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Showing papers in "American Book Review in 2013"


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Gun Dealers' Daughter as mentioned in this paper is a novel about a young woman who overhears her American school teacher pose the central question of Gina Apostol's novel Gun Dealer's Daughter to his colleague after dinner at the Soliman home in Manila.
Abstract: “If you knew that your parents sold arms that prop up your country’s military dictatorship, what would you do?” Twelve-year-old Sol (Soledad Soliman) overhears her American School teacher pose the central question of Gina Apostol’s novel Gun Dealers’ Daughter to his colleague after dinner at the Soliman home in Manila. But it is Mr. Fermi’s emphatic disgust at the Solimans’s shady transactions and tacky extravagance that implants “a dart, a punctuated clarity” about the dubious origins of the family’s affluence into Sol’s pubescent body, afflicting her like “something ingrown, an infected thing.” The memory of it presages Sol’s intermittent feeling of “nausea, an elemental eruption: this split in my soul,” a divisive dis-ease about her and her family’s place in Philippine society. Though Sol eventually comes into political consciousness—acquiring knowledge about her parents’ import-export business, the prosperity it generates, and its complicity with both Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’s “conjugal dictatorship” and U.S. backing of the authoritarian regime—and though she acts decisively on that knowledge, her disoriented and disorienting, self-consciously faulty recounting of martial law in the Philippines (1972–1986) is far from triumphant: more an indictment than a vindication of her youthful deeds. Published by Anvil in the Philippines in 2010 and by Norton in the United States in 2012, Gun Dealers’ Daughter marks Apostol’s U.S. debut and carries forward the combination of literary play (punning and allusion, metafictional reflexivity and humor) with historical reconstruction and political irreverence featured in her previous novels, Bibliolepsy (1997) and The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata (2009). The novel opens with the psychically and bodily wounded protagonist arriving in Nice, France, then being shipped to her family’s mansion in New York to resume her convalescence. Repeating several times the phrase “repetition is the site of trauma,” the novel gradually unfolds the causes of Sol’s dizzying derangement. She is diagnosed with anterograde amnesia, a condition in which her memory stalls at the traumatic experience, and compulsively returns to her single semester at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, circa 1980. Writing years later in a room overlooking the Hudson, Sol wonders whether words can make her whole, if language can save her, if “[t]his work I am doing right now could become a hesitant, crepitating—talambuhay [life story]? A reckoning. A confession.” Addressing would-be well-off radicals, on the one hand, and readers ignorant of U.S.-Philippine history, on the other, the novel presents Sol’s rueful confession of her brief, explosive flirtation with activism some thirty years ago and her part in the assassination of Colonel Grier, as well as a critical reckoning of U.S. colonialism in the Philippines and neocolonial support for Marcos’s dictatorship. While commentators since at least the Reagan era have asked why working-class constituents vote against their economic self-interests, the question is rarely asked of the other side. What would provoke the progeny of moneyed parents surrounded by seductive, sedative comforts—servant-filled mansions in Manila and New York, summer vacations in Europe and the U.S., casual, competitive mingling with Manila’s upper echelon—to act against her family’s investments?

37 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Mills's Tongue Lyre (2012) as discussed by the authors is the winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, with an epigraph from Ovid's Metamorphosis spoken by Philomela: “Imprisoned here, my voice will fill the trees.
Abstract: Tyler Mills’s Tongue Lyre (2012), winner of the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award, begins with an epigraph from Ovid’s Metamorphosis spoken by Philomela: “Imprisoned here, my voice will fill the trees.” In the original story, Philomela is raped by King Tereus, who cuts out her tongue to keep her from speaking about her rape. Defiant, Philomela weaves a tapestry that tells her story, enacts revenge on King Tereus, and eventually is turned into a nightingale to keep her safe from her tormenter. In Tongue Lyre, Philomela’s story frames Mills’s lyrical exploration of voice and silence, of violence and fragility, and of the ways we connect and distance ourselves from others. The richly lush poems in Tongue Lyre come alive with dense description, frequent reference to music and musical instruments (particularly the lyre, violin, and harp), and vibrant color (particularly red and orange). Bringing ancient Greek figures into contemporary settings like a hardware store (“Circe’s Notes”) and a coal mine (“Kalypso”), Mills infuses our everyday experience with a look to the past. This is a collection that must be read slowly, with mindful attention to myth, to carefully parsing description, to the unexpected places associative leaps can bring us. Indeed, Mills’s poems move with the same imaginative quality of Greek myth, refusing logic and leaping, instead, where language and sound take us. The book’s opening poem, “Tongue,” one of two poems that explicitly mentions Philomela, begins with the couplet, “The problem is not night—people gathering in booths—or a game / where you select who to save from an apartment that’s on fire.” From here, we move to “silver bathroom stalls in the Multiplex,” then on to digger wasps, “solitary insects that excavate // nests from the soil and then straddle their prey.” The hermit thrush appears next, which leads us to Philomela, who “weaves what happened: images in a bolt of cloth, a kind of flag.” This flag returns us to our contemporary life and to “flickering paper flags” printed in newspapers. Mills concludes, “Again this year, before dawn, the truck door slammed—I heard / someone cross the street. When I woke, flames were mouthing the air.” Although we begin and end with fire, Mills has taken us on quite a journey, from a thoroughly contemporary setting to the natural world to an ancient Greek myth and back to our contemporary life. Even so, the leaps don’t feel forced or showy, but necessary in order to explore the continuing importance of Philomela’s story and the lingering effects of violence. We understand the digger wasps as imparting their own kind of violence on their prey, and there are hints of danger in the night, in the car door slamming before dawn, in flames “mouthing the air.” This movement between the contemporary and ancient world is a central aspect of many poems in Tongue Lyre, which draw on Greek history and tonGue LYre

