All posts tagged: Books Reviews

Review: Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea

Book by TEFFI (Translated from Russian by ROBERT and ELIZABETH CHANDLER, ANNE MARIE JACKSON, and IRINA STEINBERG)
Reviewed by OLGA ZILBERBOURG

Memories: From Moscow to the Black SeaTeffi, nom de plume of Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya, was born in 1872 into a prominent Russian family. Following in the footsteps of her older sister Maria—poet Mirra Lokhvitskaya—Teffi published poetry and prose from the age of 29. She soon rose to fame by practicing a unique brand of self-deprecating humor and topical social satire. In her 1907 hit one-act play The Woman Question, subtitled A Fantasy, Teffi imagined a world in which a women’s revolution against men achieves a full role reversal. Women come to occupy the prominent political, military, academic, professional, and bureaucratic roles, while men are subjugated to the childcare and household management tasks. Though the play’s ending largely dismisses this scenario and trivializes the feminist cause, through humor, the piece makes the point that bad behavior—infidelity, sexual harassment, excessive drinking, pettiness—is a function of social status rather than of biological sex.

Review: Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea
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Review: Bird

Book by NOY HOLLAND
Reviewed by FRANCESCA DE ONIS-TOMLINSON

Bird

Admirers of slim, erotically charged novels will greet Noy Holland’s first novel Bird with a sense of discovery. For fans of her three short story collections, Bird is a satisfying evolution of her lyrical, unsettling prose that ratchets the tension between poetic language and mythic narrative, and feels both deeply modern and ancient.

Bird is a ballad to vanished love, to an erotic connection akin to rapture that the main character, whose nickname is Bird, cannot escape, even though Mickey, her golden bad boy lover, took her places she shouldn’t have gone.

The present is one autumn day 12 years after Mickey’s abrupt departure “in order not to kill her.” Bird is breast-feeding her infant daughter after a difficult birth, her second child. She might be suffering from post-partum depression—certainly she has let herself go. Married to the doctor who treated the wounds Mickey inflicted, she lives in the countryside, trying to find solace in domesticity, but yearning for the thrills of the past.

Review: Bird
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Review: The Small Backs of Children

BY LIDIA YUKNAVITCH
Reviewed by ANDREW WILLIS

The Small Backs of Children

In 1964, Justice Potter Stewart defended the First Amendment right of movie theaters to show a French art film called The Lovers. With characteristic candor, Stewart wrote that he knew the film was not pornographic because even though he couldn’t strictly define such material, he could say, rather famously now, “I know it when I see it.” When he saw The Lovers, he didn’t see “it,” that “hard-core” obscenity; he saw art. I envy Stewart’s certainty, his uncannily astute powers of perception. I can’t always claim that I see the clear line between art and obscenity, or the times in which art, for art’s sake, justifies the dubious means of its creation. Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Small Backs of Children is merely the latest to leave me wondering about art and the blurred lines it creates.

Review: The Small Backs of Children
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Review: Beyond Katrina

Book by NATASHA TRETHEWAY
Reviewed by JAMES DICKSON

Beyond KatrinaI was reading my five-year-old son a story about dragons, when he threw me an unexpected question: “Dad? Was Katrina some kind of monster? Robbie’s big brother was talking about her at school. He said Katrina smashed his grandparents’ house a long time ago.”

For most of us living close to the Gulf of Mexico, Hurricane Katrina, which struck on August 29, 2005, was a monster of nearly mythical proportions, and for my son who was born five years later, the carnage Katrina inflicted seems beyond reality, the work of cartoon meanies with raspy voices and serrated teeth. Yet she was entirely real, and the destruction she wrought created millions of individual stories that make up the larger story of our nation’s weird relationship with Katrina. 

Review: Beyond Katrina
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