A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift, The Officina Athelstane (2016)

Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) has a well deserved place as one of the greatest prose satirists of all time, if not the greatest. His A Modest Proposal, in which he advocates that Ireland’s dire economic situation be solved by the poor selling their children as food for the rich, is simply astonishing in its powerful irony. His matter of fact description of the starving poor, followed by his stating “A young healthy child … Continue reading A Modest Proposal, by Jonathan Swift, The Officina Athelstane (2016)

Moon as Bright as Water, by Qin Guan, Chester River Press (2016)

Qin Guan (1049-1100) was a Chinese poet, most famous for his love poems written within the classical Chinese tradition in a lyric poetry style known as ci (also known as t’zu) which was particularly popular during the Song Dynasty. You can think of ci as essentially a song lyric, or “words for music” used in what would today be called cabaret songs. William McNaughton mentions in the introduction to this new … Continue reading Moon as Bright as Water, by Qin Guan, Chester River Press (2016)

The Little of our Earthly Trust, by Elizabeth Bishop, Arion Press (2016)

Elizabeth Bishop (1911 – 1979) has emerged as one of the great American poets of the twentieth century. She was Poet Laureate of the United States in 1949/1950, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1956, winner of the National Book Award in 1970, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1976. Yet, outside of literary circles she is not extremely well known.  The Poetry Foundation remarks that she “was a respected yet … Continue reading The Little of our Earthly Trust, by Elizabeth Bishop, Arion Press (2016)

The Snails, by Patricia Highsmith, Foolscap Press (2016)

Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was an American writer whose works have often been adapted for film, most notably by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951’s Strangers on a Train and her Tom Ripley novels, such as The Talented Mr. Ripley (made into a French-language film Plein soleil in 1960 and a Hollywood movie in 1999 with Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow). She also wrote a number of short stories, including The Snails, here reviewed in a new edition by Foolscap … Continue reading The Snails, by Patricia Highsmith, Foolscap Press (2016)

The Splendour of a Morning, by C.P. Cavafy, Barbarian Press (2016)

Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933) is generally considered to be the greatest Greek poet of modern times and one of the most influential poets of the previous century. Cavafy was born in 1863 in Alexandria, Egypt, and spent most of his life there, though he did live in England for much of his adolescence, “developing a command of the English language and a preference for the writings of Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde.” … Continue reading The Splendour of a Morning, by C.P. Cavafy, Barbarian Press (2016)

Billy Budd and Beneto Cereno, by Herman Melville, Limited Editions Club (1965)

{Ed. Note: The next post will likely be 2-3 weeks from now as I focus on the annual ‘Support the Fine/Private Press Eco-System‘ article. In the meantime, please make extensive use of the Index of Book Reviews to catch up or re-acquaint yourself with the hundreds or reviews on Books and Vines.} Herman Melville (1819-1891) was a novelist, poet and short story writer that many consider … Continue reading Billy Budd and Beneto Cereno, by Herman Melville, Limited Editions Club (1965)

Robert the Devil, The Windhover Press at the University of Iowa (1981)

Robert the Devil is an anonymous medieval legend, apparently originating in 13th century France, about a knight who, due to his mother making a pact with the devil, is born as the son of satan. He leads a life of extensive plunder and debauchery, and is feared and hated. One day he becomes self-aware of what a horrible person he is, asks the pope for forgiveness … Continue reading Robert the Devil, The Windhover Press at the University of Iowa (1981)