Review: Rain of the Future by Valerie Mejer

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Rain of the Future by Valerie Mejer (Action Books, 2013) Trans. by Forrest Gander, C.D. Wright, and A.S. Zelman-Doring

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

In her book Rain of the Future, Valerie Mejer begins underwater. She writes:

 

“In the green water I saw your eye and in it I saw that Arabian palace

filled with birds and broken glass.

My sun-baked body at the edge,

wind in my lungs, its whistle,

my torn world, my grief,

my soggy passport, my shell with no pearl,

you lift them, delicate cloud, into a liquid world.” (15)

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SNOW: Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others and Me by Teffi

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Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others, and Me: The Best of Teffi (New York Review of Books Classics, 2016)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

I can thank Women in Translation Month for my introduction to Russian author Teffi, born Nadezhda Lokhvitskaya in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1872. Last year, the New York Review of Books published two translations of her work, Memories: From Moscow to the Black Sea, an account of her last few months living in the Russia and the Ukraine before she was forced into exile in Paris in the 1920s and 30s, and Tolstoy, Rasputin, Others and Me, a collection of autobiographical short stories that span everything from her flirtations with Rasputin to life as a writer in the months before the Russian Revolution. I chose the latter collection because I’m a sucker for Rasputin, but these stories delve so much deeper – into the difficulties of motherhood, finding a place for art in revolution, and discussions of power and powerlessness as a woman at the turn of the century – and they accomplish all that with a stunning balance of humor and poetic language. Suffice to say, I devoured these stories in a weekend, and I have plans to snag a copy of Memories at the next appropriate moment. Continue reading

SNOW: Hyperboreal by Joan Naviyuk Kane

41lqajq58il-_sy344_bo1204203200_Hyperboreal by Joan Naviyuk Kane (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2013 / Pitt Poetry Series)

Reviewed by Rebecca Valley

Joan Naviyuk Kane begins her collection Hyperboreal with a question: “June really isn’t June anymore, / Is it?” (3). It is a question that echoes, unanswered, as ice melts throughout Kane’s collection, creating a steady, solemn drip that reverberates until the very last poem. It is a collection of survival, of singing, and a collection dedicated to place — specifically, the ancestral land of the poet. Continue reading

Editor’s Note: Introducing SNOW

Special Feature 1: SNOW

Writing from the northernmost reaches of the globe

Though I live now in a place of mild, drizzly winters where the trees stay green and the sidewalks clear even in the middle of January, as a child I spent nearly six months of every year trapped inside, gazing out the window at a landscape of ice and snow. I was raised in northern Vermont, about an hour south of Montreal and a few hours north of anywhere notable, and I still remember vividly the slate grey winter sky, the long sheets of black ice over asphalt, the high, squeaking sound of boots against snow when the temperature dipped below zero and even the packed ice screamed from the cold. Continue reading

Recommended Reading: Women in Translation


by Rebecca Valley

#WITMonth snuck up on me. I was busy tying up all the loose ends from our August 1st launch, and when I finally resurfaced I discovered that my Twitter feed was inundated with a library’s worth of books by ladies from around the world. Among the stacks of recommendations were old favorites like Silvina Ocampo and Isabel Allende, and acquaintances like Han Kang, whose book The Vegetarian has been on my to-read list for months. What truly amazed me, though, was the sheer number of authors I’d never discovered — women whose names I had never heard, whose titles I had yet to uncover. Continue reading