19 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, the seasonal variations of zooplankton and selected physico-chemical variables (temperature, pH, Secchi disc transparency, dissolved oxygen, free CO2, bicarbonate, chloride, nitrate, phosphate and silicate concentrations) in the swamp of Purnia for one annual cycle (March 2007 to February 2008).
Abstract: Zooplankters occupy an intermediate position in food web and are good indicators of the changes in water quality, because they are strongly affected by environmental conditions and respond quickly to changes in water quality. Hence, qualitative and quantitative studies of zooplankton are of great importance. The present study was undertaken to quantify the seasonal variations of zooplankton and selected physico-chemical variables (temperature, pH, Secchi disc transparency, dissolved oxygen, free CO2, bicarbonate, chloride, nitrate, phosphate and silicate concentrations) in the swamp of Purnia for one annual cycle (March 2007 to February 2008). The zooplankton taxa collected from the swamp water belong to three dominant groups viz. rotifers, cladocera and copepods. 26 zooplankton species were identified in which 17 belong to rotifer, 5 to cladocera and 4 to copepod. Rotifers were the most dominant group showing highest percentage (47.38%) composition and diversity followed by cladocera (39.64%) and copepod (12.98%). The zooplankton density in different seasons was in order of summer> winter > monsoon. The diversity of the overall zooplankton shows high in summer winter (H'= 0.964), summer (H'= 0.821) and less in monsoon (H'= 0.789). Density, diversity and composition of zooplankton also exhibited monthly variations. Brachionus, Keratella, Filiina, Cyclops and Diaptomus indicated organic pollution in the swamp. Zooplankters showed negative correlation with pH and DO2 in summer season as well as with free CO2, nitrate and phosphate during monsoon and winter. Further zooplankters exhibited negative correlation with water temperature and pH in monsoon and winter seasons respectively. The study established possible influences of the change in water quality to zooplankton population.

