David Moscovich
Ukrainian writer Yuriy Tarnawsky discusses the inspiration behind the “complex syntactical literary candy” of his novels and short stories.


Abandoning Hope to Discover Life: Commemorating the 51st Anniversary of the Grove Press Edition of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, with a Special Tribute to Barney Rosset
Essay by Rob Couteau
A fresh, in-depth look at a modern masterpiece that readers have variously found disturbing, obscene, and brilliant—and the adventurous publisher who brought it to the U.S.

The Work of Michael Muhammad Knight
Essay by Spencer Dew
Knight’s literary project of exploring and imagining the possibilities of American Islamic identity is here scrutinized through a reading of his books to date.

Ethics of Listening When Visiting Areas That Contain Him, or:
The Cloudage of Ben Marcuses
Essay by Lance Olsen
Via words and insights of others spoken through his mouth, Olsen investigates the amazingly plural precincts of Ben Marcus's fiction.

Reviews: Poetry

Across the Land and the Water
W. G. Sebald
The haunting images of his fiction play a role in this harrowing collection of Sebald's poetry, translated for the first time into English. Reviewed by Jesse Freedman

Ghost Stories of the New West: From Einstein's Brain to Geronimo's Boots
Denise Low
Low's vivid collection of verse and prose is an enchanting tribute to the plains and the history long buried there beneath the bluestem that grows wild. Reviewed by Heath Fisher

Meghan O’Rourke
O’Rourke’s new poetry collection depicts grief’s landscape­—the devastation, numbness, and moments of clarity. Reviewed by Mark Liebenow

I, Lalla
Lal Ded
A recently translated selection of bhakti poems represents a valuable and timely contribution to the growing body of works by Kashmir’s most loved mystic-saint-poet. Reviewed by Graziano Krätli

Gnostic Frequencies
Patrick Pritchett
Pritchett’s book of “extravagant pulses and rhythms” is the most recent addition to a growing number of works that embrace this indefinable belief system. Reviewed by Norman Finkelstein

Mind Over Matter
Gloria Frym
Frym’s twelfth collection of poetry adopts many moods, owing a debt to Homer, Shelley, Jack Spicer, and The New York Times. Reviewed by Dawn-Michelle Baude

The Oregon Trail is the Oregon Trail
Gregory Sherl
Sherl uses a cult-classic computer game from the 1970s to explore human emotion and impermanence. Reviewed by Christopher Beard

(T)ravel Un(t)ravel
Neil Shepard
In Neil Shepard’s fourth book of poems, we’re snatched up as if by the fabled Roc and dropped into one far-off locale after another, subject to travel’s transformative power. Reviewed by Judith Slater

Poet in Andalucía
Nathalie Handal
Inverting Lorca's experience, Handal travels from New York to Spain, creating rich poems layered with language, culture, and public and personal history. Reviewed by Amelia Cook

Your Essence, Martyr: Pakistani Elegies
Edited by Alamgir Hashmi
This small anthology of English translations of Urdu poems from the 1970s is enlightening, moving, and often heart-wrenching. Reviewed by R. Nelson

Reviews: Comics

Ōoku: The Inner Chambers Vol. 1
Fumi Yoshinaga
You don’t have to be a fan of manga or have a lot of knowledge of Japanese culture to appreciate Ōoku; all you need is to be interested in historical drama with a twist. Reviewed by Amanda Vail

Dotter of Her Father's Eyes
Mary M. Talbot and Bryan Talbot
History and memory intertwine as James Joyce scholar Mary Talbot recounts her relationship with her late father in this graphic memoir, illustrated by acclaimed cartoonist Bryan Talbot. Reviewed by Greg Baldino

Reviews: Mixed Genre

In The Presence of Absence
Mahmoud Darwish
This genre-bending book is a spiritual autobiography that looks like prose but feels like poetry, moving from death to birth, from the poet's own grave to his father’s, and from anecdote to meditation. Reviewed by Brooke Horvath

Red Plenty
Francis Spufford
Spufford’s Red Plenty contains many instances of both utopic and dystopic visions that capture both the aspirations and horrors of the Soviet Union. Reviewed by Justin Wadland

Reviews: Fiction

Time of Women
Elena Chizhova
This 2009 Russian Booker Prize-winner, recently translated into English, partly meditates on how Russians have a reputation for being at once soulful and tough. Reviewed by Steve Street

The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold
Kate Bernheimer
This innovative, haunting novel, the last in Bernheimer’s trilogy about three sisters, draws upon traditions of the fairy tale. Reviewed by Caroline Wilkinson

To Assume A Pleasing Shape
Joseph Salvatore
Salvatore's spellbinding stories swirl and seethe and wrap about themselves in the telling, offering their own strange logic. Reviewed by Weston Cutter

