Open Letters Monthly, February 2012

I’m not sure what Punxsatawney Phil did this morning, but something tells me we have at least a few more weeks of winter left, no matter how mild it’s been this far. So to carry us through at least the next four, we have the February issue of Open Letters Monthly. February may be known as the F-month around here, but this issue holds a bounty beyond expletives:

Greg Waldmann gives us some political commentary on the post-Florida incarnation of Mitt Romney 3.0 and reviews Condoleezza Rice’s No Higher Honor.

There’s a little something for the middle of the month (you know what day I’m talking about): Jessica Miller on Everything I Know About Love I Learned from Romance Novels, by Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books fame.

And poets, and poetry! Stephen Akey takes a bittersweet look at Wallace Stevens; Austin Allen discusses Philip Larkin, who—yes—once wrote a poem about a unicorn (take that, mum and dad!); Maureen Thorson reads Kate Schapira’s two new books of poetry: How We Saved the City and The Bounty: Four Addresses; and Fani Papageorgiou gives us an original poem, The Drifter.

There’s fiction: John Cotter on Eli Gottlieb’s dark “crackerjack thriller,” The Face Thief; Craig Dowd with Tom Piccirilli’s American noir Every Shallow Cut; Christopher Urban on Tom McCarthy’s reissued early novel Men in Space; and a review from Paul Griffin of Ayad Akhtar’s fine and serious debut novel, American Dervish.

And life stories: Steve Donoghue on W. Mark Ormrod’s excellent new biography of Edward III; and Victoria Olsen on the sad tale of Virginia Woolf’s secret sister (and William Makepeace Thackeray’s granddaughter) Laura Stephen.

Irma Heldman thrills to Chris Morgan Jones’ The Silent Oligarch and reassures us that “glasnost did not, as feared in some circles, spell the end of spy fiction.”

Andrew Ladd writes about the discomfiting fascination with writing about bullfighting.

In Open Letters Weekly, Steve Donoghue beams up Greg Cox’s Star Trek, The Rings of Time.

OLM talks to sculptor Megan Heeres, creator of this month’s cover piece, Home Alone, on, among other things, her passion for papermaking:

I love that paper can be 2D and 3D – that it is this super ubiquitous material but it also can be alarmingly elegant. It has religious (holy books, Joss paper) and socio-political (money, contracts), and quotidienne (butcher paper, toilet paper) connotations. I love that I can begin with this somewhat slimy, icky mass of paper pulp and create a considered composition.”

A Quiz for Black History Month, was enlightening (and I did well)—and thus fortified, shall slog through the rest of this short and not traditionally sweet month. I invite you all to do the same.

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