5 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: DeLillo's Point Omega as discussed by the authors is a novel that is a departure from the author's more characteristically boisterous romps like Ratner's Star (1976), White Noise (1985), and the encyclopedic Underworld (1997), crowded as they are by absurd yet eerily familiar characters (human, machine, and otherwise).
Abstract: It’s tempting to read Don DeLillo’s most recent novel, Point Omega—so slim, so staid, so quiet—as a radical departure from the author’s more characteristically boisterous romps like Ratner’s Star (1976), White Noise (1985), and the encyclopedic Underworld (1997), crowded as they are by absurd yet eerily familiar characters (human, machine, and otherwise), and all of them chatting; or at least to view it as a culmination of a millennial fining of method that begins with The Body Artist (2001) and proceeds via distilled storyline and structure into this book. And yet, his archive reveals that DeLillo considered Point Omega as a title for numerous books as far back as 1982’s The Names (previous critics have noted four others between 1991 and 2003). And any close reader of DeLillo’s over forty years of fiction will also recognize the title as an outgrowth of one of the novelist’s signature lines: “This is the point.” The point in Omega, then, is one toward which DeLillo has been working his way for decades, and yet also a departure, in that never before has the point of his point been so painfully real and sharp. The book opens and closes with a meditation on time and being, watching and seeing, and the dangerous blur between real and image that occurs when self becomes what self perceives. In the two “Anonymity” sections that bookend the novel, a man named Dennis ponders and psychologically enters an art installation that slows Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) into a twenty-four-hour-long film (DeLillo based this piece on the videowork 24 Hour Psycho screened by Douglas Gordon at New York’s MOMA in 2006). What seems at first to be a Taoist lesson in being and presence (“This was the point. To see what’s here, finally to look and to know you’re looking, to feel time passing, to be alive to what is happening in the smallest registers of motion”) quickly becomes— for the critical reader, but not for our possibly psychotic watcher—a warning about the dangers of constituting the self purely externally, through image and representation: “The film made him feel like someone watching a film.” Similarly, the secondorder simulacrum of the installation distances him further from reality by replacing the real world with the simulation: “The film had the same relationship to the original movie that the original movie had to real lived experience.... The original movie was fiction, this was real.” Connecting this by now standard postmodern threat of the simulacrum to the center of the novel and bringing it to its newly moving point of human suffering is the woman who enters the museum as the man watches. She enters his thinking as Janet Leigh (conflated with her character by Dennis) enters Norman Bates’s: Dennis first conjures his desire for the woman in his mind, so that her arrival in the room seems from the beginning to submit her to all the ways he might dominate her and make her what he imagines for himself. This meditation on the very real dangers that assertive and needy (male) selves pose to (female) others whom they make over in their desired images becomes the unarticulated theme of the novel that murmurs menacingly beneath all the pompous meaning-of-life talk narcissistically vomited up by the main (male) characters in the center of the book. Richard Elster, 73, former “fantasist in the Pentagon,” has retreated from his conceptual orchestration of a “haiku war” to the desert, hoping to escape time and the jagged edges of human interaction. Jim Finley, roughly half Elster’s age, and a filmmaker whose only film comprises an hour of uncontextualized footage of Jerry Lewis “talking, singing, weeping,” and recently (and seemingly rightfully) accused of trenchant narcissism by his departing wife, follows Richard there, hoping to make a similarly uncontextualized film about Elster’s participation in Iraq: “just a man and a wall” (in a remarkably self-aware self-critique by DeLillo of the same kind of character making the same kind of film in the 1971 Americana). The two men sit, drink, talk, and philosophize, mostly, until Richard’s daughter Jessie appears. In contrast to the obsessively externalizing men, and as perceived from the firstperson point of view of Jim, Jessie, 20, is eerily self-contained, “attentive to some interior presence,” “sylphlike.” When Jim notes her “blandness,” her intensely disaffected separateness from him and the world around her, one remembers that other Jim who, in The Names, finds the disembodied awkwardness and unmoveability of the American bellydancer so deeply affecting that he presses himself upon her in increasingly inappropriate ways. Jim’s oppression of Jessie, like Norman’s of Janet, proceeds by way of watching: after she inexplicably disappears he thinks, “I was the man who’d stood in the dark watching while she lay in bed.”

4 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, Zinzi finds the ring in the storm-water drains after wading "shin-deep in...years of musty rainwater and trash and rot and dead rats and used condoms".
Abstract: Slinger in his music videos. (He turns out to be a fake, but is clearly a reference to Pieter Hugo’s collection “The Hyena and Other Men” [2007], also referenced by the art directors of Beyonce’s music video for “Girls Run the World” [2007].) The animals, however, do imbue their hosts with certain powers, or shavi. Zinzi’s is the ability to find lost things. When we meet Zinzi, she has just been hired by a Mrs Luditsky, an older white woman “well preserved” by plastic surgery, to find a weirdly nostalgic lost object, a wedding band made from the ashes of her husband, compacted and fused with platinum. Zinzi finds the ring in the stormweather drains after wading “shin-deep in...years of musty rainwater and trash and rot and dead rats and used condoms.” Zinzi is pressed to find a more efficient way to pay off her huge debt, and one less morally corrupt than the 419 Internet scams she had been running for the “company” she owes money to. She accepts a missing persons job, offered by two of the oiliest characters in the book, Marabou and Maltese, who represent the shady and reclusive music producer Odysseus Huron. Zinzi must find a lost girl, Songweza Radebe, one of a twin, with her brother S’busiso, in the pop music duo, iJusi. Despite the ephemeral history-less “now” of the book (it is written in the present tense), there is much here about memory. Some fictionalized versions of South African and Zimbabwean tradition gets spun into alternative uses. The animals of the “aposymbiots,” as they are called, are the vessels of mashavi—wandering, discontented spirits—which look to attach themselves to humans. There is a lethal stickiness to the past; “apos” cannot leave their animal or they will be subsumed by a dark force called the Undertow. Neither punishment is levied by the state; the animals appear after a crime is committed, and the Undertow emits from a mysterious spiritual realm. But whither the state? As Ninja of Die Antwoord says, racism was “kind of an 80’s thing,” to which Yolandi Visser adds, “yah, kind of old fashioned now, not cool anymore.” Despite the haunts, the book is also curiously, if not traumatically, amnesiac.

