The Man on a Donkey

Christ Walking on the Waters by Sergius von Klever

Christ Walking on the Waters by Sergius von Klever

By H. F. M. Prescott (1952) David Foster Wallace started his speech “This is Water” with that old but salutary saw,“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, ‘Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’” In 16th century Britain and Europe, the Christian religion was like water to fish. To doubt the existence of God would be…

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Neil’s Story

May 4, 2017 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | Fiction, LIFE |
Prakash

Neil’s Story: A Regretful Refugee (ISIS Imprint) (2017) In this haunting, beautifully-written autobiography of one man’s encounter with a strange and hostile culture, the author shows how Australia’s lack of empathy drove him abroad to do good works in the Levant. It’s a unique clash-of-cultures tale, combining the innocence of Australian youth with the intricate and knowing wisdom of an ancient, sacred culture. Neil describes his formative years under the brutal Victorian regime, where he was forced into indentured servitude as an apprentice mechanic. Eventually he escaped this living hell for the promised lands of the Sunni-controlled part of Syria. Prakash was…

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Six Types of Ennui

April 12, 2017 | Posted by Guest Reviewer | Fiction, Ulalume |
"Moral Ambiguity" by Ian Sane

"Moral Ambiguity" by Ian Sane

“Dear The Varnished Culture, As requested, we enclose a transcript from our media monitoring service of the interview promoting Scumworld’s exciting new series. Invoice to follow. Thank you for your request. Yours sincerely, Ian Churl,  Vice President (Marketing) Scumworld Digital services” WEDNESDAY, 12 APRIL 2017 From ‘Marla Knob Today’ with host, Marla Knob MK: I’m talking to Toby Carving, start of the new television series debuting on Scumworld over this Easter weekend, Six Types of Ennui. Toby, welcome. TC: Thank you. MK: Congratulations on the series. TC: Thank you. MK: Tell me, how did the intriguing title come about? TC: I…

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Gwen by Goldie Goldbloom

Gwen by Gwen

Gwen by Gwen

(2017) It is difficult to see, from reproductions of Gwen John’s paintings, why her lumpy daubs are thought by many to be better than the skillful if dull portraits painted by her brother, Augustus John.  Goldbloom is at pains in Gwen, her novelised version of Gwen John’s life, to say that it was so, that even Augustus knew it.  Nor is it easy to understand, at this distance, just why women found those lumpy bawds Augustus and the sculptor Auguste Rodin to be utterly irresistible, but again, apparently they did – or at least the artistic ones like Gwen and Dorelia (the mistress…

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Lincoln in the Bardo

"Why, some asked, was a child riding a pony about in the pouring rain, without a coat?"

"Why, some asked, was a child riding a pony about in the pouring rain, without a coat?"

(by George Saunders). Saunders’ first novel, a heroic retelling of the death and laying to rest of Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie, chops and hops, like a play or the flea on a dead man’s nose, commented on by a Greek chorus of the dead and the living. Contrived though it is (the voices include the obligatory offended-against homosexual, mulatto slave and illiterate), Saunders gathers all together in a tender and mellifluous rotting pyre, at the centre of which Lincoln (handsome, homely, noble, ignoble, guilty, arrogant) burns, while others fly and roil like sparks around him. The enveloping Images of horror and grief are well-leavened by reflections on the beauty of the…

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