Monday, December 07, 2009

Stuffing your virtual stocking early, it's the The Quarterly Conversation!

{Grinchy-looking photo by rocketlass. I am reading a novel about the plague, which seems like a sufficient excuse for the frown.}

Various holiday travels (to say nothing of holiday planning, shopping, socializing, or egg nog drinking) may result in spottier-than-usual posting through the month. Fortunately, the new Winter issue of the Quarterly Conversation just hit the virtual newsstand, so no matter how badly I may fall down on the job you'll have more than enough to keep you busy as Christmas nears.

My review this time is of Rachel Loden's new book of poetry, Dick of the Dead; the Dick of the title is Nixon, whose jowly growl Loden conjures vividly, more than once from beyond the grave. Other highlights include Ron Slate's review of Farrah Field's Rising, George Fragopoulos's essay on Mahmoud Darwish in English, and Barrett Hathcock's review of The Ask, by the bitingly hilarious Sam Lipsyte ("How are you to review a book that simply frightens you?").

The most impressive piece in the issue, however, is "Translate This Book!," which collects responses from a wide variety of authors, translators, critics, and publishing folks to the question, "What is the best book you know that's never been translated into English?" The resulting list is enough to make you want to learn a dozen languages; barring that, I'll settle for getting it into the hands of some adventurous acquisitions editors.

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