Tag Archives: Fall 2017

Fall 2017


Discovery in Darkness: An Interview with Samanta Schweblin
Argentinian author Samanta Schweblin discusses her influences and her work, including her recently translated short novel, Fever Dream.
Interviewed by Allan Vorda and Liliana Avila

Created Identities: An Interview with Elvira Navarro
Spanish author and avant-gardist Navarro discussed her new novel, soon to be translated in English, La Trabajadora. Interviewed by Jorge Armenteros

The Holiness of the Alphabet: An Interview with Janet Hamill
The New Jersey surrealist, trance poet, and rock ’n’ roller Janet Hamill is a true American original, an amalgam of disparate parts. Interviewed by Bob Holman


Chinese Poetic Writing by Francois Cheng
A Little Primer of Tu Fu by David Hawkes

Two recent reissues celebrating classic Chinese poetry will ignite intense admiration and unlock a rich toolbox for any working poet. Reviewed by Patrick James Dunagan


Hectic Pigment
Jed Rasula
Rasula’s sharply sculpted volume of six poems shows the influence of the Dada and Surrealist precursors he’s written about so lucidly. Reviewed by James Cook


Mai Der Vang
Hmong-American poet Mai Der Vang explores the emotional turmoil of displacement, exile, and the difficulty of inventing a new home in the “afterland.” Reviewed by John Bradley

Historians of Redundant Moments
Nandini Dhar
Dhar’s novel-in-verse is a brilliant conglomeration of most of the things that make us human. Reviewed by D.M. Aderibigbe

Emilia Phillips
In her newest collection, Phillips addresses the wounds a body collects throughout a lifetime, along with themes of death and coming of age. Reviewed by Krystal Languell

Fast by Jorie Graham
Debths by Susan Howe

Both Fast and Debths come from an eerie and elemental no one’s land of late-stage collections—inciting a poetry that generates its own anxiety of influence, its own metaphysical stakes, its own mode of being-in-the-world. Reviewed by Kevin Carollo

Holy Ghost
David Brazil
Holy Ghost expresses the ideological cacophony of our times and juxtaposes it against the simplicity of human need. Reviewed by David Nilsen


Antígona González
Sara Uribe
At a time when the discourse of “bad hombres” and “building a wall” has poisoned U.S. society, Mexican writer Sara Uribe’s Antígona González emerges as an anti-toxin.
Reviewed by Gabrielle Civil

I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On
Khadijah Queen
Queen takes up themes of fashion, attraction, and self-actualization in her new collection of episodic lyric pieces. Reviewed by Jeremiah Moriarty


Ahmet Altan
The Turkish author's first novel available in English is a bold metaphysical thriller, critical not only of ruthless politicians, but also, arguably, of God himself. Reviewed by Garry Craig Powell

Since I Laid My Burden Down
Brontez Purnell
Purnell’s unconventional novel is ultimately concerned with how one’s masculinity is shaped by the presence and absence of other masculinities. Reviewed by Greg Baldino

The Consequences
Niña Weijers
Weijers’s ambitious debut novel explores everything from the role of art in documenting existence to predestination, the nature of freedom, and the Mayan view of Time. Reviewed by Garry Craig Powell

The Quality of Mercy
Katayoun Medhat
A police officer, an outsider to the Southwest, works to solve the murder of yet another young Navajo man as feelings of distrust mount among people who depend on each other. Reviewed by Jackie Trytten

Buckskin Cocaine
Erika T. Wurth
Wurth’s new collection of short stories depicts the Native film industry in the voices of different tribe members. Reviewed by Zack Kopp

The Twenty Days of Turin
Giorgio De Maria
In his expression of existential-social terror, De Maria joins writers such as Lovecraft and Poe in crafting a peculiarly literary kind of horror. Reviewed by Rick Henry


Eduardo Paolozzi
Edited by Daniel F. Herrmann
Since his death in 2005, Eduardo Paolozzi's reputation as one of postwar Britain's most versatile, productive, and celebrated visual artists has been enhanced by books such as this. Reviewed by M. Kasper


Tell Them I Said No
Martin Herbert
This slim but forthright volume of essays provides a welcome glimpse into the impulse to resist the neo-liberalization of art in the interest of maintaining human dignity. Reviewed by Michael Workman

Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta
Michael Copperman
This memoir on the difficulties and despair surrounding a young teacher’s attempt to enable positive change in a poor Mississipi school district is handled with deeply reflective and unflinching honesty. Reviewed by T. K. Dalton

Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast
Megan Marshall
Marshall’s research and smooth, concise storytelling make this book both an empathetic biography and an insightful analysis of an artist who sought “a way of thinking with one’s feelings.” Reviewed by Edward A. Dougherty

Loving Robert Lowell
Sandra Hochman
This flawed but heartfelt memoir details the brief relationship between Hochman and Lowell in the early 1960s. Reviewed by Brooke Horvath

The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids—and the Kids We Have
Bonnie Rochman
Rochman explores the advancements of genetic testing and our emotional responses to a plethora of information not only about our own genomes, but our children’s. Reviewed by Victoria Blanco

Kill All Normies: The Online Culture Wars from Tumblr and 4chan to the Alt-Right and Trump
Angela Nagle
Irish journalist Angela Nagle elucidates the circumstances that fomented the rise of the right-wing social media movement. Reviewed by Alex Kies


Behaving Madly: Zany, Loco, Cockeyed, Rip-Off Satire Magazines
Ger Apeldoorn & Craig Yoe
Illustrated by Jack Davis, Al Jaffee, & Jack Kirby
Opening this wonderfully odd volume, we find ourselves plunged into the vanished pulp world of the 1950s and the rise of wacky humor. Reviewed by Paul Buhle

Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

The Quality of Mercy

Katayoun Medhat
Leapfrog Press ($16)

by Jackie Trytten

Crimes, cops, and communities that don’t respect each other’s cultural differences—all sound current and familiar. In Katayoun Medhat’s debut novel, The Quality of Mercy, one police officer, an outsider to the Southwest, works to solve the murder of yet another young Navajo man as feelings of distrust mount among people who live together and need to depend on each other. In this fast-paced story, some people worry that nothing will change, and that one more person will get away with murder.

As he checks backgrounds of victims, family members, and acquaintances in the usual manner, Kafka—known simply as K, a “provincial cop” as he calls himself—sounds and acts differently from his co-workers. “K was of the opinion that the disrespect of any social group or member of society compromised society at large.” That opinion is not completely shared by some of his fellow police, who think they need only to put in their time, not actually solve crimes in the nearby Navajo Reservation.

Kafka also believes the effect of murder goes beyond the loss of a life and affects other family members across generations. “Because that was what unnatural and violent deaths did—they tore into the fabric of life, ripped it to shreds, created runs that could go on forever.” The young victim’s own father had been killed as a young man with no one held responsible, and his aunt told K, “What he always says is that what happened to his dad showed him that nobody cares about you when you are an Indian.” That thought continues to go through K’s head as he works; he doesn’t want to be the one to prove the dead man right.

For readers who don’t know much about the Navajo, Medhat provides insight into their culture, past and present, through passages in the narrator’s voice and in what characters say to each other. At times these passages seem more instructional than conversational and slow down the action of the story, but like the rearview mirror on the cover reflecting a dark horizon, Medhat offers readers a chance to reflect on actions, inactions, and the lack of understanding and trust between the smaller cultural groups and the majority population.

Though the story centers around K’s efforts to find the killer, we don’t know much about his past, what motivates him, and why he came to the Southwest. That may well be intentional, however—and more books featuring this winning character would be welcome.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

The Twenty Days of Turin

Giorgio De Maria
Translated by Ramon Glazov
Liveright ($24.95)

by Rick Henry

A good horror story requires monstrosity. Giorgio De Maria's The Twenty Days of Turin features the worst of the worst—the abyss, the unnamable, the unknowable, all of which is a monstrosity as malevolent as can be. In his expression of existential-social terror, De Maria joins writers such as Lovecraft and Poe in crafting a peculiarly literary kind of horror.

The place is Turin, Italy, where, in 1966, there was “a phenomenon of collective psychosis”: twenty days of mass insomnia, which had people wandering the city, zombie-like, at all hours. In the violence of that psychosis, a number of people died or were killed. Ten years later, the narrator of De Maria’s novel—a journalist—interviews one of the deceased's sister, a woman who “seemed to prefer one word above all the others: spirituality.” He meets with an “ear-witness” to the opening violence who heard several screams as the insomniacs traversed the city. He listens to recordings of creatures that has them evolving through several stages of sophistication with language. He discovers people who saw one of the “night-walkers” lurching along, “bit by bit, his movements seemed to get more agile.” That which is unknowable begins to take shape, as though the abyss is waging a war and needs to do so in terms that humans can understand.

