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Cannibal is Africa from the insideinside the head of a woman who fears that the man she loves is CIA, that the film the're supposed to make is his cover, that she might be pregnant. A haunting story of survival, Cannibal lays bare a woman's greatest hungers. Known as Good-for-Nothing by the Africans unfit for the climate, the work, or frienship, she struggles for recognition, and for her life. What she finds, wandering the savannah for months, are the "blue people", those with AIDS who have been left to die in an abandoned British outpost. But this is only counterpoint to her own predicament. "Trust hasn't enough syllables," she says, regarding her lover walking ahead of her. "He doesn't look at it. I can't not look, but he won't look." In Cannibal, nobody wants to lookthe differences are too frightening, the truth too stark, the love too little. A step beyond Heart of Darkness, Cannibal is the virtual reality of exotic paranoia where, when the images break apart, Death grins out.
Inhabiting a world that offers no guarantee of any veracity, the characters in these peculiar stories are driven to and goaded by compulsive and perhaps pointless reflection. They are haunted by unrelenting consciousness and knowledge of failure, yet are, at best, ambivalent toward any conventional equation of success. Theirs is a world of broken relationships, futile memory, constant appetite, and the certain knowledge that they are winding down in a culture in which it is impossible to do—or know—the right thing. Frustrated and obsessed, they cannot articulate their lives and are entranced by the strangeness of the everyday. Written with keen intelligence and biting humor, Carbine is a book about the ridiculousness of contemporary life—a book about what cannot be said.
The publication of Nikolay Leskov's masterpiece, The Cathedral Clergy, in 1872 marked the beginning of the author’s lasting popularity among his countrymen, who were captivated by its superb storytelling, its living, breathing characters from all classes of society, its wit and humor, its fresh style, and its treatment of spiritual themes. Leskov’s fictitious Old Town is a microcosm of rural Russia; his chief protagonists, Father Savely and Deacon Achilles, two of the most famous characters in Russian literature, are unforgettable. As beloved by Russians as the works of Leskov’s better known fellow writers, The Cathedral Clergy offers, in its unusual subject matter and unconventional structure, a unique approach to the Russian Realist novel. This “chronicle,” as the author called it, is difficult to categorize. Largely realistic, even naturalistic in places, it also waxes lyrical, particularly in its gripping descriptions of nature. It is the tale of a town, an adventure story, a love story (of a happy marriage), a life of a modern martyr, a comedy as well as a tragedy. Given its vivid style, rife with archaisms, colloquialisms, mispronunciations, dialect words, folklore, songs, intentionally bad poetry, and puns, The Cathedral Clergy has proven nearly impossible to translate. This expert annotated translation, however, now affords English speakers the pleasure of discovering a nineteenth-century Russian novel that Russian readers have long since considered a classic.
A Novel in Stories
Catina’s Haircut: A Novel in Stories spans four generations of a peasant family in the brutal poverty of post-Unification southern Italy and in an immigrant’s United States. The women in these tales dare to cross boundaries by discovering magical leaps inherent in the landscape, in themselves, and in the stories they tell and retell of family tragedy at a time of political unrest. Through an oral tradition embedded in the stone of memory and the flow of its reinvention, their passionate tale of resistance and transformation courses forward into new generations in a new world.
A woman threatens to join the land reform struggle in her Calabrian hill town, against her husband’s will, during a call for revolution in 1919. A brother and sister turn to the village sorceress in Fascist Italy to bring rain to their father’s drought-stricken farm. In Pittsburgh, new immigrants witness a miraculous rescue during the Great Flood of 1936. A young girl courageously dives into the Allegheny River to save her grandfather’s only memento of the old country. With only broken English to guide her, a widow hops a bus in search of live chickens to cook for Easter dinner in her husband’s memory. An aging woman in the title story is on a quest to cut the ankle-length hair as hard as the rocky soil of Calabria in a drought. A lonely woman who survived World War II bombings in her close-knit village, struggles to find community as a recent immigrant. A daughter visits her mother’s hill town to try and fulfill a wish for her to see the Fata Morgana. These haunting images permeate Corso’s linked stories of loss, hope, struggle, and freedom.
An official selection of The Sons of Italy® Book Club
The nine stories of CAUTION Men in Trees capture the pressure, need, and frequent helplessness of people confronted with intractable reality. As suggested by the collection's epigraph from Superman—"Did you say kryptonite?"—the characters in these stories have reached a point where they realize that parts of their lives are coming undone, and that their own thoughts and actions—or, frequently, the failure to act soon enough—are the cause. Though settings and situations vary, the same sense of overwhelming urgency recurs throughout the collection. The stories reflect a world distressed by conflict and settings fraught with the occurrences of personal violence.
Against the background of the O. J. Simpson trial, a man refuses to assist in a friend's suicide and realizes that he has been avoiding many unpleasant truths about himself and his life. A son faced with his father's debilitating stroke sees that he must ultimately confront the mortality and feelings of grief that he has been concealing. In the title story, the film Bugsy and talk about the disappointing reality of pop-culture heroes set the scene for a husband's frightening confrontation with his own limitations. The shock of stark revelation combines with tightly wound chains of suggestive events to create a collection of gripping, edgy stories about characters who, however battered, survive.
As Morris resides with his family over his Dauphin Street store, enjoys cigars with his Cuban friend Pablo Pastor, and makes "a living not a killing," his tale begins with glimpses of the old Confederacy, continues through a tumultuous Armistice Day, and leads up to the hard-won victories of World War II. Along the way Morris sells shoes and sofas and endures Klan violence, religious zealotry, and financial triumphs and heartbreaks. With his devoted Miriam, who nurses memories of Brooklyn and Romania, he raises four adventurous children whose own journeys take them to New Orleans and Atlanta and involve romance, ambition and tragic loss.
At turns lyrical, comic, and melancholy, this tale takes inspiration from its title. This Romanian expression with an Alabama twist is symbolic of the strivings of ordinary folks for sustenance, for the realization of their hopes and dreams. Set largely on a few humble blocks yet engaging many parts of the world, this Southern Jewish novel is, ultimately, richly American.
A Study of a Peculiar People
In its first appearance in 1892, Israel Zangwill's Children of the Ghetto created a sensation in both England and America, becoming the first Anglo-Jewish bestseller and establishing Zangwill as the literary voice of Anglo-Jewry. A novel set in late nineteenth-century London, Children of the Ghetto gave an inside look into an immigrant community that was almost as mysterious to the more established middle-class Jews of Britain as to the non-Jewish population, providing a compelling analysis of a generation caught between the ghetto and modern British life. This volume brings back to print the 1895 edition of Children of the Ghetto, the latest American version known to have been corrected by the author. Meri-Jane Rochelson places the novel in proper context by providing a biographical, historical, and critical introduction; a bibliography of primary and secondary sources; and notes on the text, making this ground-breaking novel accessible to a new generation of readers, both Jewish and non-Jewish alike.
Assia Djebar portrays Algeria’s protracted anti-colonial struggle against France through the interlocking lives of men and women in an Algerian mountain town. Written in 1961, one year before Algerian independence, the novel depicts the ways the war transforms the women’s lives and draws them from the private world of the home into the public world of revolution, fighting for their community’s liberation. The book describes a determined Arab insurgency against foreign occupation from the inside out.