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Open Letters Monthly, February 2013

Refinement-and-Elegance-2010

January blew away in a puff of very cold air, and suddenly February, known around these parts as the F Month, is underway. Which means the new issue of Open Letters Monthly has come in like… well, like a freshly shorn beast: cold, but warm only a couple of days ago.

Rohan Maitzen leads off with an excellent, and slightly heartbreaking, essay on The Mill on the Floss and its implacable ending.

Steve Danziger considers David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition, and how to keep from being the worst (or at least most ignorant) Jew in the room.

Spencer Lenfield digs into Object Lessons: The Paris Review Presents the Art of the Short Story, edited by Lorin Stein and Sadie Stein. Has the short story returned? And if so, where did it go in the first place?

Justin Hickey reviews the cabinet of curiosities that is M. John Harrison’s Viriconium trilogy (and though I’m not much of a sci-fi/fantasy reader, I think I might have been convinced).

Michael Johnson gives some respect to the erudite and sharp-tongued Joseph Epstein’s latest collection, Essays in Biography.

Steve Donoghue waxes nostalgic for some of the literary sensations of yesteryear who’ve since fallen by the wayside.

And a little further down the issue, Rohan Maitzen and Steve Donoghue team up and have themselves a talk about what makes Pride and Prejudice Pride and Prejudice?.

If it’s a thriller you’re looking for, check out Robert Latona on Len Deighton’s Samson series. In her It’s a Mystery column, Irma Heldman reviews Peter Robinson’s Watching the Dark.

Gerald Nachman takes on some not-so-serious allegations of literary duplicity (“Why would Dodgson change his name to “Lewis Carroll” if he were not trying to hide something? [Concocting a surname like “dodge”-son was no mere accident, we may be sure].”)

Luciano Mangiafico relates the adventures of D.H. (and Frieda) Lawrence in Italy (“In Capri, Lawrence was grouchy and restless and wrote that the island was, ‘a gossipy, villa-stricken, two-humped chunk of limestone, a microcosm that does heaven much credit, but mankind none at all.’”

Teow Lim Goh looks at the work of U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, and the witness she bears in light of a very subjective history. We also get an original poem from Michael Gushue, the sly Late Night in the High Tang Dynasty

Victoria Olsen takes on the Anna Karenina film adaptation, and how it uses Tolstoy’s latent theatricality (with some timely asides by Virginia Woolf).

For theatricality in a slightly different setting, Phillip A. Lobo gives Spec Ops: The Line a play.

Douglass Shand-Tucci keeps on with his American Aristocracy series, taking a look at the plans that made Trinity Church.

And OLM talks with cover artist Caleb Cole: “I think a lot about the ways that human expectations and desires rarely match up with the reality of our lives and so I’m interested in the ways that people negotiate that. I’m interested in failure.”

(Cover image is “Refinement and Elegance,” (c)2010 by Caleb Cole.)

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