As the journalist investigates, he has a number of direct engagements with the abyss, many of which are the standard business of horror stories: in a first contact, the phone rings, but no one responds to his “hello.” He notices a car following him. He receives a letter from a person he doesn't know and he enters into a strange correspondence. There are knockings on his door. A murder. A warning from a nun to stop looking into things he knows nothing about.

Against the abyss, De Maria offers spirituality, but not the spirituality of organized religion (indeed, the journalist is rebuffed by the Catholic church on several occasions). The journalist wanders the streets and encounters an oddly ritualized 'happening' complete with psychedelics, flowers, and chanting reminiscent of the 1960s. One of the participants is the deceased's sister. A young man hands the journalist a pamphlet that identifies sins—among them “an 'inattentiveness' toward 'that which seems invisible around us, but is no less worth of our concern.” The pamphlet continues:

Take heed! . . . Unless you repent, unless you pay attention not only to yourself but also to what you mightn't assume to be yourself, the wrath of God, which can express itself through all things, shall newly smite you down! The 'Twenty Days of Turin' were the final warning of the LORD!” (57-58)

The journalist does not take heed. He throws the pamphlet away and returns to his apartment and, perforce, his attention to art in its various manifestations. None of De Maria's examples, however, allow for an aesthetic steeped in unifying harmony, or intranscendence, either of which might suggest an escape, even as escape suggests a kind of inattention that would still be subject to the wrath of God. Instead, there is the possibility of achieving the spiritual through art, so long as the aesthetic delights in disharmony, in dischord. In short, an aesthetic that moves toward the abyss, toward the sublime.

Once in his apartment, the journalist comforts himself with Mozart's Flute Concerto No. 1 in G Major, a concerto rife with its own dissonances. He finds his lost copy of Robert Musil's Posthumous Papers of a Living Author and lands upon a passage that talks about that which is not noticed, a passage from a writer whose vision is, to put it mildly, expansive. The journalist encounters sculptures that offer their own disturbing violations of what it is to be a sculpture: they exchange positions in a public square and they fart. In what is the most important artistic encounter, the journalist discovers a strange library, a depository of people's personal writings, anxieties, desires, and outpourings that are manifestations of psychosis. Perhaps, if the journalist can engage the library as if it were part of himself rather than something to objectify, he might avoid the wrath of God?

In the end, De Maria’s novel is worth reading not only to discover the conclusion to the drama, but to revel in the artistic response to the social upheavals in Italy as outlined in an excellent introduction to the short novel by the translator. One has to hope that art is not merely a buffer or distraction, but the grand defense against the abyss.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

Buckskin Cocaine

Erika T. Wurth
Astrophil Press ($15.95)

by Zack Kopp

Erika T. Wurth’s new collection of short stories depicts the Native film industry in the voices of several participants. With nodes in Albuquerque, Denver, and elsewhere throughout the United States, that scene is fraught by all the same vanity games and decadence as its decrepit parent, Hollywood, and seems more prettily horrible by comparison for its smallness of scale. The stories in Buckskin Cocaine are narrated by members of different tribes, including Choctaw, Cree, and Navajo. They are connected but not contiguous, affording a panoramic view of the whole verdant snakepit of it.

In the opening story, “Barry Four Voices,” readers are introduced to the eponymous narrator via a litany of reasons for his being who and what he is, from “Because I’m famous because I’m rich because I grew up poor on a reservation and that’s what no one understands even though I have been telling the same story, over and over for years, to anyone who would listen,” to “Because I know how to fake it. Because there is a way I’m not faking it. Because I do love my life my wife my children and that’s what makes me a good person. I’m happy. Because I’m very happy.” The thing about Barry Four Voices is that his continued existence is an ongoing system of checks and balances enacted by tiny men, some with knives constantly held to his throat to prevent the unthinkable:

What the littlest man doesn’t seem to remember is that he was the one in control when I was a baby, doesn’t he remember how weak we were back then? . . . that’s when the men I was born with first came out, they taught me so much but I still wonder if the littlest man will get out because sometimes I can feel him staring at something I want to love through my eyes and I think God, no, I’m very happy.

