8824 NE Russell St.
Portland OR 97220

Black Lamb

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Black Lamb was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Published monthly. (more)

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This Week in Literary History

July 1st, 2015

English author (Brave New World, 1932) is born in 1894 in Godalming, Surrey.

Aldous Huxley, b. July 26, 1894, d. 1963

huxleyHuxley started as a novelist with intellectual relatives and ended as an apostle of hallucinogens and Eastern religions, to which he devoted the last twenty years of his writing life. His clear eye for hypocrisy and, above all, his prescience will ensure that at least his novels are read for a long time.

Suggested Reading Novels Crome Yellow, 1921. Antic Hay, 1923. Point Counter Point, 1928. Brave New World, 1932. Eyeless in Gaza, 1936. After Many a Summer, 1939. Ape and Essence, 1948. Essays Essays New and Old, 1926. Vulgarity in Literature, 1930. The Doors of Perception, 1954. Other Beyond the Mexique Bay: A Traveller’s Journey, 1934. The Devils of Loudon, 1953.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Uncategorized | Link to this Entry

This Month in Black Lamb

July 1st, 2015

The Black Lamb Review of Books XIII

In July’s special book issue, John M. Daniel revisits favorite books in Trilogies & quartets. In Revisiting Camus, M.A. Orthofer reviews Kamel Daoud’s reimagining of The Stranger. Toby Tompkins reviews a book about the causes of World War I in Paranoia. In Personal impressions, Brad Bigelow reviews one of the best books ever written about World War II. Lee Matalone reviews a fine collection of Italo Calvino’s stories in Significance galore. In His best novel, Walter Biggins reviews a collection of Jim Harrison’s Brown Dog novellas. Elizabeth Fournier takes a look back at Nancy Mitford in In the business. In Summer reading, Terry Ross reviews Susan Altstatt’s remarkable debut novel Belshangles and three other books. And Lane Browning reviews a book about a found photo in Mystery image.

We welcome literary critic Lionel Trilling and novelist Cormac McCarthy into our roster of Honorary Black Lambs. Bridge writer Trixie Barkis describes another tricky bit of cardplay. We offer our umpteenth delicious lamb recipe. Millicent Marshall again answers reader’s questions. And Professor Khan proffers another of his challenging word puzzles.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Black Lamb Review of Books, Month summaries | Link to this Entry

Trilogies & quartets

Short introductions to a few long works

July 1st, 2015

BY JOHN M. DANIEL

Many’s the time I’ve finished a novel and wished it could have gone on, that the story could continue, so I could spend more time with the characters and continue to enjoy the author’s brain and storytelling style. Of course I could reread the novel, and I often do, after a bit of time has elapsed. But what I really want is a continuation of the novel: an ongoing plot. I want to know what happens next.

This isn’t the case with all novels. Some wonderful stories are complete in one volume; and although I probably would enjoy reading more novels by the same good writer, I’m fully satisfied with where the one I have just finished, finished. But what a pleasure it has been when I knew I could go on to another step in the story’s journey. Or what a pleasant surprise to find out that a good story will live on in a sequel, for starters, and may turn into a trilogy or even a quartet of linked novels.

What follows is an annotated and opinionated list of sequential novels, books that belong to each other in threes and fours. In compiling the list I followed three self-imposed rules: (1) within each trilogy or quartet, each volume must be able to stand alone, but (2) together they form a narrative greater than the sum of its parts, and (3) I must have read the books, and I must have liked them enough to recommend them to others. I am presenting these in alphabetical order by authors’ last names, to overrule any tendency to rank the works.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Black Lamb Review of Books, Books and Authors, Daniel | Link to this Entry

Last Week in Literary History

July 1st, 2015

Irish novelist Iris Murdoch (A Severed Head, 1961) is born in 1919 in Dublin.

murdochyoungIris Murdoch, b. July 15, 1919 d. 1999

The much-honored Murdoch was a prolific novelist whose work ranged from sophisticated Gothic romance to much more complicated and densely emotional fiction, all of it informed by a lifelong commitment to serious philosophy.

Suggested Reading Novels Under the Net, 1954. A Severed Head, 1961. The Unicorn, 1963. The Time of the Angels, 1966. An Accidental Man, 1971. The Black Prince, 1973. The Sacred and Profane Love Machine, 1974. Henry and Cato, 1976. The Sea, the Sea (1978). Philosophy Sartre: Romantic Rationalist, 1953. The Sovereignty of Good, 1970. The Fire and the Sun, 1977.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: A Week in Literary History, Books and Authors | Link to this Entry

Last Month in Black Lamb

June 1st, 2015

In June’s issue, Terry Ross discusses libraries in Pantheon of books. In Loess is more, John M. Daniel salutes songwriter/lyricist Frank Loesser. Toby Tompkins confesses a need to make himself invisible in Hidey holes. In Scaredy-cat girl, Elizabeth Fournier recalls an unsettling road trip. Karla Kruggel Powell makes a plea for the wild wolf in Reintroducing ourselves. Lorentz Lossius offers a sixteenth installment of his Turkey diary. In Don’t cry for me, Nicaragua, Rene Mendieta tells the story of his coming to America. M.A.Orthofer reviews Kamel Daoud’s fictional revisit of Camus’s L’Étranger. In The examined life, Brad Bigelow examines the writing career of Alice Koller.

