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Aging in America

In Reviews on April 23, 2014 at 7:00 am

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by Brendan Rastetter

I often wonder what it will feel like when I’m old. Every time I feel an ache or pain in my body I imagine it magnified. I’ll often forget things that were much easier to remember when I was younger, people’s names after first introduction or how to solve a basic math problem.  If I’m already experiencing forgetfulness in my 20s, how horrifying will it be when I begin to forget people’s names entirely, when I spend an hour or more trying to remember the name of that actor in that movie. You know the one, right? I often find myself agitated when I’m around older people having a hard time understanding new technology. I feel like telling them to stop trying, but I have to remind myself that there will come a day when I’m old and my grandchild is ready to chew me out for not understanding his fifth explanation of how to work the teleportation device. Old age is an inevitability. There comes a day when everyone is made to feel redundant. Lore Segal explores this theme and others in Half the Kingdom, her follow-up to 2009’s Pulitzer Prize finalist Shakespeare’s Kitchen.

American Formality

In Reviews on April 21, 2014 at 7:00 am

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by Susan Scutti

The sonnet is a formal poem composed of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter, which is just long enough for a thought to develop, gracefully pirouette, and shape-shift into something else entirely. In fact, this so-called turn is a key feature of the sonnet and though in most instances it does not lead to utterly surprising revelations, it is always crucial. Within the context of so short a poem, even a slight tonal shift provides dimension. For this reason the most effective turns are often the most subtle. In many ways, the turn of a sonnet is representative of a world view. In most things we do, isn’t there that moment when our purpose suddenly deepens? It is the instant when passion, once a wasteful bonfire, transforms into a less obvious but more prudent flame.

Art with Knuckles

In Reviews on April 17, 2014 at 7:00 am

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by Michael Deagler

Chris Abani writes about the lost. His books chronicle the second lives of the dispossessed, the far-from-home, the spiritually dead, and, at times, the physically dead. His settings, even when of this world, take on a ghostliness that corresponds to the Not-in-Kansas-anymore psychological states of his characters. In his first two major novels, Abani tackled Lagos (GraceLand) and Los Angeles (The Virgin of Flames), but he has found perhaps the most charismatic city of lost souls yet for the setting of his newest offering: The Secret History of Las Vegas.

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