Book Review: Time Frames: A Speculative Poetry Anthology edited by Terry A. Garey
Poetry related to the various genres of speculative fiction (SF, fantasy, horror, etc.) is pretty common. You can see samples by ones or twos in many magazines and spec-fic collections. But full hardback anthologies of speculative poetry are rare. So Rune Press in Minnesota brought out one in 1991, and I recently got my hands on a copy.
The slim volume features eleven poets; the only name I recognized immediately was Ruth Berman, who starts the volume and has a couple of nice pieces involving the Oz books. From her “Wizard’s Road”:
Home in Omaha at last
It was hard to believe
In a probable world.
To be honest, most of these poems are the modern free verse stuff I don’t fully understand, and don’t know good from bad. There are a few exceptions with more formal rhyme and scansion, and one attempt at a rare Welsh form called a “toddaid.” It’s not very good, but I appreciate the poet’s effort to stretch. I did like Roger Dutcher’s “The Smart House” about an AI-run domicile that learns from other houses’ mistakes.
The book ends with John Calvin Rezmerski’s “Challengers”, a memorial to the Challenger disaster of 1986. I do not know if the poem moved me of itself, or because of my lingering sorrow over the event.
As is often the case with poetry, those who are trained in its ways may enjoy it much more than I. It is, I understand, quite rare, so you may have trouble tracking down a copy.
Magazine Review: Lapham’s Quarterly: Spring 2015 Swindle & Fraud Edited by Lewis H. Lapham
Mr. Lapham’s literary magazine is based on the principle that history has much to teach the present on many subjects, so presents excerpts from many famous (and not so famous) authors on a loose topic for the education and entertainment of its readers. This issue covers swindle & fraud, and the topic of lying and stealing more generally.
The pieces are all short, none more than six pages, and most hanging around the two-three page mark. A long time spectrum is covered, from the classic Trojan Horse gag to the sub-prime mortgage bubble of the 2000s. After a lengthy editor’s introduction, we start with Lawrence Osborne buying his own death certificate. Through many authors we proceed to Oscar Wilde’s short play “The Decay of Lying.”Along the way we hear from Charles Ponzi (his original scheme was legal, but he couldn’t raise money for it without resorting to fraud) and Malcolm X’s thoughts on how white politicians lie to black people to get their votes.
There are a few original essays to round out the issue, “Rogue Wounds” by Daniel Mason, on faking illness; “We Buy Broken Gold” by Clancy Martin , on the retail buying of precious metals and gems; and “A Fish Tale” by David Samuels, about Herman Melville and the nature of fiction in Moby Dick.
The issue is profusely illustrated with classic artworks and other depictions of the theme, infographics and short quotes. Everything is properly attributed, or at least it appears to be.
The general selection of items is high quality, and since they’re short, if a particular piece doesn’t interest you, another one will be along quickly. It helps that crime and corruption are such interesting topics. The shortness does however mean that most of the topics are only touched upon in the briefest of terms and you will want to investigate further if a given one interests you.
Highly recommended for strong readers who have limited time at any sitting.
Book Review: Letter & Spirit, Volume 8: Promise and Fulfillment edited by Scott W. Hahn
Disclaimer: I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway on the premise that I would write a review of it. I am a Christian, but not a Catholic, so this may affect my reactions to this volume.
This is not actually a book, but a scholarly journal put out by the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. While I do not agree with the Catholic church on some of their dogma, they do have an impressive history of Biblical scholarship. This volume’s focus is on the connection between the Old Testament and New Testament, and how the latter fulfills the former.
I am sadly lacking a knowledge of Greek or Hebrew, which means that I am at a loss to fully appreciate some of the more esoteric papers, which focus on the precise meaning of individual words in the scriptural texts. All of these are extensively cited and footnoted, however, so the scholar can follow up with the sources.
The paper I found of most value was “The Tradition of Christian Allegory Yesterday and Today” by Leroy A. Huizenga. It’s a good introduction to the subject of using allegory to interpret Scripture, and just what is meant by the terms used in the field, including “allegory” itself. I would recommend this paper to any interested layman.
Also of interest was “Historical Criticism as Secular Allegorism: The Case of Spinoza” by Jeffrey L. Morrow. It argues that Spinoza’s approach to Biblical interpretation, which among other things seeks to know what was added to the manuscript when and by whom, reflects the political and religious struggles in his time. Thus it has its own subjective lens, and is not as objective as some of its adherents would claim.
The primary audience for this journal would be Biblical scholars; aside from the one paper mentioned above, I really cannot recommend it to anyone else. This is not to say that it is poorly written, merely that it’s esoteric.