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Absinthe - 2005

  • Subtitle: New European Writing
  • Published Date: 2005
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

This is an attractive journal with the death images one would expect of the title on the slick cover. Nevertheless, Absinthe 4's prose and poetry present fresh and unfamiliar prose rhythms from the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, and Turkey. Having said that, I was startled to find: "By then I was totally wasted [. . .]" (italics mine), in Sergey Gandlevsky's "The Map," an excerpt from his Trepanning the Skull (1996) which unwinds from a yoyo of drink and railway thievery across the Russian steppe with something of the eye and mood of Kerouac's On the Road. A rhythm all its own is displayed in "The Winter Campaign," by Saulius T. Kondrotas: "The battle of Atlantic City was furious, cruel [. . .]. We closed on the enemy as a squall playing Richard Strauss' Death and Transfiguration, but had to switch to a more potent weapon, Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring [. . .]." In Jaromir Nohavica's "The Wastrel," Roman Kostovski translates rhyme: "In my bleak and brittle slumber / I ran out into the streets / In the garbage and the gutters / Audacious rats would feast / And the warm and cozy covers / Veiled motions over dreams [. . .]." Roger Denham's "The Mamzer," imaginatively combines a, perhaps, Jewish purification rite with the kidnapping of a Dublin call-girl. Everything here is a delight to read, excellent translations, and—despite instances of American slang—nothing can be mistaken for contemporary English or American writing. [ www.absintheNEW.com]

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Review Posted on August 31, 2005
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