The collection proceeds with the story of director George Bull’s attendance of a bustling party with sex and drugs and making new deals on his mind—“I could see Gary was fucked up already, hovering around the bar and babbling like a newborn . . . spilling bourbon all over the dingy, grey-carpeted floor, some big-eyed billyganna broad with ten pounds of shitty turquoise around her skinny neck nodding like mad”—and the story of Lucy Bigboca, a blabbery starlet or groupie who provides a clever juxtaposition to the impressionism of Barry Four Voices and George Bull’s resourceful crudity with open-hearted streams like the following:

I’m not the only one who got pregnant with him either. And I remember I didn’t even tell him, because I was scared it would push him away. So I you know like, took care of it? . . . I need to go out and MAKE IMPORTANT CONNECTIONS and that’s expensive. That’s not MY FAULT. . . . At least I didn’t get stuck with his baby, especially after I found out he was telling lots of girls he was their boyfriend.

Lucy must reconcile abortion with her repeatedly professed adherence to TRADITIONAL Navajo verities. But how all-caps traditional is she? Maybe really a “pretend-ian”? Perhaps an amalgam of both, so scrambled has social belonging become in this joint, where we have to learn to train our eyes to see correctly again. Another character named Robert Two Stories is from Oklahoma, and he says,

George and I just get crazy when we’re together, though the whole industry is crazy really. It’s not our faults. I mean, when you’re at a party and Tom Cruise shows up and like, everyone’s doing coke and you’re surrounded by all of these thin, hot white chicks drunk as shit, I mean . . . I always feel like my head is the camera, and we’ve, like, decided on a really shallow Depth of Field and everything around me is out of focus except for what’s right in front of me.

I’ll leave some of your questions unanswered, but Buckskin Cocaine closes, thoughtfully and precisely, with a beautifully crafted sectioned narration of the relationship between its titular namesake, Native ballerina Olivia James, and her man-piece, non-Native ballerino David. The story follows their adventures around the world and back until he drops her off in Denver, where Olivia must contend with the brashly seductive Tomẚs after meeting him at a high school reunion party. He breaks down the would-be impenetrable fortress Olivia’s built in her mind against teasing and telephonic pestering, with her father asleep on the couch in the next room with blankets around his neck, blissfully unaware of any fateful injustices to come. “I walked across the parking lot, holding my insides as tightly as I could. . . . I was walking towards the sun as it set, towards the west, and as I walked, I was bathed in the dying light, and it covered me like my daddy’s old Pendleton, and I didn’t look back, in fact I didn’t even think to.”

Due to consensus bias, minority authors are liable to develop a crab-eat-crab mentality, vying for the tiny bit of spotlight afforded them by the mainstream. In a recent interview in Word Literature Today, Sherman Alexie made statements about the dearth of Native writers, perhaps protecting his own reputation as top dog. “[Alexie] is a magical writer,” Wurth wrote in a piece for Roar magazine, “and . . . with all issues intact, is more than likely far more a force for good in the world than bad. But remember that the rest of us are here too, writing away, in our own ways.” With Buckskin Cocaine and her other works, Erika T. Wurth is actively un-tokenizing Native lit and reintegrating it with the established canon, opening lush, verdant worlds with her desert-hot words.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies Are Changing the Way We Have Kids—and the Kids We Have

Bonnie Rochman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux ($26)

by Victoria Blanco

Four years ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, my husband and I discussed the pros and cons of the routine genetic screening offered to us. We settled against the tests, but three years later, when my son was diagnosed with autism, I thought back and wondered if, one day, genetic screening could detect this condition the way it recognizes Down’s Syndrome or Trisomy 18. How would knowing about my son’s autism have affected me during pregnancy, I wondered?

Bonnie Rochman, a journalist who covered parenting and pediatrics for Time magazine, underwent a genetic screening dilemma during her third pregnancy, several years before she became aware of a study that gauged parents’ eagerness to map their children’s genomes, even when there was no worrisome family history. Rochman’s first book, The Gene Machine: How Genetic Technologies are Changing the Way We Have Kids—and the Kids We Have, explores the advancements of genetic testing and our emotional responses to a plethora of information not only about our own genomes, but our children’s.

