cambridge book review

cbr 8 / fall 2002

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cbr 8 / fall 2002

Palio del Viccio and the Festival of St. Nicholas
From Aunt Pig of Puglia: Ricordi de La Familia Ferri
Patricia Catto

Creature Comforts
William L.M.H. Clark
Reviewed by Karla Huston

Dogs Dream of Running
John Lehman
Reviewed by Karla Huston

Walnut from Waterloo
Sue De Kelver
Reviewed by Karla Huston

Walnut from Waterloo
Sue De Kelver
Reviewed by Kris Rued-Clark

Drunk as a Lord: Samurai Stories
Ryotaro Shiba
Translated by Eileen Kato
Reviewed by Dana De Zoysa

Dr. Titiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation
Olivia Judson
Reviewed by Dana De Zoysa

Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2
Steve Stockman
Reviewed by Nancy Bird

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | fiction, music, non-fiction, poetry, spirituality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

cbr 7 / spring & summer 2002

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cbr 7 / spring & summer 2002

Veil: New and Selected Poems
Rae Armantrout
Reviewed by Catherine Daly

Such Rich Hour
Cole Swensen
Reviewed by Catherine Daly

Oh
Cole Swensen
Reviewed by Catherine Daly

Luna de Miel
Laurie MacDonald
Reviewed by Karla Huston

Loose Change
Louis McKee
Reviewed by Karla Huston

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | poetry | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

cbr 6 / fall 2001

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cbr 6 / fall 2001

Five poems
R. Virgil Ellis

The Girl Who Washed Her Hands
John Lehman

The Idea and Story Without Words
Frans Masereel
Reviewed by Chris Lanier

La Globalización Imaginada
Néstor García Canclini
Reviewed by Nancy Bird

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | fiction, illustration, non-fiction, poetry | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

cbr 5 / winter 2000-2001

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cbr 5 / winter 2000-2001

Fear and Loathing in Seattle
(Or: How I Almost Became a Serial Killer)

Cal Godot

Coincidences
Chris Lanier

The Stripping of Saint Joan
Noel Vera

critic clown
An excerpt
Paul Vos Benkowski

The Glass Cocoon
An excerpt
Christopher J. Jarmick & Serena F. Holder

Long Shot Odyssey
An excerpt
Walter Bruno

Non-Committal Blurbs
for Soft-Hearted or Weak-Willed Book Reviewers

William Ham

Redshift: Greenstreem
An excerpt
Rod Clark

Strange Fruit: Billie Holiday,
Café Society, and an Early Cry for Civil Rights
David Margolick
Reviewed by Gay Davidson-Zielske

Planet Hong Kong
David Bordwell
Reviewed by Noel Vera

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | biography, cinema, fiction, memoir, non-fiction, poetry, spirituality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

cbr 4 / winter 1999-2000

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cbr 4 / winter 1999-2000

Gonzago the Boy Wonder
From a work in progress
Cal Godot

For Harold Brodkey
Marcus Gray

Evidence
Jan Levine Thal

Redshift: Greenstreem
An excerpt
Rod Clark

Waking from a Dream of Grief
A poem
David Steingass

Glass Cocoon
A poem
Christopher J. Jarmick

Eyes Wide Open: A Memoir of Stanley Kubrick
Frederic Raphael
Reviewed by Scott Von Doviak

Truffaut
Antoine de Baecque and Serge Toubiana
Translated by Catherine Temerson
Reviewed by Bob Wake

At Home in the World
Joyce Maynard
Reviewed by Gay Davidson-Zielske

Somewhere in the Night: Film Noir and the American City
Nicholas Christopher
Reviewed by John Lehman

Hosannas
Katharine Whitcomb
Reviewed by Matt Welter

The Pocket Poetry Parenting Guide
Edited by Jennifer Bosveld
Reviewed by Matt Welter

Nobody’s Hell
Douglas Goetsch
Reviewed by Matt Welter

Natural Superior
Vol. 1, No. 1
Reviewed by Matt Welter

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | biography, cinema, fiction, memoir, non-fiction, poetry, spirituality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

cbr 3 / spring & summer 1999

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car 3 / spring & summer 1999

