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The Massachusetts Review – Summer 2005

The Massachusetts Review is the perfect antidote to beach reading, a cultural exploration that enriches us and at the same time reminds us that we are all connected to and responsible for the world we inhabit. The Massachusetts Review is the perfect antidote to beach reading, a cultural exploration that enriches us and at the same time reminds us that we are all connected to and responsible for the world we inhabit. If we are to believe it, Kevin Simmonds’ essay, about his experience as an African-American, classically-trained singer who finds himself teaching gospel music in an ancient Japanese town, may well be one of the more entertaining accounts of culture shock on record. “[A]ny non-Japanese person who moves to Japan,” notes Simmonds, “and has the audacity to live in a small town, will gain undeserved celebrity just for showing up.” Catherine Reid’s essay is more pressing: when same-sex marriage is legalized in Massachusetts, she takes the big step and enters into union with her longtime partner, only to find the battle far from over. As much as her argument is steeped in civil rights, Reid ultimately implies that the key to equality lies not merely in changing laws but in changing hearts and minds. On another right note, MR has committed itself to the unheralded visual arts, featuring the work of two Northampton-based painters. And the underground publishing tales—banned books, cult favorites—are plenty. Seems there are also three separate stories about American expatriates in Paris in this issue—never a dull venue, but a bit too repetitive from a diversity standpoint. It’s in these cases that MR risks making multiculturalism look too monolithic. That said, this is still top-notch material and can’t be found anywhere else. [www.massreview.org]

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