This magazine was founded in 1957 in print form and none other than Jean Paul Sartre and Samuel Beckett contributed to its pages. In the years to come, it continued to feature such luminaries as William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Terry Southern, and Allen Ginsberg until the final issue in 1973. The Review was revived as an online edition in 1998. The present edition, issue number 120, has a pleasant mix of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, reviews, and several reprints from the past.
First off, there should be plaudits given for the marvelous essay by Alan Kaufman entitled, “The Electronic Book Burning,” which concerns the lamentable and inexorable closing of bookstores all over the country and the gradual movement of publishing companies toward electronic books. To say the author is furious about this would be an understatement. There are so many good lines in this text that it is unfortunate space restricts me to several, but: “Hi-tech propogandists [sic] tell us that the book is a tree-murdering, space-devouring, inferior form of technology; that society would simply be better-off altogether if we euthanized it.” And: “Had I been told from youth that my literary destination would be some 7 inch plastic gizmo containing my texts shuffling alongside thousands of other “texts” I would have spit in the face of such a profession and become instead a hit man or a rabbi.”
Alan Kaufman also contributes an excellent short story entitled “In the Province,” a bare, haunting tale about a ruthless soldier trashing a village in the late Yugoslavian war. Richard Milazzo continues the international perspective with three nostalgic poems: “Saigon,” “Cambodia,” “The Green Lantern.” This excerpt is from “Cambodia”:
And where armless and legless antiquities
Do not describe the order of the day,
Land mines and leprosy and STDs do –
A kind of generic limblessness
Seems to have taken hold,
A dark corruption of the soul.
There is an interesting reprint of the 1959 article by B.H. Friedman entitled “The Most Expensive Restaurant Ever Built,” and three lively book reviews, one particularly controversial regarding Todd Farley’s Making the Grades, My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry, reviewed by Jim Feast. The author and reviewer appear to arrive at the conclusion that standardized testing in our society is practically useless – an extreme view, to say the least.