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Katy Haas

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I admired Esther Schor’s recent biography of Emma Lazarus very much, so I was happy to find a new essay of hers in Michigan Quarterly Review (“The G20 and the E17”), and that’s where I entered this volume. The essay’s about a conference in a town three hours east of Istanbul, Turkey on Esperanto, the “international language” first created by the Polish Jewish occultist L. L. Zamenhof in the late 1880’s. I appreciate Schor’s lucid, fluid prose and the way in which she deftly moves the essay toward a consideration of other issues larger in scope and implication than the fate of Esperanto.

QuickFiction - Fall 2008

February 15, 2009
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The form par excellence for online journals, flash fiction is quickly establishing itself as a form to be reckoned with. Quick Fiction has become the premier venue for flash fiction as well as one of the few outlets that devotes itself entirely to fiction under 500 words. Since the stories are so short, it’s hard to put down – unlike longer journals where one needs to come up for air every once in a while.
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In these painfully unsettled times, or perhaps I should say even more painfully unsettled than usual, I am grateful for the few things I can rely on. Out my west Bronx window, the sun still rises in the east, as far as I can tell. My boss will say “TGIF” with childish glee every Friday afternoon as if he had just invented the expression. The first sip of hot coffee in the morning will cheer me in a way that is unreasonably optimistic. And Prairie Schooner will satisfy and even comfort me with its steadfastness.
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My favorite part of North Dakota Quarterly is the “sea changes” – poetic little narratives about books that changed the reader’s (now the writer’s) life (way of thinking). This issue is swimming in fine poems, stories, and essays, nonetheless, I am most taken with these musings about “books that matter” and appreciate the chance to engage with something that is part personal essay, part “lit crit” of a sort, part book review, and part something new, a kind of “moment in time” memoir, for as the editors explain in their note, “the impact of a book depends not only on how it is read but when” (emphasis theirs). Fred Arroyo discusses V.S. Naipul. Robert Lacy explores his relationship with Joyce. Richard C. Kane considers Bruce Chatwin. Engaging, too, in the same way is Patrick Madden’s “Divers Weights and Divers Measures,” an essay of observations and musings about encounters with people in Montevideo, bookended by a consideration of the work of the prolific, insightful, and influential Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.
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Tyranny. Power. Virulence. Virile. Vigorous. Vivid. I finally found my way from the authority to mastery. The New York Tyrant is, if nothing, both powerful (read strong language, strong images, strong opinions) and masterful (read self-assured, forceful, and determined). It’s also virile in a more conventional sense (predominately male contributors) and in a literary sense (muscular, aggressive).

New Letters - 2008/2009

February 15, 2009
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We enter our 75th year true to our mission, with three newer voices in fiction – Olufunke Grace Bankole, Ryan Clary, and Stephanie Powell Watts, who have no books yet but surely will – and one voice established and admired – a poet, essayist, and storyteller – Paul Zimmer…The same variety occurs among the poets and essayists – each generation of literary writer offering hope that we need not stay in the realm of ideology or ideas, but can move to something deeper, more human, more fun.

New England Review - 2008

February 15, 2009
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Fifteen pages devoted to a new translation of Jean de la Fontaine’s 17th century fables in verse (translated by Craig Hill)? How could these little tales of “country wisdom” interest me, I wondered? Wow, did I rush to a hasty and erroneous judgment! This is marvelous stuff. An impressive translation of work that is much more engaging and original than I remembered from college French classes. Difficult work, this example of “Revisitations,” as this section of the journal is called – verse that rhymes to mirror the original with precision, grace, and panache. And de la Fontaine’s little stories aren’t half bad either! These translations are from a full-length collection of the fables out this past fall from Arcade with illustrations – imagine! – by Edward Gorey.
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Anyone wishing to peek into the future of the online literary magazine needs only to pull this one up on their screen. There is a brief signing up process and then an impressive array of work that is available for the choosing. This particular issue has fiction, nonfiction, poetry, “features,” and one “classic,” which happens to be an essay on writing by W. H. Auden. To keep one further entertained, the website has cartoons that are changed regularly, a “ Poem of the Week,” and a “Story of the Week.”
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This is a somewhat quirky fledgling literary magazine that is just cranking up and has fond hopes for its future. Not only are the winter offerings presented online, but a print edition is also available for purchase. The website is a little difficult to negotiate, but the offerings range from fiction and poetry to interviews and book reviews.
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A glorious 70th anniversary issue. “Within these pages we offer a model of what KR has aspired to across those decades,” explains the editor’s note, “remarkable stories by friends of long-standing…and emerging authors who offer vibrancy and freshness right now and who may well come to take their own places among the renowned.” Long-standing friends in this issue include Joyce Carol Oates, E.L. Doctorow, and Carl Phillips. This issue’s “New Voice” is poet Kascha Semonovitch, introduced by Kenyon Review poetry editor David Baker. The edition also features the winners of the magazine’s short fiction contest (limited to writers under 30 with submissions of no longer than 1200 words, selected and introduced by Alice Hoffman); poems by a roster of “poetry stars,” in addition to Carl Phillips (Linda Gregerson, Michael S. Harper, Rachel Hadas, Carol Muske-Dukes, among others); and essays by Rebecca McLanahan, Wyatt Prunty, and Alfred Corn.
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