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Black Lamb


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.


Black Lamb welcomes submissions from new writers. Email us.


If you have questions or comments regarding Black Lamb, please email us.

Pagan primer

"In olden times...."

June 1st, 2016


Her hair needed pulling. She wore poor clothes that we could mock, and had “germs with no returns.” She sat silently while we stood and pledged our allegiance to the flag each morning: there was something about her religion, we were told. She never wore a Hallowe’en costume, was excused from carol practice, and never received a Valentine. She seemed to spend most of the year alone in the library, a fitting banishment from our revels, we thought. Books were boring and so was she.

d'aulaireUnfortunately, she rode my bus, and it often happened that the last available place was next to her. One morning, to the catcalls of classmates, I was forced to share her seat. She sat poring over a colorful book, and as she turned a page my attention was immediately drawn to an illustration. There was a great hole in the earth, and a dark man in a chariot pulled by four black horses was descending into the underworld. In one hand he held the reins to the steeds, while in the other he grasped, as captive, a frightened young woman. “Do you know about the Greek Gods?” I heard the voice next to me say. I looked up at her and admitted that I didn’t. “Here,” she said, handing me the book. “These are my favorite stories.”

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

Big Dave

Before Dylan, Dave Van Ronk was the bull goose

June 1st, 2016


The Mayor of MacDougal Street: A Memoir
by Dave Van Ronk, with Elijah Wald
Da Capo Press, 2005

One night on MacDougal Street, one of the major thoroughfares in Greenwich Village, I was listening to Dave Van Ronk at the Gaslight, a cellar folk club much mentioned in this book. It was, maybe, 1962. The cliche description of Van Ronk as a “bear of a man” was both easy and correct.

He was big, broad, bearded, and lank-haired; his head almost hit the top of the proscenium. Two drunk high school kids sat at one of the minuscule tables and kept up a loud conversation during Dave’s set. He warned them twice, but they resumed chattering before long. vanronkFinally, Dave set down his guitar, stepped off the stage and grabbed the bigger of the two by the collar. “I told you to shut up!” he growled, then cold-cocked the kid. His shocked buddy dragged him out of the club and up the stairs to the street, accompanied by the applause of the other patrons. Dave then resumed the stage and continued as if nothing had happened. There were giants in the earth in those days.

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

Raiders of the lost tombs

Archaeological adventure novels

June 1st, 2016


American Caliphate
by William Doonan
Oak Tree Press, 2012

Were’s a spellbinding archaeological novel about a “dig” (archaeologists prefer the term “excavation”) on the north coast of Peru, the ancient home of the Moche Indians, who built adobe pyramids. These pyramids, and one pyramid in particular, are of particular interest to a team of North American academic archaeologists, but in this high-stakes adventure novel there are other parties equally interested in what might be found inside a certain tomb. The CIA, for example. The Vatican. A strong-minded old Muslim woman in Lima. And whoever it was that shot and nearly killed Ben and Jila, a pair of romantically involved archaeologists, the last time they poked around the Santiago de Paz pyramids.

American Caliphate has a cast of intelligent, risk-taking characters driven by academic jealousy, political intrigue, religious rivalry, love and lust, outright greed, and insatiable nosiness about the ancient past. The plot is full of danger and discovery. And what these archaeologists discover may confirm rumors that Muslims fleeing the Inquisition in Spain and Portugal brought Islam to the New World.

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

Honorary Black Lambs

June 1st, 2016

June’s a jumble of juicy birthdays, but novelists are the overwhelming winners in the literary derby despite the appearance of one of the twentieth century’s greatest poets, William Butler Yeats on June 13, in 1865. Before he got old and yeatsphotoyoungCeltic mysticism got the best of him and his verse, Yeats wrote book after book of lyrical, transcendent poetry. The true goods.

Another poet, one of a different sort, adorns June, and that’s the late Allen Ginsberg, born on the 3rd in 1926. And a great master came on the scene, in Russia, on the 6th, in 1799, when Aleksandr Pushkin drooled his first. And although he’s better known for his grim novels, Thomas Hardy, born on the 2nd in 1840, was one of the great poets of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

There are also a few notable dramatists to mention. Pierre Corneille, writer of comedies and also El Cid, came into being on the 6th in 1606. Ben Jonson, author of Volpone, howled his first howl on June 11, 1572, and Luigi Pirandello began his search for an author on the 28th, in 1867. John Gay, creator of The Beggar’s Opera, was born in 1685. His tombstone reads “Life’s a jest/And all things show it./I thought so once,/But now I know it.”

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

Ask Millie

The top ten

June 1st, 2016


The life of an advice columnist living in Big Sky Country is both bracing and sad. Bracing because the big sky gets me thinking big and gives my advice a heft that I believe other advisors’ columns lack. millieSad, because most of my ranch animals and neighbors don’t think so big. When I hear from other large-minded, cultured souls, I can go about my ranching feeling a little less like Elijah in the desert and a little more like an ordinary advice columnist living in Montana. Sometimes, however, I realize that the angst I feel out here is not limited by geography.

