This Month's Articles
Bullins and Me
The New Lafayette Theatre
An Excerpt from a memoir
By Robert Macbeth
In the late 1950s, after several well-received performances in campus drama group productions, I left the City College of New York, eclectic studies in literature and philosophy and a position on famed basketball coach Nat Holman’s last team, to pursue an involvement in the professional theatre.
I say "an involvement" because my reasons for leaving school had little to do with a career decision (gainful employment for “Negro” actors was rare) than with what could be called "academic ennui” fed by a growing interest in the socio-political revolution that was happening "down home" in the South—the bus integration rides, the sit-ins, the protest marches, and all that.
I am, I confess, a son of the southern “Diaspora”. I was born in 1934 into the comparatively enlightened and largely self-sufficient black community of Charleston, South Carolina; separate from but surrounded by the uncomfortable reality of the racial attitudes and practices of the America of the 1930s and 40s.
The Macbeth family name has been part of Charleston history for a number of generations. As my elders used to tell it, "In 1861, just before the Civil War, a Macbeth was elected mayor of Charleston and that man was your great-great grandfather." They also told stories of romance crossing racial boundaries, discovery, and condemnation, loss of fortune, banishment, and.....Read More
Mad Girl’s Love Song: Sylvia Plath and Life before Ted
By Andrew Wilson
Reviewed by Janet Garber
In the 50 years since Sylvia Plath’s death, hordes of fans have heaped blame for her suicide on her philandering husband, Ted Hughes, the future Poet Laureate of England – Ted had taken up with another married woman, leaving Sylvia with their two young children, and his mistress was expecting his child. Who wouldn’t want to put their head in the oven?
Well, hold on a minute, says journalist Andrew Wilson, who, after exhaustive research into Plath’s personal correspondence, diaries, memoirs and poetry, and conversations with her acquaintances, family and friends, constructs an even more tangled web for us to consider.
Wilson traces Sylvia’s short life in minute detail, starting from her childhood when she published her first poem at the ripe age of 8, to her years as a scholarship student at Smith College, her internship at Mademoiselle in New York, the Fulbright scholarship which took her to England where she lived until her death at 30. Page after page, we are with Sylvia as she writes and publishes prolifically, accumulates awards and struggles to accommodate herself to.....Read More
by Fred Beauford and Kara Fox
The Amazing World of Henry Juh Wah Lee
Henry Jun Wah Lee is an international filmmaker and photographer, as well as a practicing Physician of Traditional Chinese Medicine. His life’s commitment is for all of us to live whole, powerful, and inspired lives. His passion for art, nature and medicine, comes from his belief that the healing powers of nature can rejuvenate the body, open the mind, unlock the heart and free the spirit’s .energy.
Mr. Lee is also a Qigong instructor.
Born in china, Mr. Lee came here at age seven and was raised in Philadelphia. From childhood, he always loved taking his camera everywhere. But it was only just recently that he decided to take photography seriously. His epiphany came on a day when he was soon to be on his way to visit that grand natural wonder, Yosemite National Park in Northern California.
All at once the thought popped into his head: maybe it could be worthwhile to invest time, and money, in a better camera.
So he brought a state-of-the-art Canon to take on his trip, which changed his life forever. Kara asked him a number of questions about his new life taking wonderful.....Read More
Which article has gained the most new readers in the last year.
Tied, Sonia Sanchez, a profile by Brenda M. Greene, Vol. 4, No. 20; What is a Memoir? by Jill Noel Shreve, Vol. 4, No. 19
What is now our most popular issue?
Answer, Vol. 4, No. 27,
See Now Then
By Jamaica Kincaid
Reviewed by Michael Carey
See Now Then, Jamaica Kincaid’s first novel in ten years, is a thought-provoking exploration of time and a family, the Sweet’s journey through it. Mr. Sweet is a composer and teacher from a wealthy family, and his wife is a Caribbean woman off a banana boat. They live in a small New England town with their children, Persephone and Heracles.
The Sweets have built up their relationship using many aspects of conventional love, including hate, “hatred being the direct opposite and so being its most like form.” Kincaid takes time seeing the world (its “thens”, its “nows”, and its “now thens” that the future will become) through each of the family members’ points-of-view. The intertwining and interlocking of relationships and emotions brings realism to the circular and disjointed telling of the Sweets’ life story.
Jamaica Kincaid, in.....Read More
The Collected Poems of Joseph Ceravolo
By Joseph Ceravolo, edited by Rosemary Ceravolo and Parker Smathers
Reviewed by Sally Cobau
Late one night when my daughter and I were driving home on the nearly-empty highway in Montana, we saw the most astonishing moon. Low to the ground and seemingly perfectly round, my daughter asked in wonder, “Is this what they mean by a blue moon?” Indeed with its mysterious layering of color and bulbous, plump form it looked like something from a fairy tale, a child’s drawing… or maybe from a poem by Joseph Ceravalo.
Ceravolo’s poems have been missing (out of print) for many years now. It’s hard to know something is missing until you learn it is missing, then it seems perfectly absurd—how could such good poems disappear?
Apparently Ceravolo lived a modest life. For employment he worked as a civil engineer (he lived in New Jersey), while writing poetry in his spare time. Sometimes the places he visited for his work such as Colonia Ramos Millan near Mexico City penetrated his work with a sort of dreamy loveliness. Often his poems seemed to come from ordinary moments with his family. He didn’t seem to crave recognition, yet some of his poems wrestle with the idea of being “rediscovered” in some future time. He declares his poetry--his “sympathies and despairs for/another generation to find.”