Daughter! I Forbid Your Recurring Dream!
An excerpt
James Chapman

Blizzard
Esther Clibon

Five poems
From Shrine of the Tooth Fairy
John Lehman

An Award for Elia Kazan
Jan Levine Thal

Commie Dearest
Jan Levine Thal

Glass (pray the electrons back to sand)
James Chapman
Reviewed by Bob Wake

.357
Marcus Gray
Reviewed by Bob Wake

Words for the Taking: The Hunt for a Plagiarist
Neal Bowers
Reviewed by Gay Davidson-Zielske

I Married a Communist
Philip Roth
Reviewed by Jeremy Harrell

The House of Doctor Dee
Peter Ackroyd
Reviewed by Steven E. Alford

A Decent Reed
Bruce Dethlefsen
Reviewed by Matt Welter

The Perfect Day
Andrea Potos
Reviewed by Matt Welter

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | biography, cinema, fiction, memoir, non-fiction, poetry, spirituality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

cbr 2 / spring & summer 1998

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cbr 2 / spring & summer 1998

Sugar Road
Excerpt from a work in progress
Rod Clark

On Levertov
Kevin Ducey

From The Land, Always the Land
Mel Ellis

From The Tenting Cantos
R. Virgil Ellis

The Man Who Once Played Catch with Nellie Fox
John Manderino
Reviewed by Gay Davidson-Zielske

Omens of Millennium
Harold Bloom
Reviewed by Bob Wake

Tabloid Dreams
Robert Olen Butler
Reviewed by John Lehman

Just Above Water
Louis Jenkins
Reviewed by John Lehman

Handwriting in America: A Cultural History
Tamara Plakins Thornton
Reviewed by B.C. Brown

In the Deserts of This Earth
Uwe George
Translated from the German by Richard & Clara Winston
Reviewed by David Steingass

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | biography, fiction, memoir, non-fiction, poetry, spirituality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

cbr 1 / winter 1997-1998

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cbr 1 / winter 1997-98

Three poems
Jim Stevens
From Earth Hunter

Two poems
César Vallejo
Translated by Mary Sarko

Greta’s Wail of GreatPlains Law
David Steingass
From GreatPlains: A Prairie Lovesong

Mitchum & Stewart
Jeffrey Corcoran
From Unconscious Cinema

Pereira Declares
Antonio Tabucchi
Reviewed by Mary Sarko

Infinite Jest
David Foster Wallace
Reviewed by Bob Wake

In the Shadows of Mountains
Edited by John E. Smelcer
Reviewed by Rod Clark

Signposts: New and Selected Poems
Frances May
Reviewed by David Steingass

In the Gathering of Silence
Levi Romero
Reviewed by Ken Hunt

Esperando a Loló
Ana Lydia Vega
Reviewed by Nancy Bird

In the Gardens of the North American Martyrs
Tobias Wolff
Reviewed by John Lehman

The Global Media: The New Missionaries of Corporate Capitalism
Edward S. Herman & Robert W. McChesney
Reviewed by Amitabh Pal

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood
Rebecca Wells
Reviewed by Kate McGinnity

I Was Amelia Earhart
Jane Mendelsohn
Reviewed by Dori Knoff-Roselle

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March 18, 2012 Posted by | cinema, fiction, non-fiction, poetry, spirituality | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Consultation (cont’d)

“And how do you distinguish one creature from another?”

“Simple. I added a random name generator to the program, and it ascribes a name of several words to each creature. Sometimes the names are rather hilarious …”

“Like  … ?”  The Professor became interested.

“Like, for example, Theophrastus Phillippus Aureolus Bombastus von Hohenheim—this one I like more than any other.”

“Can you sum that up?”

“Yes! Paracelsus, meaning ‘greater than Celsus’—so he nicknamed himself. With him I have fully succeeded. He teaches that amusing creatures ‘are made by me, God, from the alchemical extraction of the world, like in the great laboratory, and bear the image of the Creator.’ I am not sure about the ‘extraction’ but, as you can see, Paracelsus realized whom he looked like and who created him. And he is not the only one who has cracked me.”

“If so, then you deserve praise, God, you accomplished a lot!”

“Ah, Professor, if it were not for one thing: These amusing creatures are mostly busy destroying each other. With each new cycle of the program they create increasingly sophisticated weapons to kill their relatives.”