Examining multiple angles of her central question—“is genetic knowledge empowering or fear-inducing, or both?”—is one of Rochman’s greatest strengths as a writer. In the first chapter, “How the Jews Beat Tay Sachs: Carrier Screening,” Rochman takes readers through the story of eliminating Tay Sachs disease through carrier screening of Jews with hereditary ties to Eastern Europe. She introduces the reader to universal pre-pregnancy carrier screening, a sequencing that can identify thousands of genetic mutations in a person’s genome. Companies are offering these screenings when the medical community advises against them, for fear that patients will make ill-informed choices. “DNA is not necessarily destiny,” Rochman articulates. But try telling this to a couple who has learned of dozens of genetic variants, all of which could lead to them, or their child, developing a disease.

In an insightful chapter titled “The Other Scarlet A: Abortion,” Rochman explores a complex aspect of advances in genetic testing and reproductive choice—what to do when you learn your baby has a fetal abnormality. “While there are women who’d never opt for an abortion,” she wrote, “it’s disingenuous to ignore the fact that terminating a pregnancy is one possible outcome of earlier, more sophisticated genetic tests. The issue of how people feel about disability and, in turn, how that impacts their decisions regarding abortion is an essential aspect of any discussion about advances in prenatal testing.” This chapter is remarkable for its balanced and nuanced approach to one of the most charged debates in our country. Rochman presents personal stories from women who have chosen to terminate pregnancies once they learned of a fetal abnormality. Then, she presents the views of disability rights advocates who argue that earlier and more detailed screening is a step backward in the fight to increase awareness and inclusivity for people with disabilities. She challenges the popular conception that prenatal information ensures a healthy baby; rather, she argues, prenatal testing is a means of asserting control over what kind of baby we have. “Perhaps we take refuge in circumlocution because it feels strange to acknowledge that prenatal testing allows us to play a role in deciding what sort of child we will have,” Rochman reflects.

The Gene Machine is a timely book for expectant parents as they navigate the new prenatal testing choices offered to them during pregnancy. Rochman covers fast-changing, emotionally charged territory with intelligence and compassion.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

Kill All Normies: The Online Culture Wars from Tumblr and 4chan to the Alt-Right and Trump

Angela Nagle
Zero Books ($16.95)

by Alex Kies

The rise of President Trump and right-wing populism worldwide was preceded and normalized by a far-right social media movement. Sites such as 4chan and reddit fostered online right-wing communities that spilled out into internet journalism, Facebook and Twitter, and ultimately the White House. In her book Kill All Normies, Irish journalist Angela Nagle elucidates the circumstances that fomented this ideology.

Nagle posits that the Obama presidency’s veneer of reasoned sincerity led to the disingenuous clicktivism of the KONY 2012 movement and the social media vilification of the Cincinnati Zoo in the wake of their euthanizing Harambe the gorilla. These trends’ self-importance and intolerance of dissent led to a good deal of disillusionment of youth on the left and the right. Gamer groups, various white nationalist and Christian conservative groups, and the remnants of the pick-up artist community congealed into a loosely affiliated, predominantly male movement referred to as the Alt-Right.

The Alt-Right is anti-authoritarian, decentralized, and often anonymous, although it has many (frequently at odds) figureheads. It follows, then, that contradictory ideologies co-exist beneath the same umbrella. Richard Spencer decries homosexuality and drug use as symptoms of Western decline, whereas both are celebrated by Milo Yiannopolis. Nagle posits that the greatest uniting force is “a bursting forth of anti-PC cultural politics through the culture wars of recent years.”

The mainstreaming of Black Lives Matter, safe spaces, transgender bathroom rights, etc. saw transgression becoming the project of retrograde racial and gender politics. Whereas once Prince’s lyrics and Dead Kennedys’ album art were the matter of Congressional inquiry, it is now edgier to release a female game designer’s home address or liken Leslie Jones to a gorilla. Indeed, Nagle argues that the Alt-Right has co-opted liberalism’s transgressive rhetoric and aesthetic. The difference is that the status quo now is more socially liberal than it was in the 1950s and ’60s. The core contradiction of Alt-Right ideology is that its strategies, because they are co-opted from and practiced in an environment of social liberalism, require liberalism to exist. As Nagle puts it, “Trump, rightist 4chan and the alt-right all represent a pretty dramatic departure from the kind of churchgoing, upstanding, button-down, family values conservativism that we usually associate with the term in Anglo-American public and political life.”

