Michigan Quarterly Review

A literary magazine publishing essays, fiction, poetry, interviews, and book reviews.

Articles from Vol. 47, No. 1, Winter

A Night Scavenger
Tolstoy's notorious verdict was that happy families are all alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Every divorce is supposed to be unhappy and usually succeeds in this, despite the efforts of tender couples to make theirs one of the...
Cogito
The maple outside my windowshakes its big yellow fever at me,a spotlight in the wind. I'm in bedreading First Meditation, ConcerningThings that Can Be Doubted,from a textbook with a neon Used stickerglued to its spine. My throatis lemon-peel sore, but...
Ghost of a Chance
The way a man, bone-tired, enters a hot bath,Wynton Marsalis steps into the spotlight,center stage, and eases into Victor Young's"Ghost of a Chance." Heartbreak billowsfrom his horn as ectoplasmic mist, its ghostwindblowing listeners to the Land of Pauper-Loses-Princess-and-Can-Never-Love-Again,of...
In Praise of Saul Bellow
Looking for grace under pressure? Don't pick up Saul Bellow. You crack one of the novelist's fictions only to be accosted by a stranger in manic contemplation of experience. Modernism's stream of consciousness gives us preternatural hearing to capture...
Marilyn and the Literati
Talking about poetry readings, Robert Frost was fond of saying, "I only go if I'm the show." Unwilling to share the limelight with any other poet, Frost cultivated his own public image. Celebrities love to be seen with other celebrities-it generates...
No Sad Songs Sung Here*
It's true. I shop a lot. I like pretty things. Pretty things on me. They make me feel prettier, and being prettier is very important in our family. As in prettier than-than the daughters of my father's brothers. Prettier than their only surviving sister-which...
Planetfest Destiny
The universe may be expanding, but the solar system was shrinking. Without any warning millions of people all over the world listened to the news one day and discovered that the planet Pluto had disappeared. The public was puzzled and troubled that the...
Repeat
Pete and Repeat sat on a fence.Pete fell off and who was left?This was my first joke. I'd tell it to my little sisterwho didn't know at first what "repeat" meant.Pete fell off and who was left?I'd taunt her. Shut up! she'd scream, knowing what was next.She...
That Re- (What We Are)
Seventh grade, the boy is set to memorizing oneof Shakespeare's sonnets, and he reads it and rereads it-it becomes his cud-with slow deliberation. . . not unlike the way the planet itself millennially repeatsits several stories, the Flood (or the Fire);the...
The Complex World of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft
THE COMPLEX WORLD OF JANE JOHNSTON SCHOOLCRAFT The Sound the Stars Make Rushing through the Sky: The Writings of Jane Johnston Schoolcraft. Edited by Robert Dale Parker. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007. Pp. 292. $34.95."So pensively...
The Holographic Soul
We do the psychic trick for the new boys in the neighborhood in Louisa Phelps's backyard. It is the tipping point of June, the afternoon before the last day of school, and the heat has already settled in, bringing the bees, which buzz near our unshod...
Weaving Together Words: A New History of the English Language
WEAVING TOGETHER WORDS: A NEW HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language. By Seth Lerer. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007. Pp 305. $24.95.Be less like a bookmoth and more like a cow, Seth Lerer advises...
What Things Are Made Of
Thales thought water. Two thousand years later,Van Helmont agreed. Water is nice-much cleaner stuffthan alchemy's sulfur plus mercury; or sulfur,mercury, plus salt; or sulfur, mercury, and salt,plus earth and phlegm; though if nice makes right,Aristotle...
Whiplash: A Secret History of Women's Politics
In 1982, when I was fifteen, I wrote an opinion piece for the newspaper at my public, single-sex high school in Baltimore. It opposed "gag rule" restrictions on teenage girls' access to information about birth control and abortion, an early conflagration...
Whiz Kids at Eighty (I)*
WHIZ KIDS AT EIGHTY (I)*My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy. By Robert Bly. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. Pp. 97. $14.95.White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems 1946-2006. By Donald Hall. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006. Pp. 431. $30.We...