Open Letters Monthly, November 2011

The November issue of Open Letters Monthly is up, just in time to remind us that even though green grass is poking through the melting snow and temperatures are temperate, it ain’t spring. We still have a nice long winter to get through, and fortunately there’s a lot of good reading to hunker down with.

It’s a good month for biographical material, with Leah Triplett taking a look at photographer, model, muse, and journalist Lee Miller; Laura Tanenbaum on Vivan Gornick’s account of the personal and the political, Emma Goldman: Revolution as a Way of Life; Greg Waldmann bravely taking on Dick Cheney’s “deceitful new memoir” In My Time: A Personal Political Memoir; David Winters looking at the qualities of Mark M. Freed’s Robert Musil and the NonModern; Chase Nordengren on 20th century scholar Abdol Reza Arasteh and his examinations of 13th-century poet Rumi; Jaya Aninda Chatterjee reviewing Claire Tomalin’s Charles Dickens: A Life, and Jack Hanson on Christopher Hitchens’ probable swan song, Arguably.

In the realm of fiction, Rohan Maitzen finds Jeffrey Eugenides’ book of the moment, The Marriage Plot, long on detail and style but a bit short on sincerity; Courtney Fiske looks Ha Jin’s new novel set during the Rape of Nanjing, Nanjing Requiem; Irma Heldman unpacks Lene Kaaberbøl and Agnete Friis’ thriller The Boy in the Suitcase, and Joshua Lustig takes a cool look at The Prague Cemetery, Umberto Eco’s dark yarn.

In addition, Deborah Poe gives us an original poem, Oz Discovered without Ns or Ls; John Cotter talks to cover artist John Bonath about his wondrous wunderkammeresque “fact made fiction” that uses the natural world as its medium and palette; Phillip A. Lobo plays Bastion; and in his Year with the Windsors series, Steve Donoghue moves us firmly into the current era with his portrait of The Steward, Prince Charles.

Steve Donoghue is also revisiting some reissued classics, a handsome new version of T.H. White’s wonderful The Once and Future King, the old red-black-and-white ’70s edition of which was read in our house for years, and Frank O. Copley’s Lucretius, which I’ve not (yet) tried.

I performed extremely poorly on this month’s OLM Quiz, From All Saints Day to Thanksgiving, but I may have been distracted by that tasty-looking turkey. Dig in, everyone!

(Cover image is from “A Strange Beauty,” by John Bonath.)


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