Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others | Lou Mathews

Categories: Fiction

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No man knows his apotheosis. Carl Jung said that. No man knows his apotheosis, but I know mine. That particular deal went down in the scrubby jungle outside of Rivas. This was in Nicaragua, in 1987. I can tell you the day and even the hour. April 22, 1:00 p.m., the high point of my life. At noon that day, the producers fired Alec Litwer-Bowen as director. Alec had recommended a two-million-dollar line of credit, to be spent in-country, which made sense. The US Embargo made the usual studio transactions impossible. When Alec arrived in Nicaragua, he handed a million dollars over to the Sandinista government. It would have been a bargain; government support in the form of reliable cars, trucks, gasoline, construction equipment, soldiers, helicopters, boats, soldiers, extras, and rare goods like plywood and other necessities for sets would be worth well beyond that sum. The bonding company, which should never have known about this transaction, got squeezed by the Reagan administration and demanded that the producers shut the movie or fire Alec. They fired Alec, at least that is what we assumed. Alec had disappeared and the studio publicists began cranking up the creative-differences-agree-to-disagree machine. It was quite a concert back in LA; the rumor machine began a bass murmur of overdoses and breakdowns while contracts and legal whistled moral turpitude. Meantime, the studio tried to recruit an A, B, or even C-list director. No one would touch it; the bad juju taint was out on this one. I was right place, right time. I was the writer, I was second-unit assistant director, I’d made a short, I spoke Spanish. Mostly, I was there. They handed me the swagger stick, the metaphorical pith helmet and megaphone. Traditionally, a transition like this would be noted by a newly stenciled parking space and a folding chair with my name on the back: Dale Davis, Director.

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New from Marcelo Hernandez Castillo in NER 35.2

Categories: Poetry

Pulling the Moon | Marcelo Hernandez Castillo

 

 

I’ve never.
I’ve never made love.
I’ve never made love to a man.
I’ve never made love to a man but I imagine.
I imagine pulling the moon.
Pulling the moon out of his brow.
I imagine pulling 
the moon out of his brow and eating it again.

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New From John R. Nelson in NER 35.2

Categories: Nonfiction

Mr. Forbush and Mr. White | John R. Nelson

800px-289_Solitary_SandpiperFor a bird-fancier, I was late in getting to Edward Howe Forbush’s three-volume Birds of Massachusetts and Other New England States, published in the 1920s. I assumed that much of Forbush’s work would now be dated, supplanted by fresh scientific knowledge and more scrupulously kept records of the distribution and habits of birds. And the weight of it, fourteen hundred pages in all—that’s a lot of damn bird-lore to lift. But in 2012, when I took on the task of writing a hundredth anniversary history of the Brookline Bird Club (BBC), I knew I could put the man off no longer. The preeminent New England ornithologist of the early twentieth century, he’d been the first speaker at the annual BBC meeting (his stereopticon malfunctioned), and the club had lobbied the Massachusetts legislature to fund publication of his three volumes. In my research his name kept springing up everywhere. One could not write any history of New England birds without looking into Forbush.

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New Fiction from Sands Hall in NER 35.2

Categories: Fiction

Theim’s Wingéd Chariot | Sands Hall

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Just as Dafne finished her rousing—if she said so herself—lecture about the limited choices for women in nineteenth-century America, much less Britain, and had called on the dependable Serena for a response, the door to her classroom nudged open. And there, peering around the doorjamb, was Edward! Dafne’s heart lurched like an old car. The whole of Friday night tumbled at her, an Atlantic wave full of force and silt guaranteed to knock her over the fence and into the moon. “Professor Hartman!” she said. That horrid betraying flush was, she knew, making her face look as if she’d been in a boiler room shoveling coal. Edward nodded, pushed open the door the rest of the way, and tiptoed, elaborately, to the nearest available chair.[read more]

New from April Ossmann in NER 35.2

Categories: Poetry

When Your People Call My People to Arrange a Meeting | April Ossmann

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Know that lately,
I am giving myself
to sleep as I once
gave myself in love,
my body flung eagerly
into bed; limbs limp and heavy
with pleasure; the bedclothes
on waking arranged exactly
as I entered them.
I am in love now
with rest, with release
from the tireless ego—

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Announcing the new NER: Vol. 35, No. 2

Categories: News & Notes

Presenting a junk store of dreams, an island of dreams, a beautiful dreamer. Death by cancer, death by dismemberment, death by suicide bombing; also hearing loss and loads of loot; Calypso, Ozymiandas, wild turkeys, and Freud (and more Freud). Roaches (and more roaches), a cross-country cycling trip, Nicaragua in 1987, professorly love, and a porn epidemic (plus mermaids!). In other words, you won’t want to miss NER 35.2, just published and now on its way from the printer.

In poetry: NER welcomes Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Matthew Lippman, January Gill O’Neil, April Ossmann, Christopher Robinson, and Wesley Rothman, and welcomes back Ash Bowen, Patricia Clark, Peter Cooley, Joanne Dominique Dwyer, Debora Greger, Bob Hicok, James Hoch, and Matthew Thorburn.

In fiction: NER welcomes Sands Hall, Jessica Langan-Peck, Lou Mathews, Goran Petrovic (trans. Peter Agnone), Sean Warren, and welcomes back Stephen Dixon.