Renaissance dramatist Ben Jonson and contemporary short story writer Tobias Wolff are this month’s Honorary Black Lambs. Bridge writer Trixie Barkis sets us more problems to solve. A Lamb-Rice Casserole is June’s yummy lamb recipe. Millicent Marshall again answers reader’s questions, and Professor Khan tries to stump us (again) with one of his fiendish word puzzles.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Month summaries | Link to this Entry

Loess is more

In praise of Frank Loesser

June 1st, 2015

When asked who they thought were the most important writers of “The Great American Songbook,” most Americans today might say, “Never heard of that book. Is it available from Amazon?” If you tell them it’s a term for an important part of their cultural heritage, namely the popular standards, songs written for Tin Pan Alley, Broadway, and Hollywood from 1920 to 1950 or thereabouts, their eyes will glaze over. For them, what we call the standards are as dead as vaudeville or barbershop harmony.

loesserTry again. When asked who they thought were the most important writers of “The Great American Songbook,” most somewhat older Americans, for whom standards make up the soundtrack of their lives, are likely to answer, “Jerome Kern, Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart and/or Hammerstein…” To name a few. I agree with those candidates, but would like to induct another into the Hall of Fame: Frank Loesser.

Frank Loesser, like Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, and Johnny Mercer, wrote both music and lyrics to his songs, although, like Mercer, Loesser also wrote lyrics for melodies written by other composers. Loesser’s lyrics were as good as Mercer’s (that’s saying a lot), and his melodies were a lot better.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Daniel | Link to this Entry

Two months ago in Black Lamb

May 1st, 2015

The All-Sex Issue

In May’s All-Sex Issue (July will All-Drugs and September All-Rock ‘n’ Roll), Terry Ross examines society’s fixation on all things sexual in Obsession. In Selfish jerk, Elizabeth Fournier details her blind date with the mayor of a California city. John M. Daniel salutes Cole Porter in Clever, classy, & sassy. In Getting lucky, Toby Tompkins remembers an episode from when he was just seventeen. Lorentz Lossius gives us an atmospheric poem about cruising, In Central Park. In Choose your sex… if you can, we reveal a list of more than 50 “official” gender designations. In commemoration of Memorial Day, Vietnam vet Michael McCusker makes a plea for peace in Recruiting tomorrow’s dead. As usual, we offer a selection of insightful book reviews.

And, as always, our regular departments: our Honorary Black Lambs from the world of literature, our delicious lamb recipe, our incomparable bridge columnist Trixie Barkis, and our word puzzle master, Dr. Khan.•

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Sex Issue, Month summaries | Link to this Entry

April 2015 in Black Lamb

Volume 13, Number 4 — April 2015

April 1st, 2015

In April’s issue, Lane Browning profiles Laura Bridgman, a handicapped woman who preceded Helen Keller by fifty years but was even more exceptional. In Not the sharpest tool in the box, Elizabeth Fournier recalls one of her many horrible blind dates. Toby Tompkins documents his own contact with Scientology in Unclear. In Out of my mouth, Terry Ross laments the disappearance of genuinely shocking foul language. John M. Daniel reflects on role reversals in Are you comfortable? A selection of perceptive book reviews follows.

And, as always, our regular departments: our Honorary Black Lambs from the world of literature, our delicious lamb recipe, our incomparable bridge columnist Trixie Barkis, and our word puzzle master, Dr. Khan.

Posted by: The Editors
Category: Month summaries | Link to this Entry

Most exceptional of all

Laura Bridgman preceded Hellen Keller

April 1st, 2015

BY LANE BROWNING

Helen Keller came second.

For all her fame, achievements and iconic role modeling, the redoubtable Ms. Keller ascended on the very frail shoulders of her predecessor.

bridgmanYes, she did have a predecessor; in fact, Helen Keller was selected specifically as the “next” deaf/blind/mute poster child when the first one sidelined. Keller took up the mantle and carried it with spectacular virtuosity for eighty years. Yet even Keller and her gifted mentor Anne Sullivan suggested that the girl who “came before” was the truly exceptional one.

Most of us know that Miss Sullivan taught Helen to communicate, but who taught Anne? Laura Bridgman did. Laura Bridgman, who was the first deaf/blind/mute child in the U.S. to learn to communicate, both with finger signing and with writing (quite beautifully and very legibly). Laura Bridgman, who lost four of her senses when she was a toddler, yet went on to study philosophy, history, mathematics, geography, Latin, and religion.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Browning | Link to this Entry

Car Man is not pleased.

Not the sharpest tool in the box

April 1st, 2015

BY ELIZABETH FOURNIER

Rod the mechanic was late for our “let’s just kick down a beer and bullshit” date. Those were his exact words during our brief, introductory phone call.
However, I was still planning to move forward because I had heard from our mutual friend who’d given him my number that he was Erik Estrada cute and loved to talk cars.

womanwarrioronhorse*Our go-between was sort of correct, but Rod had a dirty appearance. He looked clean, but grungy. He’d most likely showered, but he was wearing men’s Red Kap indigo blue work jeans. Now, I know my blue-collar uniforms, and, in fact, I am a fan of coveralls and all things Carhartt. But something about wearing work pants to a first meeting in public looked like he either thought he should dress the part, or maybe he just lived in denim and cargo pants. Or maybe he was just clean, but grungy.

“Chicks just don’t know crap about cars,” he grunts about ten minutes into our fifteen-minute-late linkage, he being the late-comer. Whoa, a double red flag in one sentence! “Chicks” and he’s a potty mouth on the first date. Let’s make it a triple red flag for his blatantly sexist-generalized statement, too. Schmuck!

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: Fournier | Link to this Entry

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