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- By Keith Taylor

Meg Kearney’s All Morning the Crows (The Word Works, 2021).

Shelley begins his famous, “To a Skylark”: “Hail to thee, blithe Spirit! Bird thou never wert. . .” Then for the next few stanzas he works hard to show the “birdiness” of the bird, until he finally gives up in a series of similes (“Like a Poet hidden/In the light of thought . . .”; “Like a high-born maiden/In a palace tower. . .” etc.). By the end of the poem Shelley wants to learn to sing with the bird’s “harmonious madness” so the “world should listen” to him as attentively as he listens to the bird. He’s yet...


The Beers Before New Year's

- By By Marsha Bryant

‘Twas the midst of December: there came forth a cry
From us beer drinkers wond’ring which brews we shall buy
For festivities, feasting, for sitting by fires.
It’s the holidays! Taste all the good that transpires.
‘Tis the time to be stocking your holiday shelf
With the richly full-flavored beers. (Move over, elf!)

First Diwali and Hanukkah offered their light,
And soon Christmas and Kwanzaa make winter nights bright.
O what to my wandering tastebuds appears--
A bodacious selection of holiday beers!
Before dinner, or after, or for a night cap,
Here are beers that will warm you from all o’er the map.

From England, from Iceland in courses they came,
And I savored the labels and called...


The Challenge of Book History

- By Tabish Khair

A Review of Simon Frost’s Reading, Wanting, and Broken Economics: A Twenty-First-Century Study of Readers and Bookshops in Southampton around 1900 (State University of New York Press, 2021).

Studies in the field of book history hold a perverse fascination for me. I can never approach them solely as an academic, for the novelist in me begins to chirp in too. This is inevitable. As M. M. Bakhtin stressed, the novel is essentially chirographic, and, despite the side alleys of serialisation, one can argue that the novel owes its current dominance inevitably to the coming of the mass-produced and mass-marketed book. On the other hand, as a...


Märzen Madness and Florida Festbier

- By Marsha Bryant

Limericks for Oktoberfest

Oktoberfest beckons anew
With festivities, hullabaloo.
I’ll parse Märzens for you
So you’ll know what to do
At your bottle shop picking out brew.

If you can’t fly to Munich, don’t worry—
American brewers have scurried
To release in due season
The beer lover’s reason
For drinking outdoors before flurries.

When it’s Autumn and weather behaves,
Tis the malts that the beer lover craves.
Don’t put pumpkin in beer!
(That’s for baked goods, my dear.)
Märzen madness tastes good, not depraved.

I’ve a trio of them that I tried,
Independents that I verified—
Ranging sweeter to...


Last Summer of the City

- By John Gu

A Review of Gianfranco Calligarich's Last Summer in the City, Transl. Howard Curtis; Foreword by André Aciman (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2021)

Is there a more fertile experience for literary aspirants than to be poor in a great city? Every generation of young would-be novelists searches for their own version of the Lost Generation’s Left Bank in Paris, and a few are lucky enough to find it. Around the year 1970, a young Milanese journalist named Gianfranco Calligarich came to Rome on an assignment for a Milanese newspaper. After his assignment ended, he decided to stay in the city rather than return to Milan, and one product of this decision was a novel, L'ultima...

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