This matter-of-fact tell-all is stylistically aligned with poetry of the New York School, a poetry made famous by Frank O’Hara, Allen Ginsberg, and Ceravolo’s teacher, Kenneth Koch. The sly, seemingly simple poems of this movement combined frank assessments.....Read More
A WRITER'S WORLD
A Writer's World
By Molly Moynahan
Comparisons are Odious
Let’s talk about jealousy, professional as opposed to petty jealousy caused by other people’s naturally curly hair-didn’t Anne Of Green Gables suffer from that? We’re focusing on jealousy caused by the success of other writers or artists; or, at least, the apparent success. With Facebook, Twitter and other methods of self-promotion, writers can now broadcast their achievements, awards, .....Read More
A Novella by Victor Giannini
Reviewed by Andrea Janov
Is that me?
I am a tough critic on the magical realism/sci-fi genres. Truth is, they are not my go-to genres when I am choosing a book to read, so it usually takes something special to draw me in. Scott Too grabbed me immediately. From the subtle hint of something awry in the first paragraph surrounded by piles of concrete details, told in an authentic voice, I was hooked:“The last normal day of my life began as all the others did. I woke at 7PM, cracked my neck, and slumped downstairs to find my roommate Jase, laid out in his corner chair. Half a burnt-out joint stuck to his dried lips, fluttering through his snores. Empty beer cans stood post around his legs and dribbled down the cushions.”
It starts with a late night bodega run and a drive by shooting. Our narrator escapes with only a superficial eye wound, only to enter his front door to see himself sitting on the couch with his best friend. Scott Too by Victor Giannini exists in a tear in the universe created when his protagonist simultaneously dies and escapes death. This body double becomes a real life foil for Scott and a literary one for the reader.
Presented in the form of a magical realism novel, in Scott Toowe find a touching coming of age story for today’s lost generation. Two friends moved to Brooklyn, rented an apartment, and built a sweet skate ramp in the back yard – they were independent for the first time. Only problem is, that was years ago, now the skate ramp lays in warped disrepair as does Scott’s life. It is not until his body double appears in his apartment and lives his life better than he has, that our narrator begins.....Read More
Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip
By Robert Landau
Reviewed by Amanda Martin
Synesthesia: a neurological condition in which one type of sensory stimulation evokes the sensation of another.
When I looked at the photos in Robert Landau’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Billboards of the Sunset Strip, I heard music. Specifically rock and roll music of the late 1960’s through the early ’80‘s, the period that the book covers. This was a time when the Sunset Strip, that mile and a half stretch of Sunset Blvd which passes through West Hollywood, was filled with music industry offices where people worked during the day; clubs, restaurants, stores and hotels filled with musicians and music lovers at night; and Tower Records, with its knowledgeable sales people, sat right in the center of it all.
Stuck in your car in the bumper-to-bumper traffic there was nothing to do except look at the buildings, the people, and the billboards, especially if you were a kid trapped in the backseat of your parents’ car or a pre-teen in a bus on your way to Tower Records in that pre-iPod age, dreaming of becoming a part of this world bursting with the creativity displayed around you.
Landau was the right person in the right place at the right time to capture these images — a teenage boy, son of an art gallery owner, staying with his divorced father in an apartment a block.....Read More
Discovering Vance Bourjaily (1922--2010)
An essay by M. J. Moore
When American author Vance Bourjaily died on August 31, 2010, at age 87, lengthy obituaries chronicled his career as an acclaimed novelist (once nominated for the National Book Award) and esteemed teacher (for decades, he was top gun at several MFA programs). To me, though, he was a sage. More like a shaman, actually. Because his words buoyed me during my struggle against cancer.
I was 28 and my idiosyncratic response to a cancer diagnosis, surgery and ultimately chemotherapy was to indulge more than ever my lifelong interest in World War Two-era literature by writers like James Jones, Norman Mailer and others who qualified as Sons of Hemingway. This was years before Saving Private.....Read More
Ghana Must Go
By Taiye Selasi
Reviewed by Jane M McCabe
The hard cover of Ghana Must Go is robin-egg blue, a color befitting the delicacy of its story.
Ghana Must Go opens with the death of Kweku Sai, who was born in poverty in Ghana but who rose to a position of prominence as a renowned surgeon in the United States before suddenly leaving his wife and four children to return to Ghana. At the novel’s beginning he succumbs at dawn outside the house he designed and had built which he shares with his new wife. He isn’t that old, not even 60 years, and as far as we know wasn’t in especially poor health.
News of his death brings the family he left behind many years ago together—his eldest son Olu, an accomplished surgeon like his father, the beautiful twins, Taiwo and Kehinde, and the younger daughter, Sadie. They travel to their mother, Fola, who also has returned to Ghana, to mourn the death of their father, while suppressed stories of their own troubled lives emerge and they are ultimately reconciled.
As delicately and well-told as Ms. Selasi’s story is, I have an argument with it that has to do with the novel’s verisimilitude. It has to do with what caused Kweku to abandon his family in the first place. What happened was this: While he was a top-notch surgeon at a well-respected Boston hospital, at the top of his game really, living in a large and expensive home in the Brookline suburb, the matriarch of a prominent Boston Brahmin family, the Cabots, was brought in with a ruptured appendix and a bloodstream.....Read More
Caw Crow Caw
By James Petcoff
Caw crow caw
Peck away my heart
A carrion thing
Dead and rotting
Of no use to me
May you find sustenance
Pick it apart
Caw crow caw
In the dawn of a mid-winters day
I know food is scarce
And nourishment eludes you
Eat it! .....Read More