Books

Stealing Cherries by Marina Rubin — review by Mark McCawley

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Stealing CherriesStealing Cherries
By Marina Rubin
Manic D Press, October 22, 2013
ISBN 978-1-933149-80-6
$14.95 US pbk | $9.06 US Kindle
96 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, Fiction

 
review by Mark McCawley
 

“we waited, in our city of Vinnitsa, pronounced in russian almost like Venice, waited for him every night on the bench in the park to hear his heart-tearing seven-string guitar and every morning in our marilyn bikinis we watched his breaststroke as he crossed the river. i would not dare to love him, he was loved by too many, i was there for my friends, the talk of training bras, mascara stolen from mothers and sisters. walking home one night i heard someone whisper my name. it was Ruslan sitting on top of a tree, stealing cherries. he said he loved me for a long time with all his heart in this entire city of Venice, he loved only me and Luda Vishnevska, whose last name meant black cherry.”

~Marina Rubin, “Confessions of Love”, p.91

 
 
In 1989, when most of the stories in Stealing Cherries takes place, Marina Rubin and her family were refuseniks — Soviet-era Jews from Vinnitsa, Ukraine seeking political asylum in the United States from Soviet state-sanctioned anti-Semitism.
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Savage 1986 – 2011 by Nathaniel G. Moore — review by Mark McCawley

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savageSavage 1986-2011
by Nathaniel G. Moore
Anvil Press
ISBN 978-1-927380-55-0
$20 CAN / $20 US
5.5 x 8 | 280 pp

 
 

Despite all the investigation, there is still much unrest in the family. May as well try and enjoy the time we still have on earth. Well, I feel so much sometimes I guess I just get a bit clouded, a bit off-colour. You know that colour? A trout in a blender or that big dumb fat sparrow hopping around on its twig leg that a part of you wants to crush, and it’s plump and juicy, and you want it to dance alive in your semi-closed mouth, then set it free.

Our house (161 Glenvale Boulevard) in north Leaside was built in 1960, and our family of four moved in one crisp weekend in March 1981. During the first week, select relatives visited and photographs were taken of Holly and me discovering the “secret” wood-panel door in the basement beside what would be my eventual bedroom (1985-1994) which led to a small pantry, bunker or bomb shelter under the stairs. The tiny passageway connected to the workshop.

Each and every Sunday we all agreed the roast beef was beautiful; its heart-red and pink cross section caused Dad to make sex noises in between throat clears. “Oh Diane, orgasm,” Dad would groan, rubbing his grey or brown sweater, overacting the pleasure of each sloppy bite with his prop tongue.

The story is disconcerting. It deals with time, madness and perception of what a family is or isn’t. It’s a study of desire, of memory, death and rebirth, set in a world coming apart.

(Prologue – You Know You’re Right: December 2012, p.11-12)

 
 
Nathaniel G. Moore’s Savage 1986 – 2011 (Anvil Press, 2013) is an ambitious, complex, suburban post-realist novel disguised as memoir that uses elements of autobiography, diary entries, interviews, interview fragments and confessional to chronicle the middle-class implosion of the novel’s protagonist Nate’s nuclear family — bracketed from when he first saw Randy Savage in person at Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens in July 1986, until the wrestler’s sudden death in May 2011 — paralleling Nate’s own search for identity and his eventual mental, emotional, and psychic deterioration.
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Butterfly in Amber by Kenneth Radu — review by Mark McCawley

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Butterfly in Amber

by Kenneth Radu

 

a review by Mark McCawley

 
 
Butterfly in AmberButterfly in Amber
by Kenneth Radu
DC Books, April 2014
ISBN: 978-1-927599-24-2
$21.95 CDN | $20.11 US Paperback
5.5 x 8.5, Novel, 200 pp.

 

“The sole lingering on her tongue, followed by a sip of Sauterne, she let a wisp of doubt pass through her mind again. Without money, would Yves ever have made love to her? At least after the first time a few years ago when she was closer to fifty and perhaps layered with that mature redolent sensuality men claimed to see in women of a certain age?”

~ Kenneth Radu, Butterfly in Amber, p.20

 
Delia, an independent-minded Montreal woman of sixty and sexually experienced, is the heroine of Kenneth Radu’s novel from Quebec’s DC Books, Butterfly in Amber. The novel begins with Delia departing a liaison with her married lover, Yves, to go on a cruise along the Volga where she enters into a forbidden but lustful and satisfying liaison with Kostya, a twentysomething member of the ship’s crew. The trip along the Volga, itself, becomes an allegory for memory, identity, the inexorable passing of time, and the desire to be more in imagination than in actuality. Whether it be her liaison with Yves, or Kostya, Delia knows that sex and money are interchangeable as she is treated by both men as a sexual and financial ATM: “Delia had no intention of letting the body control her heart or mind. Gracious, a boy in bed was one thing, not that Yves was a boy despite puerile tendencies like fits of temper and sulking she had learned to soothe by dollars and talking dirty, but commitment to a man with his hands and other appendage out – sooner or later she paid – was quite another” (Butterfly in Amber, p. 25). Read more

A Passport to Elsewhere by Richard Jurgens

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A Passport to Elsewhere

by Richard Jurgens

 

Cover photo © 2013 by Surya Green

Cover photo © 2013 by Surya Green

Tennessee Williams in Bangkok
by Eddie Woods
Inkblot Publications, September 2013
Distributed by aftermathbooks.com
Providence, Rhode Island
ISBN-10: 0934301719
$15.00 US | $16.06 CDN | 12,11 EUR | Paperback
8×5 inches, 146pp

A couple of years ago I invited some hip young people to a literary evening at Café Brecht in Amsterdam. They were rather self-consciously cool: a lean former resident of Denver, Colorado, stone hash-pipe in hand; a secretive Irishman in a hoody; and a young Swedish woman with tattoos all over her shapely body and an eyebrow piercing.

When we got there, the American poet and writer Eddie Woods was already reading. It was him I’d brought them to hear. But a look of astonishment crossed the cool people’s faces when they tuned in. Soon they were nudging each other and giggling like schoolgirls in a porn shop. They couldn’t believe their ears. What? ‘Pussy’? Kali? Cunnilingus?
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Playing Chicken With Thanatos by Dire McCain — review by Mark McCawley

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Playing Chicken With Thanatos

by Dire McCain

 

review by Mark McCawley

 

Playing-Chicken-With-Thanatos-DireMcCain-664x1024Playing Chicken With Thanatos
by Dire McCain
Apophenia, 2013
ISBN 978-0615903156
US $14.40 | CDN $17.02 | Paperback
8.5×5.5 inches, 346pp

 

Playing Chicken With Thanatos is Dire McCain’s coming-of-age tale chronicling her adolescent descent into drug addiction and the Southern California drug world of the 1980s and 1990s populated by drug dealers, gang members, skinheads, rockers, yuppies, jocks, Ephebophiles (adult sexual preference for mid-to-late adolescent girls, generally 14–16 years old), Pedophiles (sexual interest in minors below the legal age of consent) and other predators.

Playing Chicken With Thanatos is aptly structured into three parts, named after rivers running through Hades — Acheron (woe), Phelegethon (fire) and Lethe (oblivion). Beginning with her own mother’s undiagnosed mental illness and subsequent suicide attempts, followed by her parent’s divorce, added to that the attempted molestation at age 12 by a best friend’s drunk father (along with Dire’s natural adolescent rebelliousness) sowed the seeds of her eventual fall into addiction.
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