“I do not want to repeat myself, God, but your single time dimension causes the problem. It leaves them no alternative; so be it, keep these three spatial dimensions—they are certainly accustomed to them—but introduce at least one additional time dimension, and you’ll see it all will change for the better.”

“I’ll try, Professor, but I fear that this would come as a shock for them.”

“So introduce it cautiously, slowly, so that initially only scientists can guess the existence of the second time dimension—there should be scientists there, right?  And so on, until you reach the politicians, and then these will decide how to proceed,” the Professor suggested with sarcasm in his voice.

Knowing that the sarcasm was caused by the Professor’s recent failure in the elections, God in his own way wanted to comfort him: “Professor, you should see how my amusing creatures hold elections. Recently the opposition there has won sixty percent of the vote and, nevertheless, lost.”

“It cannot be true,” the Professor was astonished. “I do not believe it! You mean your amusing creatures have been able to think of nonlinear logic?”

“Yes, imagine that … but not the scientists, no. Scientists out there were persecuted for centuries! A few hundred cycles ago they burned at the stake a philosopher who claimed that the creation of only one universe is unworthy of me, God.”

“Imagine that! They managed to hit upon it! What insight! And what was your philosopher’s name?”

“Giordano Bruno,”[*] replied God.

“Nice name, I like it,” the Professor said thoughtfully, and unexpectedly added: “Excellent! Really, I did not expect this much from you, God. I will recommend your work for the prize.”

The Professor looked at God, wanting to see the seeds of joy on his face, but God was silent. He sat with his head bowed.

“Is something wrong, God?  You’re not happy with that?”

“I am glad, of course,” God sighed. “But, you see, Professor, the data of these two visionaries, Paracelsus and Bruno, are long in the archives, and few of the amusing creatures are aware of them. There are now various fashionable theories about the origins of the amusing creatures. While some do recognize me, God, as the creator of the universe, for some reason they have decided that I did this in six days, in the end personally sculpting from clay the first amusing creatures. Complete misapprehension of the problem. Then there are those who believe that the theory about six days is a fairytale, and argue that amusing creatures emerged during the evolution of other, equally funny though less intelligent creatures. That is closer to reality, but they have completely eliminated the possibility of my very existence, while, in fact, I conceived and wrote the program that really drives their evolution,” God said with undisguised bitterness in his voice. “And one of the highest authorities in this school of thought is trying to convince everyone that I, God, am just some mental virus that gets into the heads of amusing creatures in early childhood. I do not know what to say. Me—a virus?”

“Do not worry, God,” said the Professor. “One cannot avoid surprises in such a complex problem. But that’s why it is so interesting! I was wrong. Do not delete this universe. Leave and continue to monitor its development. At the same time, here is my advice: make a backup copy and cautiously enter the second time dimension—you will see a lot of new interesting things. But only after exams!”

 _____

[*] The great Italian philosopher and poet Giordano Bruno was burned alive at Campo dei Fiori in Rome on the morning of February 17th, 1600, after spending eight years in the jails of the Holy Inquisition.

___________________

Ruben Varda (Vardapetian) was born in Yerevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia. He wrote and later published in Moscow his first fantasy novel in Russian, The Girl with a Lute. Ruben is now writing his second novel. He received his PhD in physics from the Moscow Lomonosov University and  then worked in Armenia, teaching and doing research in in the Yerevan University and in the Academy of Sciences. In 1992 he moved to Denmark and in 1996 was posted by the Danish Ministry of Research to Brussels. Since then he has lived in the Belgian capital, mainly occupied with the management of R&D projects, the latest being on EU-Russia cooperation in nanoelectronics.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | fiction | , , | Leave a comment

Consultation

Ruben Varda
From Voice from the Planet: An Anthology of Living Fiction
Edited by Charles Degelman
Harvard Square Editions 2010

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“You’re making progress, Kit, I like your universe. You managed to achieve rapid stabilization. This promises long life without any shock. Tell me, how do you see its future?  What might its zest, or uniqueness, be, so to speak?”

Kit smiled, flattered by the words of her Professor. “You are right, Professor, it is stable, that’s true, but because of this, it is not very lively. Not much happens there. At the moment I do not see any zest, and I’m afraid I have to add one more spatial dimension.”

