Read Dangerously

Conjunctions 66: Affinity

The Friendship Issue

aa901eea-ed60-40f7-aa57-45907d262122[The] editor, Bradford Morrow, writes: “This issue is a gathering of writings that address some of the myriad ways in which we encounter one another as friends. The nimble dance between love and friendship is part of the dialogue. Staunch friendships and fraught ones. False friendships and fading ones. Friendships brought into being in the cauldron of illness, friendships that make us feel most alive.”

Affinity brings masters like Robert Coover, Rick Moody and Darcey Steinke, Joyce Carol Oates, and John Ashbery into conversation with the fearless new voices of Jedediah Berry and Emily Houk, Spencer Matheson, Matthew Cheney, Isabella Hammad, and many others. Those who renew can also look forward to a previously unpublished poem by Robert Duncan, in his own handwriting.

Typhoid Mary and Glenn Gould find friends in this issue. Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer rediscover each other, far from the Mississippi. Hansel and Gretel consider befriending some teenage wolves in the deep, dark forest of their adolescence.

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Babar and Celeste

images-1.jpgI have freely stolen from Wikipedia to introduce readers to Babar (my apologies to those readers who have small children and are well acquainted with Babar … and if not, why not?).

Babar the Elephant is a fictional character who first appeared in 1931 in the French children’s book Histoire de Babar by Jean de Brunhoff.

The book is based on a tale that Brunhoff’s wife, Cecile, had invented for their children. It tells of a young elephant Babar whose mother is killed by a hunter. Babar escapes, and in the process leaves the jungle, visits a big city, and returns to bring the benefits of civilization to his fellow elephants. Just as he returns to his community of elephants, their king dies from eating a bad mushroom. Because of his travels and civilization, Babar is appointed king of the elephant kingdom. He marries his cousin, and they subsequently have children and teach them valuable lessons.

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Summer Reading at the Tin House

Tin HouseI have been receiving two literary journals almost since day one: Conjunctions is published twice a year and I tend to forget about it with such a long wait between issues; however, Tin House is published quarterly and, interestingly, it seems to arrive in my mailbox with little delay (at least when compared to Conjunctions). Well, the Summer Reading issue of Tin House just came. I was truly surprised this time because just as I reached into the mailbox, the mother bird building her nest in my newspaper slot decided to fly out and cause my leaky heart to skip a beat or two.

It’s true that I seem to never finish reading any of my literary journals but I do keep them on shelves alongside my bed for some sleepy-time reading or for something stimulating while I lay in bed in the morning wishing I had purchased an espresso machine that not only made the coffee but also delivered it to my bedside.

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Morbid Stories Are Good For Children

OZWhen I was young I was often sick and spent many hours lying in bed either moaning in a darkened room with the measles (no vaccines then) or proped up on one elbow reading books and scratching my chicken pox. Sometimes I had books from the library and other times I had to rely on books that accumulated around the house. I got most of my books from Goodwill, used and often musty. Some of my books had evidently belonged to my parents, favorite stories from when they were young and impressed by Jack Hawkins, Bill Sikes,  or Dorothy Gale.

I still have vivid memories of avidly reading those over-the-rainbow books by the local San Diego author L. Frank Baum and unexpectedly flipping to a gnarly and often damned scary illustration that might interrupt my sleep for weeks. Or how about that wonderful illustration by the much revered illustrator N. C. Wyeth in the book Treasure Island that showed the gruesome skeleton of a pirate who had been marooned on the island long ago. In fact, just the concept of being marooned all alone on a desert island added a new level of fright and concern to both my waking and sleeping hours for years to come.

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