Open Letters Monthly, June 2013


Today is both Father’s Day and Bloomsday, but any attempt on the part of this post to find a connection between the two is probably folly. I’m quite certain my father read Ulysses, but my window of opportunity to talk to him about it has come and gone; I’d have as much luck trying to interrogate Leopold Bloom himself. On the other hand, even though it’s mid-month, the June issue of Open Letters Monthly is still up. And given how events have been moving along this summer—globally, locally, microscopically—a little bit of continuity is a good thing. If you haven’t already checked it out, or even if you have and think it may be time to take another look, there are some choice bits here to carry you through the rest of this all-too-fleeting month:

John Cotter takes an invested look at Terry Eagleton’s How to Read Literature—“light on its feet and right about what matters.”

Spencer Lenfield goes back to Richard Ford’s 1986 The Sportswriter and does some appreciative unpacking.

Rohan Maitzen enjoys Deirdre David’s biography of “one of the most under-valued and under-read British women novelists of the twentieth century,” Olivia Manning: A Woman at War.

Jerry White looks at Fintan O’Toole’s trilogy dissecting the end of the “Celtic Tiger,” Up the Republic! Towards a New Ireland, Enough is Enough: How to Build a New Republic, and Ship of Fools: How Stupidity and Corruption Sank the Celtic Tiger.

Steve Donoghue examines some alt-Tudor fiction, Laura Anderson’s The Boleyn King, in the company of Hilary Mantel’s wonderful Bring Up the Bodies.

Alyssa Mackenzie has good things to say about Sandra Djwa’s Journey with No Maps: A Life of P.K. Page—“The most important Canadian author you probably never heard of.”

From Jessica Smith, an original poem: wild swans.

Matt Sadler looks at each of the five Great Gatsby film adaptations—good Gatsbys, mediocre Gatsbys, and seriously ambitious-but-flawed Gatsbys.

Nicole Perrin fears the psychological insight Jane Gardam brings to her characters might have peaked well before Last Friends—“the novel may raise suspicions that all the most interesting things already happened, halfway around the world, at a very different time.”

Phillip A. Lobo plays the disturbingly violent Hotline Miami and the “dystopian document thriller” Papers, Please.

In her It’s a Mystery column, Irma Heldman reminds us that “It’s a whole new espionage world,” and John le Carré’s A Delicate Truth and Jason Matthews’ Red Sparrow are proof.

In his America Aristocracy column, Douglass Shand-Tucci takes a look at what—and who—moved Copley Square artist F. Holland Day.

This month’s cover image is “96th Street,” by OLM editor-at-large Jeffrey Eaton.


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