4 citations



Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Agarwal et al. as discussed by the authors interpreted this aesthetic of trash as metaphor for a disintegrating ideology of colonial whiteness in South Africa, and interpreted it as a way to welcome the death of the past, yet there remains a whiff of nostalgia for the rotting and onceloved objects disguised behind a self-conscious retro style.
Abstract: January–February 2013 Grime, detritus, and the thrown away mark a particular contemporary South-African aesthetic. It has a Dada feel: walls of old, crumbling concrete lined with obscene graffiti and a desire to shock; broken and dirty things, everything a bit out of place, or with no place; the disoriented and disorienting. One might find Duchamp’s Fountain (1917) atop a pile of rusty metal piping and dirty plastic bottles. We encounter this aesthetic in works like Lauren Beukes’s Zoo City, the photographs and video work of Roger Ballen and Pieter Hugo, and Mike Berg’s art direction in the film District 9 (2009). The dreck we encounter is also distinctly fleshly, organic, an embrace of decay. It revels in the underside of capitalist hyperconsumption—the planned obsolescence of objects lead to swirling collections of garbage in dumps, sewage drains, and stagnant puddles. On one level, we could interpret this aesthetic of trash as metaphor for a “disintegrating ideology of colonial whiteness” in South Africa. The aesthetic seems to welcome the death of the past, yet there remains a whiff of nostalgia for the rotting and onceloved objects, disguised behind a self-conscious retro style. As Achille Mbembe writes of contemporary Johannesburg:

3 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Whitehead's Zone One as mentioned in this paper is a satire of the first George Romero trilogy, where the farmhouse is converted into a suburban shopping center and the apocalypse into an allegory of mindless consumerism.
Abstract: With hordes of the undead shambling across a blighted media landscape, zombie apocalypses are a dime a dozen these days, but when a major literary novelist turns his attention to the form, it’s an indication that this cultural meme has reached either maturity or senescence. Whitehead, author of five previous novels including The Intuitionist (1999) and Sag Harbor (2009), is one of the finest prose craftsmen currently practicing, and something about the topic here brings out the full measure of his extraordinary lyricism. Gorgeous sentences are devoted to gruesome scenes of flesh eating and brain splattering—as well as to brooding meditations on cultural inertia and social collapse. Whitehead is obviously a fan of the zombie genre; in an interview with The Atlantic, he acknowledged that, as a teenager, he was “demonically attached... to the first George Romero trilogy,” and Zone One features a series of studied homages to those movies: the famous line of dialogue from Night of the Living Dead (1968) about the zombies being “all messed up” is quoted twice, while that film’s scenario of a clutch of survivors besieged in a rural farmhouse is briefly reenacted. Yet it is clear that his true touchstone is Romero’s second zombie movie, Dawn of the Dead (1978), where the farmhouse is converted into a suburban shopping center and the apocalypse into an allegory of mindless consumerism. As one of that film’s characters comments when asked why the creatures are thronging to the mall, “this was an important place in their lives,” a judgment Whitehead echoes in his caustic depiction of New York as a “dead city continu[ing] its business in mirthless parody.” His satirical target is broader than Romero’s, however, amounting to nothing less than an indictment of corporate capitalism and the political regime that coddles it. On the one hand, even before the plague that has converted most of the global population into the walking dead (“skels” in the novel’s jargon), there was something zombified about human culture, especially in its Westernized mass-media incarnation. Several references are made to a popular pre-plague sitcom, probably a version of Friends (1993–2004) that was influential in luring young outsiders to the metropolis, “powerless before the seduction of the impossible apartment that the gang inexplicably afforded on their shit-job salaries, unable to resist the scalpel-carved and well-abraded faces.” As the protagonist—nicknamed Mark Spitz thanks to a daring aquatic escape—grimly observes, their “underdeveloped cultural immune systems” left them susceptible to being “infected by reruns.” This infection lingers in the form of a subset of zombies called “stragglers” who remain trapped in inertial cycles of routine, usually centering on work or leisure activities, and who seem untroubled by the cannibal hunger that drives the skels: “They didn’t know you were there. They kept watching their movies.” Before the cataclysm, Mark Spitz had been centrally involved in the consumer industries himself, haunting social media sites on behalf of a “coffee multinational” in order “to sow product mindshare and nurture feelings of brand intimacy.” Small wonder he continues to have nightmares of the pre-plague world as one in which “all the supporting characters were dead...the panoply of citizens in the throes of their slow decay.” On the other hand, the survivor culture that is patiently attempting to re-establish itself—by mounting paramilitary expeditions to eradicate the skels, such as the eponymous Zone One in lower Manhattan—seems impelled by a desire simply to reinstate neoliberal capitalism. The provisional government, based in Buffalo, has been jumpstarting the stalled economy by awarding defense contracts, subsidizing new growth industries (e.g., portable kerosene canisters), selling official sponsorships, and designing plucky logos in a vigorous PR campaign to rebuild the public trust. “The new era of reconstruction was forward-looking, prudent, attentive to the small details that will dividend in the years to come.” It was, Mark Spitz reflects, “almost as if the culture was picking up where it left off” in a vast project of temporal gentrification:

