Saturday, January 15, 2011
A BagelBards Book Review
“What May Have Been”
Letters of Jackson Pollock & Dori G
By Susan Tepper & Gary Percesepe
Cervena Barva Press, Price $15
Reviewed by Paul Steven Stone
“What May Have Been” is an epistolary novel chronicling the passionate clandestine relationship of Jackson Pollock and a younger, Vassar exile named Dori G. Reading at times like a poetic skirmish in the courtship wars, “What May Have Been” has all the color, energy and brilliance—not to mention abstract logic—of one of Pollock’s paint-spattered canvases. The language is rich and (on Pollock’s side) fevered and scatological; the novel’s energy propelled by a heady mixture of raw desire and intimate longing.
Rendered by two writers who clearly enjoy crafting lives and ideas from words, the novel is even more remarkable for the fact that each of the authors gave voice to the character of the opposite sex. Their efforts succeed so well it is impossible to detect one false step or inappropriate allusion in this rigorous literary challenge they set for themselves. And so, throughout the novel and its artfully drawn relationship, the voices ring true.
“What May Have Been” portrays the shadow life of an iconic modern artist through letters fanciful, impetuous and most of all, richly entertaining. It is highly recommended.
Monday, January 10, 2011
REVIEW OF “WHAT TO DO WITH A DYING PARAKEET’ by Corey Cook,
17 pages, Pudding House Press Chapbook Series, Pudding House Publications, 81 Shadymere Lane, Columbus, Ohio 43213, www.puddinghouse.com, 2009, $10.
Review by Barbara Bialick
I love this perfect little chapbook, for each poem is succinctly edited, has excellent imagery and symbolism, and taken as a whole, the book expresses how death can’t take away the charmed images in his mind that affected his growing up and his coming of age. He considers not only the law of nature and the life cycle, as regards his grandparents, but the changeable stuff of American popular culture that went on at the time. He also manages to make one consider the morality of interfering with death in nature, as is symbolized in the poem “What to Do with A Dying Parakeet” and also “Spring”.
This would be a good book to bring to a poetry class or workshop to study or remark on. They actually have a “how to publish” ring to them. All the poems were first published in literary journals, then they were brought together in this book, which is just long enough. Each poem can stand on its own; it is not just a story told in a series of poems.
I agree with the publisher who writes to the reader: “You selected language art that took as long to create as paintings or other fine art.”
The first poem, “Sunday Mornings at Grammy and Grandpa’s” is full of detail “of floral couches and chairs, Grammy humming above a sizzling pan, spatula clacking. Meant/rubbing bare feet on the braided rug, Charles/Kuralt, Grandpa’s presence veiled by a robe/and the Valley News or the latest issue of Popular/Mechanics…”
But in “Thanksgiving” we learn of “the graveyard where Granddad is buried,” right near his house where “Grammy perches in her chair,/her back to a series of windows which look out/into the adjacent graveyard. She sits and smiles,/smiles and laughs in front of the windows, the family/headstone an unyielding omen behind her bald head.”
Corey Cook edits “The Orange Room Review” with his wife, Rachael. They live in Contoocook, New Hampshire with their daughter.
Sunday, January 09, 2011
Daniel Kimmel: The Critic of Ball Square
By Doug Holder
An amazing thing happened at the Diesel Café in Davis Square on a Saturday afternoon—I actually secured a seat. Amidst the happy din of people taking shelter from a cold winter’s afternoon; I met with TV and movie critic Daniel Kimmel. Kimmel told me that after his marriage broke up he left Brookline, Mass for the balm of Ball Square, Somerville. Kimmel, 55, has written for a variety of publications during his long career including “Variety,” “The Worcester Telegram & Gazette,” “The Jewish Advocate,” "The Boston Globe," "The Christian Science Monitor," to name a few. He has also met or interviewed celebrities like Gene Roddenberry, Edwin Buzz Aldrin, Jonathan Winter, and John Clesse, among many others.
Kimmel has five books in print including “I’ll Have What She’s Having: Behind the Scenes of the Great Romantic Comedies.” His book about FOX TV (“The Fourth Network”) won the Cable Award for the best book about the TV industry in 2004.
Like many a transplanted writer in our burg Kimmel has not had to look hard to find the charms of Somerville, Mass. He said Ball Square is the “Breakfast Capital” with such eateries as “True Grounds” to satisfy the Somervillian gourmet or gourmand. The only thing that Kimmel bemoans is the lack of bookstores in Somerville, and mourns the loss of McIntyre and Moore in Davis Square.
I asked Kimmel if he found Somerville a “cinematic” city. He said: “The Rosebud Café in Davis Square is very film noir and Ball Square’s Kelly’s Diner would be a perfect fit for a 1950’s film.”
I had to ask Kimmel what his favorite lawyer movies are, since he was once a practicing barrister. Surprisingly he said: “I didn’t like "The Verdict” because I know enough about how the courts run that I could see the flaws in the movie.” However, Kimmel was very positive about my favorites “Twelve Angry Men,” and “Inherit the Wind.”
Of course, being a lover of Boston-based cinema I asked Kimmel what his favorite films were in this genre. He didn’t think all that much of my choice ”The Friends of Eddie Coyle,” but was very up on “Mystic River,” and” Gone, Baby, Gone.”
Kimmel wears many hats to make a living—one is a teacher’s cap. He has taught Film at Suffolk University in Boston for many years. He tells his student charges to get to know a genre of film like Westerns—so they will become intimate with that genre’s elements and writing about it will become second nature.
The critic quotes Mari Puzo, (the author of “The Godfather") “Don’t bore them” when he teaches writing. He said if the writer is bored with his own work he or she can be sure the reader will feel the same way. And like most accomplished scribes he believes in multiple revisions and drafts.
Kimmel is also a Science Fiction aficionado and counts Philip K. Dick as one of his favorite authors. In fact the ever prolific Kimmel has a new book coming out titled: “Jar Jar Binks Must Die... and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies.” Now if you can make heads or tails of that title my hat is off to you!
Dan advises aspiring writers to teach, write for a number of publications, but most of all hustle, in order to develop a career in this market. Kimmel has hand in a lot of things, but he impresses me with a man with a passion for his work—and he is a lucky man indeed.