Open Letters Monthly, January 2011

Open Letters Monthly kicks off the new year with entertainment of the postmodern and the historical variety, and much that falls in between: It’s the January, 2011 issue.

In the postmodern department, John Cotter goes off the beaten track to examine Lance Olsen’s intricately constructed Calendar of Regrets. Another review invoking the word “matryoshka”—what are the odds?—is Bryan Emory-Johnson on Tom McCarthy’s multilayered C. And Sam Sacks takes on Witz, Joshua Cohen’s “Jewish apocalypse.”

As for history, Greg Waldmann takes a look at the days of gloves-off journalism in Mark Feldstein’s Poisoning the Press: Richard Nixon, Jack Anderson, and the Rise of Washington’s Scandal Culture. A.C. Childers gives us three fascinating close-focus World War II histories: Michael Jones’ The Retreat: Hitler’s First Defeat, Edward G. Longacre’s War in the Ruins: The American Army’s Final Battle Against Nazi Germany and Roger Moorhouse’s Berlin at War. And Steve Donoghue shines light on the many faces of painter Thomas Lawrence in A. Cassandra Albinson, Peter Funnell and Lucy Pelz’s Thomas Lawrence: Regency Power and Brilliance (or Brilliance and Power, depending on which version you’re looking at).

Morten Høi Jensen looks at Gregory Jusdanis’ examination of the function of literature in society, Fiction Agonistes: In Defense of Literature.

Ingrid Norton wraps up her Year with Short Novels—has it been a year already?—giving the final slot to Nathanael West’s Miss Lonelyhearts and The Day of the Locust.

Andrew Singer focuses on the poetry of Glyn Maxwell, and in addition we get an original poem by Tony Mancus, Sequins are not stars..

Yali Lewis reviews Charles LeDray’s miniature multimedia show at the Whitney Museum of American Art, workworkworkworkwork (which I am off to see as soon as possible—thank you for tip, Yali).

Maureen Thorson interviews January cover artist Anne Gorrick, a poet, book artist and painter with a delicate and subtle touch.

And Honoria St. Cyr’s effervescent review of Wait For Me!, the memoir of Deborah Mitford, Duchess of Devonshire, has sent it straight to my wishlist:

It’s difficult to comprehend the words “last surviving Mitford sister,” just as it’s almost impossible to credit that Deborah Mitford, the youngest of the sisters (known to her friends and nickname-mad family as “Debo”), now Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, is ninety. The whole purpose, the only justification, for being a Mitford sister is surely to be young, flippant, controversial, quotable…. They are foxhunts in the frosty dawn, with vermouth in the saddle-bag; they are furs worn to bomb shelters; they are clever remarks made to mankilling dictators over tea. Diana, Unity, Jessica, Nancy, and Debo—a Drones Club in heels, laughing while the rest of us rationed food, the “rum” and “riffy” Greek chorus to the whole 20th century. How can such a tawdry thing as time ever touch them?

(Image above is Anne Gorrick’s encaustic painting Untitled, from “After Usuyuki.”)

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