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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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Archive for September, 2015

September 2015 in Black Lamb

Volume 13, Number 9 — September 2015

September 1st, 2015

The All-Drugs Issue

In September’s All-Drugs Issue, John M. Daniel examines a favorite weed in Marijuana mythtique. In My boozy blind dates, Elizabeth Fournier wonders why men think being shitfaced makes them attractive. Toby Tompkins doesn’t take illegal drugs anymore, but in Pharmacopoeia he lists his legal ones. In Escape from pain, Karla Powell names the reason for drug use but advocates stoicism instead. Greg Roberts takes the responsibility for the drug culture squarely on his shoulders in Blame us boomers. The Great Aphorist is M.A. Orthofer’s review of a fascinating book by Pierre Senges. Brad Bigelow reviews Peter Greave’s book about leprosy in Ugly disease, lovely writing; he also reviews a book about light verse by Helen Bevington. Terry Ross hails a marvelous first novel by a seventy-five-year-old author — Susan Altstatt’s Belshangles — in Super début.

We welcome William Carlos Williams and we grudgingly admit Ken Kesey into our gallery of Honorary Black Lambs. Bridge champ Trixie Barkis poses a couple of new card problems. Our recipe of the month is for Creamy Lamb Stew. Advice columnist Millicent Marshall talks about drugs. And Professor Avram Khan submits another tricky word puzzle.

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

Super début

September 1st, 2015

BT TERRY ROSS

Belshangles
by Susan Altstatt
Fithian Press, 2015

Fourteen-year-old Miranda “Andy” Falconer is a wonderful creation. Intellectual and intelligent, she’s also resourceful as hell and wise beyond her years. In serious teen-aged love with rock star Tommi Rhymer of the band Belshangles, she contrives, on the spur of the moment, to kidnap her beloved after a concert and keep him captive for two weeks in a remote mountain cabin so that he can break his heroine addiction.

Susan Altstatt’s book — it was a semi-finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards — is the story of this unlikely but crazily believable abduction. Along the way, poor Andy has to carry her hero, who has passed out, into the cabin, and then, when he wakes up, withstand his wrath and physical violence, outrun him when he tries to escape, see that he is fed and kept warm, and generally cope with his drug withdrawal, which takes more than a week.

This is Altstatt’s first novel, but you’d never suspect it from the writing, which is assured, almost cocky in its confidence. Both of the main characters are fully drawn and full of surprises. Rock star Tommi, although glamorous and scarcely educated, is intelligent, thoughtful, and articulate, and the ancillary dramatis personæ — Andy’s mother and father, her friend Skye, Tommi’s partner Harlan — make brief but vivid appearances. The plot unspools in conventional chronological order, and glimpses of the pasts of both characters are smoothly integrated. There’s not a bit of awkwardness in the showing or telling anywhere; this is an almost absurdly well-written first novel (or second or third, for that matter).

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

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