While she doesn’t quite make clear how the real-world consequences of this online discourse—especially the election of Donald Trump—were precipitated by the online hate-pit, Nagle’s analysis is trenchant and timely. What makes Kill All Normies such an insightful book is the author’s insistence on the culpability of the left in creating the vacuum in which the Alt-Right expanded. As liberal college campuses and private businesses instituted policies of gender-neutral bathrooms, safe spaces, and trigger warnings, they ironically made speech and thought less free through call-out culture. Nagle’s caution that the left’s stagnant ideas, pedantry, and infighting have made it the weaker party of the two should surely lead those who want change to reflect on their methods.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

Behaving Madly: Zany, Loco, Cockeyed, Rip-Off Satire Magazines

Ger Apeldoorn & Craig Yoe
Illustrated by Jack Davis, Al Jaffee, & Jack Kirby
IDW Publishing ($35)

by Paul Buhle

Opening this wonderfully odd volume, we find ourselves plunged into the vanished pulp world of the 1950s. As the era of the historic slick magazines like Colliers waned and the low-priced paperback trade multiplied many times over, comic books notoriously went into a crash mode. The Comics Code, threatening circulation-death of any that violated new sex-and-violence standards, had a lot to do with this crash. But so, of course, did TV, reaching from the coasts to the smallest flyover towns. For illustrators, comic book artists and others, it was a crisis, as it became for theatrical (animation) artists, and for analogous reasons: the grand movie studios no longer cranked out thousands of cartoons for audiences now sitting in front of televisions, buying ever fewer pulps of any kind.

For those sufficiently skilled and connected, there would always be consolations, including advertising studios and, for television, Hanna and Barbera (Huckleberry Hound, et.al.), not to mention paperback cover art and such. And there was one amazing print-media growth industry, mostly short-lived but seemingly enormous: wacky humor.

In major college towns, campus humor magazines had provided audiences with spicy cartoons and gags since at least the 1920s, succeeding higher quality, if less sexy, humor magazines like the pre-Henry Luce Life, among others. Mad Comics, launched in 1952 on the power of Harvey Kurtzman and his gang of artists, opened up a new era. Within a few years, as the story goes, parent EC comics faced a crisis of censorship. Kurtzman proposed to his boss, William Gaines, a slick version. Thus, Mad Magazine was born in 1955, and as a toned-down and younger-demographic version of Mad Comics, it caught the wave, its readership reaching millions within decades.

No wonder copycat magazines emerged overnight, like weeds on a summer lawn. Actually, a bedrock of the massively profitable 1940s comic book industry had been the “swipe,” both of artistic gestures and of genres. If one superhero appeared in seemingly silly outfits and with seemingly silly superpowers—to take the profit-leading example—there would soon be dozens, even hundreds, many of them in smaller companies likely to crash in the near future, like Superman with Kryptonite close at hand. Publishers with sudden success also often produced their own imitations, Mad begetting Panic, for example, with most of the same artists in the early 1950s. Paper was cheap in those days, with sales in newsstands and drug stores full of customers of all ages, all looking for something fresh and different. Behaving Madly celebrates the output of these magazines. In charge of the selection and annotation: Ger Appledorn (a Dutch television and comics writer who actually edited a short-lived version of Mad in the Netherlands) and Craig Yoe, born editors mad, so to speak, for identification and annotations even among the dreckiest of dreck. Thus the Introduction is something of a marvel (if not related to Captain Marvel). We find Snafu, Bunk!, Cockeyed, Lunatickle, Thimk, Who Goofed?, Frenzy, Shook Up, Loco, Nuts, Zany. and Frantic, not to mention the name-changing Crazy, retitled Crazy, Man, Crazy and again This Magazine is Crazy, among others! I admit to missing Sick! and Cracked, which both came later and are not excerpted here, or Kurtzman’s three post-Mad productions, Trump, Humbug, and Help!, reprinted or heavily anthologized elsewhere. Everything, each item in this curious saga, is carefully listed with years and leading artists, often enough experienced artists at their peak and not quite finding a place in the diminishing pulps. The lowest of the low, in the estimation of the high class magazine artists, get their due.

And so does the satire of modern life, in the Mad style, albeit knocked off: films, television, advertising, slick magazines, popular literary classics (think Frankenstein), popular science, even sports. Many are drawn by some of the greats, like Mad’s Jack Davis, obviously looking to pick up as many jobs as possible. Some stories are ripped off directly from Mad satires, making them effectively satires on satires. The amazing thing is that the near-anonymous along with the once-notable are so carefully credited here.