“And if you continue to play with the initial conditions, without adding a new dimension?”

“Fine, but remember that not much time is left, examinations are coming soon. If you need my assistance, come and see me.”

“Is there anyone left behind the door?” asked the Professor. “Tell them to come in.”

“I believe only God is waiting,” Kit said, gathering her papers.

“Come in, God, come in. As usual you’re the last,” mumbled the Professor. “Well, has there been any progress?”

“I took into account all your remarks, Professor, and look what I got,” said God, unfolding his paper.

“Well, and what have you there, God?” asked the Professor in a tired voice. This group of students was his biggest, and they exhausted him with the results of their numerous simulations.

“You see, Professor, since your last consultation I have considered many different models. You know, my specialty is bio-universes, so I tried to build a model of the universe where at some stage of the development bits and pieces based on silicon or carbon emerge. In the beginning nothing good happened, and even when I succeeded for a short time in creating large molecules, they soon broke up into component parts. But once I got lucky: I managed to create quite a complicated and twisted helix molecule, after which the process went with astonishing speed. And then I set a goal: to create, firstly, a biological object in my image, so that in its appearance it would be like me, and secondly, to ensure that sooner or later the object would realize that by its very existence it is indebted to me and only me.”

“Modesty, God, humbleness! You’re still a student and look at your ambition! You think I do not know where this new fashion comes from? Creationism, or so they call it? And what good is it?  What have you achieved with it, God, tell me.”

God’s mood began to worsen. He had expected praise and support from the Professor, and it turned out that all his efforts were in vain.

Noticing this, the Professor felt his duty to support the talented, but somewhat presumptuous student.

“Do not worry, God, if it does not work with this one, build another universe. Your universe is just a file, and it can always be deleted.”

“I would like to leave it and see what happens with these amusing creatures.”

“You can leave it if you like, but for me everything is clear: your universe has entered into the nonlinear mode. You managed to create life, but it turned out that to sustain one life another one should be destroyed. These amusing creatures, as you call them, will continue to deteriorate and, eventually, they will destroy this very life for which you created your universe. My advice to you, God: Go for a new universe. By the way, how many dimensions did you have there?”

“Initially there were many, but eventually only three spatial and one time dimension survived.”

“That’s it! And does time flow back and forth there, or only in one direction?”

“Only one, Professor,” mumbled God.

“All clear! With only one time coordinate you make them forever hurry, jump like grasshoppers and overtake time, whence all this aggression. Why not try to build inverse bio-universes with one spatial and three time dimensions?” the Professor suggested cheerfully.

“I did try, Professor,” God sighed sadly. “Even worse: they crawl along a single spatial coordinate and perpetually fight, either with ancestors or with descendants, and even with both simultaneously.”

“Well, I do not know what to advise you, God. I am afraid that as long as you stick to your creationism, nothing sensible will come out. Look at Kit and others. They created quiet universes. It is a real pleasure to look at them.”

“You know, Professor, I would have removed this universe and started a new one long ago if not for some amusing creatures. You laugh, but I have become attached to them.”

“I do not understand, God.” The Professor was genuinely surprised. “You mean to tell me that you learned to work at the level of individual creatures? There should be billions of them there! How do you do it?”

“I wrote a little program called ‘Guardian Angel.’ It follows the life of every amusing creature from birth to death, after which it automatically enters the data into the archive and destructs itself. As soon as a new creature is generated, the program copies a new guardian angel for it.”

| Continued >> |

____________________

Ruben Varda (Vardapetian) was born in Yerevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia. He wrote and later published in Moscow his first fantasy novel in Russian, The Girl with a Lute. Ruben is now writing his second novel. He received his PhD in physics from the Moscow Lomonosov University and then worked in Armenia, teaching and doing research in in the Yerevan University and in the Academy of Sciences. In 1992 he moved to Denmark and in 1996 was posted by the Danish Ministry of Research to Brussels. Since then he has lived in the Belgian capital, mainly occupied with the management of R&D projects, the latest being on EU-Russia cooperation in nanoelectronics.


June 15, 2011 Posted by | fiction | , , , | Leave a comment