2 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The cumulative force of each instance in which the butterfly emerges, accompanied each time by a more completely sewn illustration, suggests that the butterfly is not simply love but often heartbreak.
Abstract: The cumulative force of each instance in which the butterfly emerges, accompanied each time by a more completely sewn illustration, suggests that the butterfly is not simply love but often heartbreak. Ending, as it does, with a final abstract butterfly image, perhaps Mark Z. Danielewski didn’t trick us, after all. Perhaps The Fifty Year Sword isn’t a ghost story but a love story, a tale of heart ache and the fear that love might be as fleeting as butterfly wings, “dark orange wings struck through with light and dapples of bruised dark.”

2 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Egan's short story "Black Box" as mentioned in this paper was first published on the New Yorker's Twitter account as a series of 606 tweets released at the rate of one per minute for an hour on consecutive evenings in May-June 2012.
Abstract: Jennifer Egan’s short story “Black Box” was first published on the New Yorker’s Twitter account as a series of 606 tweets released at the rate of one per minute for an hour on consecutive evenings in May-June 2012. If its unusual mode of publication garnered widespread attention, its success derives from its brilliant inhabiting of the literary possibilities offered both by the tweet and by serial digital publication. I have argued elsewhere that, since the turn of the century, postmodernism has been superseded as our contemporary cultural dominant by what I call digimodernism, the textual, cultural, and artistic practices prompted by new digital technologies. Metamodernism reads digimodernism as one of the dimensions or strands characterizing the cultural landscape after postmodernism. “Black Box,” in my view, is probably the first fully-fledged and triumphant digimodernist work of literature. It was not for all that the first literary piece to take the shape of a pre-existing digital platform: Sam North’s The Velvet Rooms (2006), for instance, largely comprised exchanges on an internet forum, though incorporated into a traditional novel framework, and of course much literature before Egan had already been published online, including on Twitter. “Black Box” is notable for the completeness with which it surrenders formally and artistically to the textual dictates of Twitter, which is not merely the story’s medium of publication but also its expressive ground and horizon. Above all, the formal challenges Twitter poses would have been those of economy and continuity: each tweet would have to consist of 140 characters or fewer, and to stand alone as a single selfcontained thought while simultaneously feeding into an ongoing story. Egan’s solution was first to adopt the thriller genre, with its conventional deployment of consecutive or real narrative time, its clipped, forensic phrasing, and its atmosphere of menace through verbal tautness and cryptic, enigmatic suggestiveness. Her prose is concise, exact, lucid, and witty, and her poetically hypnotic, rhythmic phrases, often driven by connecting contrasts and parallels, are adapted to the task. With the thriller genre also came much of her story’s furniture: its daunting mission undertaken by a heroic agent, its shadowy, powerful, and frightening men, its ambiguously beautiful women, and its exotic location. Some saw “Black Box”’s precursor in the serial publication in magazines of the Victorian novel, though this is to overlook the vast difference of scale: at 8,000 words, Egan’s story is closer to the length of a single monthly installment of Dickens’s or Hardy’s latest multivolume offering. Its forerunners seem to me rather, on one side, the constrained writing of a Georges Perec or Walter Abish, with their fictions omitting the letter “e” and chapters of words beginning with the same letter. In contrast, though, to the deliberate semi-arbitrariness of such constraints, “Black Box” adapts wholly and “blAcK box”