In nonfiction and drama: John R. Nelson Watches E. B. White Watching Forbush Watch the Birds; Ben Miller, on Vigilance and Love Among the Roaches; Kate Lebo Surrenders to the Echo Inside Her Skull; James Naremore on the Passion and Precision of James Agee, Film Reviewer; Carl Phillips Goes Looking for the Ghosts that Haunt a Poem; Lucian Travels to the Island of Dreams, by Way of A. J. Church; Savyon Liebrecht Imagines the Fury Freud Left Behind

On the cover: Colorcode by Duncan Johnson

See the full table of contents, and order a copy today. Or better yet, subscribe!

I’m Gonna Cry | Rita Mae Reese

Categories: Confluences, NER Digital

ImGonnaCryWhen I was a little girl, my mother would play George Jones and Tammy Wynette on the 8-track player. The only radio stations in Charleston, West Virginia, played country music, or so it seemed. My older sisters were fine with this arrangement. I was not. I hated the crying-in-your-moonshine misery of it all, the endless stream of women leaving their men, of men not coming home, of jobs that broke you and then left you. One evening when Jones was crooning between the heavy thumps of the 8-track, I sat beneath the kitchen table and began crooning my own country song, about my job leaving, my woman leaving, my damned dog leaving. My sister laughed at first, but when I wouldn’t stop she warned me that one day, when I was older, I would like country music. I stopped singing and sat under the table, contemplating the grim future. My sister went off to another room and after some time I tracked her down, begging her to be more specific—when exactly would this terrible thing happen? She wouldn’t say.

♦♦♦

There have been country songs since then that I have enjoyed. I’ve monitored them anxiously like symptoms of something fatal, or at least disfiguring, but they’ve been few and far between. I live in Wisconsin now. I drive a mini van. I have an English degree. What I’m trying to say is, I have enough problems. A couple of weeks ago my wife and I went to a concert at the Stoughton Opera House. The Opera House has been lovingly restored to a glory that startles me every time I see it. It seems more like a cathedral than a concert hall, an oversized grotto where what is worshipped is sound and tradition. The act has to be spectacular to distract from the beauty of the walls and the hardness of the old wooden seats. My expectations were low. I would have happily sat with a numb butt just gazing at the gilded, giddy fleurs de lis while not doing laundry or listening to knock-knock jokes. But the Sweetback Sisters came out and started singing “I’m Gonna Cry.” It’s a bouncy, funny song about pleading for mercy from a boss, a landlord, and repo men, all met with the same refrain—“I’m gonna cry, cry, cry, lay right down and die, ball my little hands up, rub my eyes.” All of the good things about country music hit home at once—the humor, the honesty about life being more than a romantic endeavor, failed or otherwise, but being that too. And it had been there all along. By the end of concert, when they played a couple of moonshine songs from West Virginia, I knew that my sister’s prediction had finally come true. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna lay right down and cry.

 

Rita Mae Reese, author of The Alphabet Conspiracy, is a recipient of numerous awards, including a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, a Stegner fellowship, and a “Discovery”/The Nation award. Visit her at www.ritamaereese.com.

NER Digital is New England Review’s online project dedicated to original creative writing for the web. “Confluences” presents writers’ encounters with works of art such as books, plays, poems, films, paintings, sculptures, or buildings.  

Christopher Castellani Reads at Bread Loaf

Categories: Audio

christopher-castellani-2012-by-woweAs we look forward to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference later this month, we can’t resist sharing this great read from last summer, when Christopher Castellani read from his novel, All This Talk of Love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Christopher Castellani is the author of three novels published by Algonquin: All This Talk of Love (2013), New York Times Editors’ Choice and finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Literary Award; The Saint of Lost Things (2005), a BookSense (IndieBound) Notable Book; and A Kiss From Maddalena (2003), which won the Massachusetts Book Award in 2004.

Castellani is the artistic director of Grub Street and teaches fiction in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. He lives in Boston, where he is working on a new novel and a collection of essays titled The Art of Perspective: Who Tells the Story? (Graywolf). He was recently awarded a Guggenheim fellowship for fiction.

All Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference readings are available on iTunesU. To hear more, please visit the Bread Loaf website. 

Cheers to Best New Poets 2014!

Categories: News & Notes

1406596928486Congratulations to NER poet Wayne Johns for the selection of “Delirium” for the 2014 edition of Best New Poets. “Delirium” first appeared in NER 33.4.

Congratulations, as well, to all fifty emerging poets who will appear in this year’s anthology, NER contributors Richie Hofmann, C. L. O’Dell, and Jacques J. Rancourt among them!

Read the complete list of this year’s poets here. 

 

NER Vermont | BigTown Gallery Reading

Categories: NER VT Reading Series, Readings

20140706_180301New England Review was pleased to partner with BigTown Gallery to host a memorable reading on Sunday, July 6, with poets Terri Ford and Jamaal May. Many fans meandered to the back garden of the gallery to soak up the afternoon sun and to listen to poetry about the birds of Detroit, love in seams, outfits, leeches, and the anatomy of Australia.

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Learn more about The NER VT Reading Series, which will resume in the fall, and about Rochester, Vermont’s BigTown Gallery Summer Reading Series.