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Southwest Review - Spring 2004

Southwest Review is already one of the most established journals in the U.S., but this issue receives a commemorative boost with the recent passing of the great Arthur Miller: “The Turpentine Still,” one of his last works, is included here. Through the eyes of Levin, a 1950’s ex-radical, the novella ventures into the pine mountains of Haiti around one American’s quixotic dreams of industrializing the country. Thirty years later, in search of meaning and companionship, Levin returns to find out what became of the whole affair. Miller breaks no grounds here—indeed, he’s gotten extensive mileage out of socioeconomic themes in his career—but the polished story is a fitting farewell, a memento from the pen of an aged humanist who’s seen a promising but tumultuous century come and go. Elsewhere in SWR, expatriate Michael Blumenthal uncovers the unfriendly side of Europe, and Georgina Kleege reenacts the left and mind of Darwin as he devises a certain theory, both excellent essays. Limited poetry, but uniformly good: Jay Rogoff crafts a villanelle in “Midair” (“a dance that ends in midair doesn’t end / not even when the curtain must descend”) and Julianne Buchsbaum crafts barren images (“flies / from carnage in the tar-patched road”, “the river wrapped like a scarf / around the city’s neck”) into “Variations on a theme beginning with darkness.” In all, a strong selection at a good price. [] — Christopher Mote

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Review Posted on April 30, 2005

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