1 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Eggers's A Hologram for the King (2012) as discussed by the authors is a novel about a middle-aged technology salesman in Saudi Arabia waiting for a long-delayed royal audience.
Abstract: If the new sincerity (a.k.a. the metamodern) is a favorite meme of post-postmodern cultural critics, then one-time Generation-Xer Dave Eggers is the cute kitty whose face appears below that caption. Initially famed for his hyper-self-conscious memoir, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), in the past decade, Eggers has turned over a new pixel or two, remaking himself first as a chronicler of the travails of young idealists not unlike himself in You Shall Know Our Velocity (2002) and then as a far more compelling fictionalizer of other people’s traumatic experiences in two documentary narratives appearing under the imprint of his own press, McSweeney’s: What is the What (2006) and Zeitoun (2009). Assembled in large part from oral histories and first-person interviews, these last two books strive for—and largely achieve—a classroom-friendly ease of reading alongside a clear ethical provocation. They challenge readers to live in the skin of recent immigrants from Sudan and Syria, respectively, who have been shabbily treated in the U.S. They turn away from Eggers’s earliest preoccupation with first-person angst to ask what he and we must do for others. The question provoked by Eggers’s newest and National-Book-Award-nominated novel, A Hologram for the King (2012), then, is whether he still has reason to write in the plain style of his documentaries even though all the evidence suggests this latest novel is entirely invented; it has no implied co-author and mentions little source material beyond a history of the Schwinn bicycle company, after all. Does invention bring Eggers back to self-consciousness and the remains of postmodern irony? Or, has he—as the metamoderns suggest—moved toward a new fusion of irony and sincerity? The answer is, basically, yes and yes. This New York Times favorite speaks a version of contemporary American English so stripped down that it verges on an over-the-top Hemingway parody. So many brief passages of such clarity and startling directness appear that one might easily (but wrongly) conclude that it tells a simple story. Eggers’s hero, for example, an anxious middle-aged technology salesman, often thinks in bullet points: “She was tall, curvy, with tiny gold earrings. She had ruddy skin and a lilting voice.” The narrator summation of these lists is similarly uncomplicated: “Alan liked her more than many of the people in his life, people he saw every day.” We know Alan’s situation as clearly as he does himself: “Alan was happy for the work. He needed the work.” This taste for brevity ensures that, for a story largely concerned with waiting, the pace is pretty brisk. We skip breezily along from one declarative to the next. Faced with so much willful flatness in the opening chapter, a reader accustomed to the loopier syntacical constructions of, say, Pynchon might be forgiven for wondering if Eggers has either gone completely ironic and deadpan. This suspicion quickly dissipates, though. Alan Clay’s Beckett-ish stasis, as he hangs around the King Abdullah Economic City hoping for a long-delayed royal audience, soon grows absurd, as do his peculiarly plausible responses to the stress of waiting. Eggers sends his would-be expatriate off to wander the largely uninhabited development zone observing objects and scenes— such as “a two-story metal structure, something between an oil derrick and a weathervane, in the middle of the promenade”—whose meanings remain opaque to him. Through Alan’s uncomprehending eyes, the Saudi environment appears unromantic, hyper-modern, and increasingly strange. This novelty makes a nice counterpoint to the dull home life this divorced father has left behind in the Massachusetts suburbs.

