Summer 2011

Sapphire, Alta Ifland, Jen Michalski, Dave McKean, Barry Hannah, and more...


Flirting with the Unfamiliar: An Interview with Alta Ifland
Interviewed by Rachel Levy
Ifland discusses her recent story collection, which won the 2010 Subito Press Prize for Innovative Fiction.

Novella Dreams: An Interview with Jen Michalski
Interviewed by Paula Bomer
Michalski talks about her award-winning, boundary-pushing novella, May/September.

Racism, Sexism, and Women Writers: A Conversation with Sapphire
Interviewed by Daniela Gioseffi
Sapphire, a poet and novelist who understands racism at its core and women's rights as essential democracy, discusses these topics in this recently unearthed conversation.


Two Ways of Looking at a Novel: Haywire by Thaddeus Rutkowski
Reviewed by Vincent Czyz
Reviewed by Elizabeth Moore

For an experimental novel, we experimented with our review: here are two very different takes on the same work.

The Bloody Pulpit: Revisiting Secret Service Operator #5
Essay by Stuart Hopen
Join us as we revisit a stellar example of the age of the pulp magazine, the quintessential literature of the Great Depression and fertile breeding ground of a uniquely American mythology.

Animals (Us and Others)
Reviewed by Scott F. Parker
In the titles here under review, the issue at stake is the interaction between humans and the other thirty million (and crashing) animals that share this planet. Featuring reviews of Among PenguinsThe Exultant ArkLet Them Eat Shrimp, and Listed Presents: The Zine Apothecary: Lacey Prpić Hedtke Makes DIY Magic in a Garage
Essay by Sarah Peters
A new feature presenting the exceptional work of Minnesota artists.


Dave McKean
A challenging work, Celluloid pushes at the boundaries of what we call a graphic novel and what we consider erotica. Reviewed by Greg Baldino

Page by Paige
Laura Lee Gulledge
With her affable lines, her apparent ease, and her restraint, Gulledge makes her title character Paige's tenth-grade world a pleasure to visit, but she also gets it right. Reviewed by Stephen Burt


William Morris: Romantic to Revolutionary
E. P. Thompson
This reprint from 1955 offers a guide to Thompson’s favorite Romantic, the eco-visionary and Pre-Raphaelite ally who also transformed interior decoration. Reviewed by Paul Buhle

Beneath Blossom Rain: Discovering Bhutan on the Toughest Trek in the World
Kevin Grange
In this remarkable debut, Grange merges the myth of the Yeti and the tangible Himalayan mountains into a tension-filled journey through Bhutan. Reviewed by Barb Teed

The Fragrance of Grass
Guy de la Valdène
Valdène reflects on the difference between hunting and “sporting life” as he comes to terms with both in his memoir. Reviewed by Andrew Cleary

A World Without Islam
Graham E. Fuller
Fuller, former CIA Kabul Station Chief and former vice-chair of the National Intelligence Council, imagines an alternative history in which Islam is not a factor. Reviewed by Spencer Dew

The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists
Edited by Mary Jane Jacob and Michelle Grabner
This collection of essays acts to dispel the cloak of mystery that shrouds the usually private space of the artist’s studio. Reviewed by Patricia Briggs

The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death
Edited by David Shields and Bradford Morrow
Literary luminaries Shields and Morrow have gathered twenty contemporary writers and set them loose on the subject of mortality. Reviewed by Scott F. Parker

Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!
Douglas Coupland
This short biography of the landmark communication theorist is keen on linking Marshall (as Coupland usually calls him) with today’s digital world. Reviewed by Mark Gustafson

Access to Knowledge in the Age of Intellectual Property
Edited by Gaëlle Krikorian and Amy Kapczynski
The access to knowledge movement, which often goes by the acronym A2K, is like an iceberg: only a small part of it rises to the top of the media stream. Reviewed by W. C. Bamberger

The English Opium Eater: A Biography of Thomas De Quincey
Robert Morrison
This new biography of the gentleman addict tantalizes with what it reports but does not presume to interpret its subject's strange delusions. Reviewed by Spencer Dew

Radiohead and the Resistant Concept Album: How to Disappear Completely
Marianne Tatom Letts
Letts's critcally sharp study reveals Radiohead's ambivalent relationship with pop culture and contemporary capitalism. Reviewed by Jeremy Wade Morris

Atlantic Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories
Simon Winchester
Winchester, author of more than a dozen books and frequent traveler on the Atlantic, takes on the difficult task of explaining that ocean’s history and wonder. Reviewed by Ryder W. Miller


Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories
Barry Hannah
Reading through Long, Last, Happy, you can’t help but be struck by Barry Hannah’s attentiveness to life as it’s lived by largely unlikeable characters, lively and unlovely. Reviewed by John Madera

The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel
David Foster Wallace
Although the center of Wallace’s unfinished novel does not hold, the writing itself still fascinates. Reviewed by Rich Gangelhoff

Tea of Ulaanbaatar
Christopher R. Howard
This debut novel begins with a Peace Corps volunteer who, in a drug-induced stupor, finally remembers the lines to a Mongolian poem he has forgotten. Reviewed by Natalie Storey

