Welcome to Issue # 25 of Plume.
After the relative hoopla surrounding last month’s “special” issue, we beat a hasty retreat to our old ways in this issue’s newsletter — a few lines for you to peruse if you have absolutely nothing better to do at the moment, and you’re off the hook — until next month.
(Still, I do feel obliged, no, happy to acknowledge the generosity of our contributors to last issue, who responded so quickly to our plans to reprise the first issue of Plume. And a remarkable issue it was.)
But to the current issue: David Cudar continues his recuperation and offers new recommendations for your summer reading below. A long-form review from David is in the works as well, though I have yet to receive the slightest indication of what its subject will be. You will know a few days after I do, I suspect.
Our cover art this month comes from David Mondedeu, an American born photographer currently living in Madrid. For more information on Mr. Mondedeu see the Editor’s Note.
Hmmâ€¦what else? Ah.
Our recently introduced “Featured Selection” is going like gangbusters — well, rather mild and introspective gangbusters, but still. New to the line-up is Martha Collins, whose poems Headed Up North will be featured along with an introduction of the work that Martha is revising as I write. I have learned something of the project, and I think you’re going to find it interesting, to say the least. Speaking of which — “interesting” and the “Featured Selection” — the current issue’s incarnation is one which came together almost serendipitously: a series of “Angel” poems by the Polish master Krzysztof Kuczkowski, translated and with an introduction written just a few days ago in Gdansk by Daniel Bourne, whose own work will appear in our pages soon. (One of the translations “The Angel of Etty Hettesmen” has already appeared in 2010 in Bitter Oleander. Many thanks for allowing us to reprint it and thereby complete the set.)
Finally, for new work received, please see our Editor’s Note this issue.
The Book List: Recommendations For Reading
The Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon
Who would have guessed that after his 17 year silence Pynchon would have so much of importance to say? Anything by Pynchon is an event, for with a master like Pynchon, even when he’s not at top form he’s writing better than 90% of his ‘peers’.
That Smell and Notes from Prison by Sonallah Ibrahim
“That Smell” is a semi-autobiographical piece by Egyptian Ibrahim, like something that Kafka and Dostoevsky would have written together. Stark and intense, the story is a controlled scream of rage. “Notes from Prison” is the writer’s actual prison diary, which lays bare the bleak existential hell the writer endured before he then fictionalized it.
Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith
Her latest collection is ironic, seductive, allusive and pitch perfect.
Scatter, Adapt, and Remember by Annlee Newitz
Newitz thinks that the Earth is overdue for a catastrophe. She also believes that humans will survive almost any global extinction event. Comfort reading for our time.
Airmail by Robert Bly and Tomas Transtromer
The correspondences between National Book Award-winning translator and poet Robert Bly and Nobel-winning poet Transtromer. A dialogue just as one might imagine from two poets, scintillating, inquisitive, and searching. This book is a truly wonderful journey into how we understand the nuances of language and the trouble of translation.
All That Is by James Salter
A writer just as good as Updike or Roth, simply not as famous. Salter’s latest book is a gorgeous indictment of love set in WWII. A PEN/Faulkner winner, Salter has written his first novel in over thirty years. Now, at 88, he delivers to us All That Is. Take it quickly and read it, and pray we get others.
Canada by Richard Ford
Ford’s writing has an economy which borders on minimalist, but his impeccable prose never ceases to astound. For example, he is the only writer to win the Pulitzer and the PEN/ Faukner. Ford’s latest novel, Canada, is more than a mere coming-of-age story, it’s a masterwork of lost innocence.
Cannonball by Joseph McElroy
McElroy is arguably the best writer no one has ever heard of. His novels are metafictional; he stand alongside Pynchon, Gaddis, and Delillo. A Smuggler’s Bible and Ancient History are masterpieces. Cannonball, due for release in August, like all of McElroy’s plots, concerns the pattern of a few carefully examined lives within the framework of life.
Lionel Asbo by Martin Amis
The latest work by Amis is a commentary on the state of England. Amis gets a lot of bad press these days, and perhaps some of it is deserved, but he is still able to write a fine story and turn a brilliant phrase. His non-fiction work, such as The War Against Cliché, should bring him more credit.
How Music Works by David Byrne
Former front man for the Talking Heads and Time’s “Renaissance Man,” David Byrne is an eccentric and eclectic person. How Music Works is a remarkably complicated view of music told in an enjoyable and passionate way. Byrne looks at music from so many angles he could be a prism.
As always, I do hope you enjoy the issue!