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Hallman as discussed by the authors provides a glimpse of the letters between William and Henry James, who together formed what is surely one of the most significant sibling relationships of the nineteenth century, by selecting brief excerpts.
Abstract: In this short book, J.C. Hallman offers a glimpse of the letters between William and Henry James, who together formed what is surely one of the most significant sibling relationships of the nineteenth century. This he does by selecting brief excerpts—rarely longer than a line or two—from a correspondence that ranges over more than forty years and consists of over 800 letters. He weaves these extracts loosely together in order to give us a sense of the brothers’ relationship as well as of concerns that both united and divided them. These range from the mundane (digestive problems and gossip) to the weighty (the representation of impressions and consciousness, pragmatism, the vulgar, the occult). Indeed, so wide-ranging is the collection that the subtitle only barely covers its ambit: Literature, Love, and Letters seems to me to be chosen more for its alliterative value rather than as a pithy description of the book’s content. Much of Hallman’s survey covers matters that are distinctly non-literary; as for love: while the undercurrent of affection between the brothers is apparent to any reader familiar with their letters in their complete form (as is their lively rivalry), the extracts here do not address the question of love (either as a concept or as a shared emotion) in any especially significant way. If the collection’s subtitle is only vaguely descriptive of its content, its main title is simply perplexing. “Wm & H’ry,” I presume (Hallman gives no explanation), is intended to reflect the brothers’ typical way of referring to or about one another. William did, on occasion, close his letters with the contraction “Wm,” but was as likely to use his initials or his full name. While his salutations to his early letters occasionally begin “Dear H’ry,” he as frequently opens with “Dear H” or “Henry,” and the “H’ry” habit dies out in later years. As for Henry, I am not aware of him ever signing himself as “H’ry,” and his letters to William generally have “Dear W” or “Dear William” as a salutation. Had Hallman chosen “Wm & H’ry” as a title and left matters there, my complaint would seem trifling. However, his decision to refer to the brothers as Wm and H’ry throughout is unwarranted and, after a few pages, simply irritating. I imagine that the contractions are chosen to suggest the sense of intimacy that Hallman admits he felt upon reading the letters (“Before long, however, the letters began to feel intended for me, addressed to me”), but as the brothers themselves used them only sparingly, the choice is ill advised. The book begins with a letter “To whom it may concern,” in which Hallman describes, with some humor, his experience of reading William James’s letters, and the path that lead him to Wm & H’ry. The letter is an entertaining testimonial to how consuming the experience of reading other people’s letters can be, especially over a concentrated period. However, what follows contains little of that sense Wm & h’rY: Literature, Love, and the Letters BetWeen WiLLiam & henrY James

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The Olympics are branding exercises, opportunities for cities to present to the world artfully constructed model-visions of themselves; for all the talking up of heritage, eccentricity, and street-savvy creativity, London was doing some of its best business in the realm of panopticon placement.
Abstract: The apocalypse, when it came to London in summer 2012, was welcomed with open arms. “The Olympics,” they called it: Tories and Lib Dem MPs from the ruling Coalition used it to bury bad news and deflect grim tidings about the state of the economy; broadsheet editors trimmed their commissioning budgets by filling page after page with breathless boosterism from a few postcodes down the road rather than expensive investigations of foreign pastures; pop stars, fading footballers, and prime-time TV personalities gave good glow at the Opening Ceremony. Nearly everyone, keen post-Jubilee to have another knees-up jamboree, succumbed to coercive amnesia. Forgotten by all but the gnarliest naysayers was the fact that London, already a Rings of Steel enclave, already CCTV-congested and drone-plane-surveilled, an ultra-security-conscious military fortress, had now become a state of exception: surface-to-air missiles were installed on public-housing towers in Leytonstone; the British military’s largest warship sailed up the Thames; the Mayor brought in 3,500 extra troops at the last moment to satisfy what he claimed was public demand. Olympic Games are branding exercises, opportunities for cities to present to the world artfully constructed model-visions of themselves; for all the talking up of heritage, eccentricity, and street-savvy creativity, London was doing some of its best business in the realm of panopticon placement. It’s tempting to blow raspberries at the Games. They compel chiliastic prose, sandwichboard doomsdayism. Iain Sinclair, writing in 2008, portrayed/prophesized the “scam of scams,” a “tsunami of speculative capital, wanton destruction” in which “every civic decency, every sentimental attachment, is swept aside.” But the destruction of the Lea Valley—its transformation from wildscape to velodrome—to say nothing about the use of deadline urbanism (A.K.A. pick a year, any year: 2008 in the case of the Beijing Olympiad, 2010 for the Delhi Commonwealth Games, 2013 for New York University’s coronation—and all existing civic regulation and planning restrictions will be relaxed to ensure target completion) as a strategy for cartographic upheaval is just a footnote to a bigger story. That story is one in which London, formerly demonized as an inner city, an extended ghettoin-the-making that was losing its industrial base and was now in the throes of white flight and ex-urbanization, had become a poster-child for neoliberalism. The role of culture in marketizing down-at-heel neighbourhoods is well known. And the “unworthies” displaced by developers and Olympic Delivery Authority henchmen—whether allotment holders, canal-boat dwellers, Romani men and women, small businessmen who had been trading on East London pastures now designated Eminent Domain—are but the most recent evictees in broader processes of gentrification. The vastly different possibilities for profiting from the Games afforded to local entrepreneurs (bereft of naming rights) and to multinational sponsors mirrors the chasm between a city comprised of an ever-growing precariat of immigrants, couch-surfing twenty-somethings, and demonized estate-dwellers on the one hand and, on the other, a boss class of bluebloods and plutocrats.