What makes these pieces notable as well as fun? Comics scholars without or without PhDs will, for instance, want to see what legendary Stan Lee was doing with Snafu (1955-56). They will find that he was pushing the envelope on sex—no surprise, given that the 1930s pioneer publishers of the comic book industry had been busted on a pornography rap only a few years earlier. The suggestive stuff here seems awfully tame. Captain Billy’s Whizbang and the current college mags—some of them banished by campus authorities—were certainly more suggestive. This luke-warm Hot Stuff was, after all, just one more pulp gambit. Readers will likewise want to glance at utterly tasteless satires, like one of “falsies” (a fooler: this is mostly about denture cream), and also at the rare appearance of Will Elder, Basil Wolverton, and other notables in these super-marginal venues. These are, or were, the pulps, after all, drugstore items bought and soon forgotten, a footnote to popular culture.

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Rain Taxi Online Edition Fall 2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

Volume 22, Number 3, Fall 2017 (#87)

To purchase issue #87 using Paypal, click here.


Tom Rademacher: Driving into the Fire | by Molly Sutton Kiefer
Gabrielle Bell: “I do try to give people souls” | by Kevin Huizenga


The New Life | a comic by Gary Sullivan
Ursule Molinaro: The Fallacy of Identity | by Ben Shields
Vivid Particularity: Four New Asemic Books | by Jeff Hanson
Works and Interviews | Michael Jacobson
Unknown Messages | Spencer Selby
zinc zanc zunc | Rosaire Appel
Codex Abyssus | Volodymyr Bilyk
Remembering Jack Collom (1931–2017) | by Elizabeth Robinson
Remembering Burton Watson (1925–2017) | by James P. Lenfestey



What is Poetry? (Just Kidding, I Know You Know): Interviews from the Poetry Project Newsletter (1983–2009) | Anselm Berrigan, ed. | by Patrick James Dunagan
Interweavings: Creative Nonfiction | Carol Smallwood | by Ronald Primeau
Little Magazine, World Form | Eric Bulson | by Matthew Cheney
Demand the Impossible! A Radical Manifesto | Bill Ayers | by Michael Workman
In Praise of Litigation | Alexandra Lahav | by Spencer Dew
Certain Relevant Passages | Joe Manning | by Micah Winters
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry | Neil deGrasse Tyson | by Ryder W. Miller
Sirens | Joshua Mohr | by Chad Parmenter
Quaestiones Perversas | Betriz E. Balanta & Mary Walling Blackburn | by Jeff Alford
Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law | James Q. Whitman | by Michael Workman


The Shape of Bones | Daniel Galera | by Chris Barsanti
The Teeth of the Comb | Osama Alomar | by John Bradley
Florence in Ecstasy | Jessie Chaffee | by Lizzie Klaesges
Fire. | Elizabeth Hand | by George Longenecker
Literally Show Me A Healthy Person | Darcie Wilder | Meghan Daly
We Could’ve Been Happy | Keith Lesmeister | by Bret Farley
Prosopopoeia | Farid Tali | by Abby Burns
The Drop Edge of Yonder | Rudolph Wurlitzer | by Garin Cycholl


Aloha/irish trees | Eileen Myles | by Semina Cooper
Conflation | Rae Armantrout | by Semina Cooper
The Conference of the Birds | Attar | by David Wiley
Surge | Opal C. McCarthy | by Heidi Czerwiec
Complete Poems of Richard Elman 1955–1997 | Richard Elman | by M. G. Stephens
Madwoman | Shara McCallum | by Jennifer van Alstyne
The Diary of Kaspar Hauser | Paolo Febbrato | by Robert Zaller
Cutting Room | Jessica de Koninck | by Sharon Tracey
Lowly | Alan Felsenthal | by Daniel Moysaenko
Bronzeville at Night: 1949 | Vida Cross | by Ian Bodkin
Power Ballads | Garrett Caples | by Chris Oakley
The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded | Molly McCully Brown | by John Bradley
Lion Brothers | Leona Sevick | by Ruth Chasek


You & a Bike & a Road | Eleanor Davis | by Steve Matuszak

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Rain Taxi Print Edition, Vol. 22 No. 3, Fall 2017 (#87) | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017