For example, the other morning, after clearing the sagebrush and enjoying my mountain-goat yogurt smoothie, I lifted the lid off the Black Lamb crate of goodies that arrives every month. Usually the crate is filled with letters asking advice, but this month, being the month of the “All-Book Issue”, the cris de coeur were all from my Editor. And they all boiled down to one thing: why would anyone buy this book, rather than Black Lamb? For he had packed the crate with the books holding the top ten sales slots in the country. The scary part was that, clearly, he had read them all. They were flagged, highlighted, and underlined. And beneath the scribbles was the existential cry, “Why?”

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

Black Lamb Recipe

June 1st, 2016


To prepare Shashlyk (Georgian skewered lamb), a dish from the Caucasus, assemble the following ingredients:

1 large onion, peeled and finely grated
1 tblsp. strained fresh lemon juice
1 tblsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 lbs. boneless leg or shoulder of lamb, cut into 1- to 1½-inch cubes
2 medium onions, cut into ¼-inch-thick chunks
2 firm, ripe medium tomatoes, cut into eighths
10 scallions, trimmed
1 lemon, quartered

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the grated onion, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the meat the let it marinate for at least 3 hours at room temperature, tossing it in the marinade every hour or so to keep the pieces well moistened.

Prepare coals in a charcoal broiler or preheat your kitchen broiler to its highest point.

String the cubes of lamb tightly on 4 long skewers, alternating the lamb with the chunks of onion; press them firmly together. Broil 4 inches from the source of heat, turning the skewers occasionally, until the lamb is done to your taste and the onions are brown. Slide the lamb and onion off the skewers onto heated individual plates, and serve with the raw tomatoes and scallions.

Serves 4.

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

The All-Animal Issue

Volume 14, Number 2 — May 2016

May 1st, 2016

This May issue of Black Lamb, slightly delayed in settling into its nest online, is called The All-Animal Issue. So naturally it includes essays about dogs and cats, the most popular pet animals. But there’s also a horse, some budgies, and a few goats.

Following these are our pantheon of Honorary Black Lambs, our Black Lamb recipe, and Millicent Marshall’s invaluable advice column.

As always, we are confident that you will find stimulation and mental nourishment in these pages. •

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

I miss Jimmy

Animals can be as dear to us as humans — even more dear

May 1st, 2016


I miss Jimmy, who died in July 2013, more than I miss my deceased brother, more than I miss my dead mother and father.

jimmyI suppose this makes me some sort of monster.

When I knew that poor little Jimmy was dead, I wept, I lost sleep, I wandered around stunned. I did none of these when my brother Ken died of AIDS, when my mother expired after a long illness, or when my father breathed his last in a hospital bed at ninety-three. But I still find myself on the verge of tears when I think about Jimmy. My cat, Jimmy.
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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Animal Issue, Ross | Link to this Entry

Avian individuals

Crows make me smile

May 1st, 2016


It’s come to this. I bought mealworms.

No, not live ones — dried ones. I blame the store; had I not seen them on the shelf next to bird food I never would have thought of mealworms. What did I know from mealworms? Crispy brown slender parenthesis-shaped things that might as well be husks, though the bag promised protein and other nutrients. The text assured me that “unusual” birds would be drawn to my property. Right, not your garden variety sparrows, wrens, chickadees and jays, but exotic atypical birds. Really desirable birds.

crow*The bag didn’t mention crows. Birdseed bags never do (though I suspect ammo boxes do). No one wants to lure crows. During World War II they were labeled “black bandits” and citizens used any possible method — shooting, trapping, poisoning, dynamite, voodoo — to dispatch them. King Henry VIII declared them “despicable predators” and urged Brits to decrow (well, more accurately “derook”) the whole island. For centuries crows have been maligned. A sampling of their sobriquets: trash birds, menaces, scourges, nemeses, grim reapers, marauders, filthy scavengers, flying rodents, pseudobuzzards, and dirty #!&*#@! (I won’t get started on Jim Crow, crow’s feet, eating crow, and other pejoratives associated with these birds.) Crowbusters.com celebrates seasonal “shoots” and “mass kills.”

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Animal Issue, Browning | Link to this Entry

Ménage à trois

Life with Warren

May 1st, 2016


One morning about three years ago, Susan gave me a sad, sad look and said, “It appears we may have lost our best friend.”

“We’ve been through this before,” I reminded her.

“That was years ago,” she reminded me. “Before he’d really settled in.”
Susan was referring to Warren, the third member of our household, the one who holds down the papers on my desk and who sits beside me on the couch while I write; the one who keeps Susan company in the garden and who occupies her lap during cocktail hour; the one who joins us at dinnertime, especially if we’re having chicken or fish; and the one who shares our bed at night.

It may sound sentimental to call an animal companion our best friend, but Susan meant what she said, and I shared her sentiment. Friendship and love between members of different species is a real phenomenon, a generous blessing, a warm source of amusement and shared routines, and, at this moment three years ago, a cause for grief and near-panic.

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Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Animal Issue, Daniel | Link to this Entry

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