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TL;DR: Gopnik et al. as discussed by the authors presented a collection of five lectures in the Massey Lecture Series in various Canadian venues during October 2011; they were broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Company the following month and also published as this book.
Abstract: Adam Gopnik imprinted on winter during some formative years growing up in Montreal. Perhaps, therefore, he selected that seasonal theme when he was invited to deliver five lectures in the Massey Lecture Series in various Canadian venues during October 2011; they were broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Company the following month, and also published as this book. The lectures, somewhat like conversational essays, were the product of a year of research on the part of Gopnik while he busied himself at The New Yorker magazine and with other writing. The lectures must have had visual aids; the book certainly does. It includes sixteen pages of twenty plates, these showing refreshing, lesserknown representations of everything from hoarfrost to icebergs to Thomas Nast’s 1865 seminal portrayal of Santa Claus to ice skating. Actually, ice skating dominates in this collection. The text abounds with references to visual and performing arts, and to the literatures celebrating or describing winter, all mostly western in provenance. Many readers speaking Indo-European languages, particularly if residing in temperate zones, will take four seasons for granted. The Saami of Lapland, speaking a Finno-Ugric language in the arctic, distinguish eight seasons, six of them covering winter and summer, and two designating spring and fall, suggesting that winter and summer are symmetric and prominent in the calendar. In contrast, the seasons of tropical peoples are fewer, more subtle, and sometimes marked more by degrees of precipitation rather than degrees of temperature. Gopnik claims that the winter we inherited gathered its cultural shape in Europe during a global chilling between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. This winter season has also been set up as an argument of sorts with summer. Winter and summer define each other through contrasts: cold against heat, dark against light, bitter against sweet, hard and difficult against soft and easy, inertia against mobility, sheer endurance against self-indulgence, confined discomfort against outdoor pleasure— but wait! What about hockey? Of all the ways of overheating in a frigid weather, Gopnik privileges this sport, more Canadian than any others coming to mind.

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TL;DR: Ammiel Alcalay, the founder and the heart of Lost & Found, first offered this rule to confound the academic conventions that stultify projects as discussed by the authors, which led some of us to Diane di Prima's garage, where she keeps her own rare archives.
Abstract: Although we love to advise each other on everything from microfiche techniques to the proper employment of the en-dash, the editors at Lost & Found only have one rule: “follow the person.” Practicing it led some of us to Diane di Prima’s garage, where she keeps her own rare archives. Others discovered unopened boxes in university libraries or split bottles of wine with writers they had previously admired from afar. Ammiel Alcalay, the founder and the heart of Lost & Found, first offered this rule—he probably would call it a suggestion—to confound the academic conventions that stultify projects. We lost labels and schools, proper milieus, and received historical wisdom, and we found unpublished manuscripts, loving letters between writers who theoretically should dismiss each other, and the genuineness of unedited remarks. Applying Ammiel’s suggestion to himself would be the best way to understand the accomplishments and aspirations of Lost & Found, but his generous approach to authorship and the sharing of credit means that we have to follow the archive instead.


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TL;DR: In this article, the influence of physico-chemical parameters on the benthic macro-invertebrates of the Ikpa River in Southern Nigeria was investigated and the dipteran family, Chironomidae was the most dominant in terms of fauna a b- undance.
Abstract: This study is the first to investigate the influence of physico-chemical parameters on the benthic macro-invertebrates of the perennial tributary stream, Ikpa River in Southern Nigeria, provid ing a preliminary baseline on the composition, abu n- dance and seasonal variation of the benthic fauna. Water quality parameters and benthic fauna were sampled monthly fro m May - December, 2010 at three stations to determine the current physical and chemical qualities of the river and to evaluate their influence on the abundance of the benthic macro -invertebrates. A mong the physical and chemical parameters studied, only water temperature, flow velocity, TDS and conductivity were significantly different (P 0.05), but there was significant d ifference between stations 1 and 3 (P<0.05), and stations 2 and 3 (P<0.01). The do minant groups of fauna were Diptera and Annelida. The dipteran family, Chironomidae was the most dominant in terms of fauna a b- undance. Conductivity accounted greatly for the significant differences observed in species general diversity indices between station 3 and station 1 and 2 wh ich were not significantly d ifferent, since Duncan's mu ltiple range tests indicated that station 3 which is tidal was responsible for the significant differences in conductivity among the stations. Only alkalinity correlated sig- nificantly (P<0.01) with the benthic macro-invertebrates at station 3.