Hamlet's Father
Orson Scott Card
In this rewriting of the famed Shakespeare play, Card’s Prince Hamlet displays the emotional depth of a blank sheet of paper. Reviewed by William Alexander

The Physics of Imaginary Objects
Tina May Hall
For all its linguistic precision, this story collection is whimsical, brutal, and structurally experimental, with beats of subtle humor woven in. Reviewed by Tessa Mellas

The War in Bom Fim
Moacyr Scliar
An early Scliar work recently translated into English, The War in Bom Fim portrays the decline of a Jewish community in 1940s Porto Alegre. Reviewed by Douglas Messerli

The People with No Camel
Roya Movafegh
This is not your grandmother’s memoir—it’s your contemporary’s, and it’s cloaked in fiction and fable. Reviewed by Kristin Thiel

Indian Tango
Ananda Devi
Indian Tango is full of flesh and moisture, reincarnation and metamorphosis. Reviewed by Kris Lawson

The Sojourn
Andrew Krivak
This World War I tale follows the tragic lives of two Austrians who join the military to defend their homeland. Reviewed by Amy Henry

Seconds Out
Martín Kohan
The circuitous plot of this novel revolves around the famous heavyweight bout between Jack Dempsey and the Argentine Luis Angel Firpo, popularly known as “the Wild Bull of the Pampas.” Reviewed by John Toren

A Palace in the Old Village
Tahar Ben Jelloun
In his new novel, Jelloun focuses on a character who has retired from his job in France and now longs for his old life in Morocco. Reviewed by Brooke Horvath

Light Lifting
Alexander MacLeod
In this admirable debut story collection, MacLeod lets his subjects shine with both raw power and supple beauty throughout. Reviewed by Benjamin Woodard

My Berlin Child
Anne Wiazemsky
Actress and novelist Anne Wiazemsky relates this fictionalized memoir of her mother’s life in post-World War II Berlin. Reviewed by Derek M. Jackson

The Illumination
Kevin Brockmeier
Kevin Brockmeier’s latest novel takes on a juggernaut of philosophical conundrums: the problem and purpose of suffering. Reviewed by Kelly Everding

Michael Crummey
Canadian author Michael Crummey’s Galore is set on an isolated scrap of shoreline in Newfoundland, where villagers make a meager living from cod fishing. Reviewed by Marjorie Hakala

A Visit from the Goon Squad
Jennifer Egan
Egan’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel is Proustian in its ambitions—not just in its themes of capturing the essence of time, memory, and the slippery concept of self, but in its innovation of language and form. Reviewed by Sharon Harrigan

Santa: A Novel of Mexico City
Federico Gamboa
This 110-year-old novel describes turn-of-the-twentieth-century Mexico through the life of the inexplicably named Santa, a country girl turned urban prostitute. Reviewed by Kristin Thiel

Jim Miller
Who are the Wobblies? If you know, and if you care, then Jim Miller’s novel Flash may light a spark inside you, driving you deeper into the realm of hellish history heaven. Reviewed by Susan Solomon

Henning Mankell
This stand-alone novel from the internationally renowned Swedish crime writer is a surprisingly delicate meditation on the failures of colonial power. Reviewed by Jens Tamang

Centuries of June
Keith Donohue
Echoing the dark comedies of Beckett, Donohue’s novel follows the afterlife of Jack as he pieces together the odd circumstances of his death. Reviewed by Andrew Cleary

Love Like Hate
Linh Dinh
In Love Like Hate, Linh Dinh presents us with a brutal, unsentimental portrait of modern Vietnam, with all its disillusionment and degradation. Reviewed by Shane Joaquin Jimenez


Mike Lancaster
In his debut YA novel, Lancaster presents a post-hypnotic world where the protagonist must save his town from a state of suspended animation. Reviewed by Shawn Patrick Doyle

Dreamhouse Kings Series
Robert Liparulo
The six books in this young adult series add up to nearly 2000 pages and one week’s worth of time-traveling danger and adventure for the King family. Reviewed by Kelly Everding


The Cloud Corporation
Timothy Donnelly
Donnelly’s poetry operates on a similar principle to that of cloud seeding—a cyclical logic of accumulation, solvency, and dissolution. Reviewed by Stephen Ross

Dick of the Dead
Rachel Loden
Loden’s major preoccupation, Richard Nixon, dominates in this electric collection of poems. Reviewed by Janet McCann

Words We Might One Day Say
Holly Karapetkova
Karapetkova’s haunting debut collection tells of her experiences as lover, mother, and as a child growing up in war-torn Bulgaria. Reviewed by Alyse Bensel

More Radiant Signal
Juliana Leslie
Leslie’s debut book of poems is a fingertip record of the current barometric pressure, and “lucky we are to have fingertips.” Reviewed by Amy Wright

Peter Richards
Coming nine years after his second collection, Nude Siren, Peter Richards’s Helsinki is well worth the wait. Reviewed by Kevin Carollo

The Needle
Jennifer Grotz
A world is contained within the pages of The Needle: a world “not to be counted, but, like the bellies of stones, revealed.” Reviewed by Sumita Chakraborty

Elizabeth Willis
Willis’s new poems exemplarily reenact the awful and necessary confusions of political discourse. Reviewed by Michael D. Snediker

Rain Taxi Online Edition, Summer 2011 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2011