Reviews - January 2012

Serious play

A review of Yahia Lababidi's 'Trial by Ink'

As the subtitle — “from Nietzsche to Belly Dancing” — suggests, Yahia Lababidi’s essays wiggle their hips in many directions, from sacred to arcane, from pop to professorial. What he admires in Wilde is just this, the writer’s “ability to play with serious subjects. To make light of them” (12). In fact, the true subject of Lababidi’s writing would seem to be these poignant interchanges between seemingly disparate spheres.

A point of view where there are no voiceless people

A review of John Roche's 'Road Ghosts'

John Roche speaks to the ghosts of the road he traveled as a teenage runaway in the early seventies. He rescues their stories, recounts their lives. And, for his unwavering stance as a critic of social and economic injustice, this American poet hitchhiked, tasted Southern “hospitality,” was jailed, held the magic wand, read Yeats by firelight, revisited Route 66, sang the song of the wandering Owlsley, departed El Dorado, and passed over the Rainbow Bridge with psychotropic colors.

The imagination's shifts between stability and disorientation

A review of Joel Bettridge's 'Reading as Belief'

Last fall, I asked Jacket2 if I could review Joel Bettridge’s Reading as Belief. The book closely considers the relationship between acts of faith and the practice of reading, and both are processes that are of primary interest to me. Reading and belief are similar, Bettridge claims, because both entail vulnerability, willed credulity, and commitment. As such, both reading and faith are systems of valuation that make demands on those who subscribe to their terms.  Through a series of coincidences and mutual friends, Bettridge and I met electronically. I had already written the following summary of the book. This served as a starting point for our conversation and so I include it and Bettridge’s first response here. The questions and dialogue that ensued follow this summary of the book.  Elizabeth Robinson    


A review of Jenny Boully's 'not merely because of the unknown that was stalking towards them'

You’ve gone and forgotten all about your muffins, and you’ll now make
excuses and say well then they were only make-believe, but we all know
better: a fire and smoke that’s been here for days and days. (35)