We Make Mud
Peter Markus
In his new story collection, Markus deconstructs, and then methodically reconstructs, the reader’s comprehension of setting and character. Reviewed by Nick Ripatrazone

César Aira
Aira's latest translated work, the hilarious Varamo, follows a hapless government employee in the midst of crisis and madness. Reviewed by Douglas Messerli

We Are All Equally Far From Love
Adania Shibli
Shibli’s second work collects eight short stories that revolve around the difficulty of finding and sustaining love. Reviewed by Brooke Horvath

Call Me When You Land
Michael Schiavone
In this debut novel, a fractured family pulsates in quiet desperation as a single mother struggles to hold onto her son after the death of his father. Reviewed by Soo Young Lee

The Correspondence of Fradique Mendes
José Maria de Eça de Queirós
The fictional Fradique Mendes was created to satirize a younger generation of earnest poets. Reviewed by Douglas Messerli

Lysley Tenorio
In Tenorio’s debut collection of stories, every character, every story, is an exploration of a marginalized, identity-torn individual. Reviewed by Robert Martin

Andrei Gelasimov
Disfigured by terrible war wounds, Konstantin finds himself back among his fellow soldiers as they search for a missing comrade in Moscow. Reviewed by Amy Henry

Vanishing Acts: A Tragedy
Forrest Hylton
Vanishing Acts is worth the read for its unapologetic bilingualism alone, but its compelling story of an anthropology student conducting fieldwork in Colombia is equally compelling. Reviewed by Kirstin Thiel

Reviews: Young Adult Fiction

Colin Meloy & Carson Ellis
The Decemberists front man has crafted a wild parable with his wife/illustrator, combining his love of nature and classic children’s stories. Reviewed by Steve Bramucci

Reviews: Nonfiction

That’s Disgusting: Unraveling the Mysteries of Repulsion
Rachel Herz
Yuck!: The Nature and Moral Significance of Disgust
Daniel Kelly
The Meaning of Disgust
Colin McGinn
Authors Rachel Herz, Daniel Kelly, and Colin McGinn show how disgust is a highly complex emotion, a matter of both repulsion and attraction—and how there is something fascinating, even seductive, about disgust. Reviewed by Jeremy Biles

On Leave: A Book of Anecdotes
Keith Tuma
A noted poetry critic's journal offers a meditation on the anecdote as form, as well as an introduction to the avant-garde poets of Britain, Ireland, and America. Reviewed by Stephen Burt

Witold Gombrowicz
Gombrowicz’s Diary mingles confessional writing with polemics on such topics as Polish nationalism, modern literature, classical music, visual art, existentialism, Catholicism, and Marxism. Reviewed by Steve Danzis

The Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers with Selected Letters of Una Jeffers, Volume Two, 1931–1939
Edited by James Karman
The second volume of Jeffers’s collected letters follows his career from its apogee at the beginning of the 1930s to its crisis at the end of the decade. Reviewed by Robert Zaller

Pierre Joris: Cartographies of the In-Between
Edited by Peter Cockelbergh
This collection of essays about the translator, poet, and manifestor of “Nomad Poetics” should prompt a revival of Joris’s tremendous contributions to poetic discourse. Reviewed by Megan Burns

The Strangest Tribe by Stephen Tow
Everybody Loves Our Town by Mark Yarm
Two recent histories show that the story of grunge is funnier and more twisted and ironic than commonly understood. Reviewed by Justin Wadland

An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
In this collection of essays, Spivak posits that globalization has ruined, among other things, “knowledge and reading.” Reviewed by W. C. Bamberg

Joseph Roth: A Life in Letters
Edited and translated by Michael Hofmann
One of the finest German-language novelists of the 20th century, Roth survived intense experiences during the rise of Hitler, recounted in these letters. Reviewed by Steve Danzis

The Messengers
Malcolm Anderson
Anderson explores the mindset of distance runners who are compelled not just by distance but by repetition, hearkening to those Olympian “messengers” who have completed at least one hundred marathons. Reviewed by Scott F. Parker

77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected
Mike Nappa
Nappa dismantles any romantic notions of the publishing industry, declaring it takes him just sixty seconds to reject a book proposal. Reviewed by Luke Taylor

Tolkien and the Peril of War
Robert S. Blackham
The English era of World War I comes alive in this photographic and biographical tale of icon J. R. R. Tolkien's experience of youth, war, injury, and marriage. Reviewed by Ryder W. Miller

The Last Utopia: Human Rights in History
Samuel Moyn
Columbia University historian Samuel Moyn offers a revisionist and convincing riposte to the classical account of human rights development. Reviewed by Vladislav Davidzon

Rain Taxi Online Edition, Summer 2012 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2012