Like the real estate ad says, “You want what you want.” I wanted to dine at this mysterious restaurant, Alimentary on Canal, with its unnamed prices and its clientele sworn to secrecy. Their motto was, “We serve your dreams. Consume them with gusto.” I also wanted Tom Watson, our new political reporter. He didn’t want me, Allison Mintz – yet. But he would. I’d heard rumors about Alimentary – even if people wouldn’t talk openly, there were random postings on blogs, whispers at clubs. Word got out. You had to make a reservation giving them your credit data. They decided what you could afford. If they took your reservation, you also had to give them a hair sample. Dinner included a DNA test – they found out your ancestral signature.
Which animal’s bones did your sub-Saharan progenitors crack their molars on? What berries and nuts did they pluck from bushes in Eurasia? Did they steep their brain cells in honey wine, or stronger brews made from the roots of trees? Somehow, it all counted, though I couldn’t see how. I mean, I took a genetics course at Penn – whatever your ancestors ate couldn’t possibly be a heritable trait. Could it?
When you got there, I’d heard, someone tested your saliva for the hormones of the moment: How much cortisol? Estrogen? They registered your sodium levels, your blood sugar, checked your heart rate. Someone said they read your aura before they decided on your meal. Someone else said they’d only take people whose personal histories they could find out via the Internet. They really crafted it, this unique dining experience. That’s why it cost so much, whatever it did cost. “Don’t dine there frivolously,” someone had posted at Under the City’s Skin. “Remember what someone said about having your dreams come true? Be sure you can handle it, afterwards.” The poster called himself Owen Wister; he was untrackable or I’d have sent him an e-mail asking for more details.
If I’ve got a few love life problems – like being obsessed with Tom, whose radar I am clearly not on – at least I can pretty much get what I want when I want it when it comes to my career. So I asked Bryan, my boss at High End, if I could review Alimentary for the magazine. “What, you think I won the lottery?” he said. His blond hair flopped around his tiger-orange eyes. The custom contacts didn’t do him any favors. With his black t-shirt and jeans, he just looked like a skinny geek. But he was rich, and smart. I knew what his dream was.
“It would be a coup for us,” I said. “We’d be the first Philly magazine to actually review the place.”
“Except they don’t allow reviews. You’re not allowed to tell people about the meal, I heard. If they catch you, they punish you in some way. Financially, I think. You have to sign something. I do know someone, a friend of my dad’s, who went there….” His voice trailed off. He scratched the corn tassel on his chin and his probing fingers sent molecules of Versace cologne into the air. He was gazing off to one side, his habitual way of figuring something out. Bryan does have a nice nose – large, but very finely cut, aristocratic. Then he moved, shaking the peroxided quiff out of his face decisively, and the tiger eyes lasered me. “We haven’t done a review of Parc in awhile. Why don’t you go there? Hell, combine it with Vetri and Alma de Cuba. A triple play. And we’ll expense you, Allison. Hey, I’ll even go with you as a dinner companion.” He smiled, too hopefully.
I shook my head, crossed my arms. Studied the floor, so he could look at my cleavage without embarrassment. “Anyone can go to those restaurants,” I said. “Anyone can go to Rouge, Buddhakan, or the Continental. I want to go to the place that everyone knows about but no one can talk about. Remember Martin Luther King? Well, I’m like him. I have a dream.”
Bryan frowned, as I knew he would. He’d been the only white member of the Malcolm X Club at Haverford. “I find that rather offensive,” he said. “King dreamed of a better life for African Americans. You’re dreaming of a scoop for the magazine. Of a meal we can’t afford – because we don’t even know how much it will cost!”
Tom walked in, iPod wires hanging from his ears, a worn leather bag banging against his hip. Real musk poured off of him. My loins quivered beneath my tiny black skirt. Tom’s dark hair, slick against the sharp angles of his head. Cheekbones, temples, jaw. Hard lines and masculine stubble. Blue, blue, blue eyes.
“I hear all the city politicians go there,” I said. “They get their dreams catered. They say things they would never say in City Hall.”
Tom and Bryan were both staring at me. “Where?” Tom asked. “I want to go.”
Some rivalry between male dinosaurs stirred the air. “Alimentary, my dear Watson,” Bryan quipped in a British accent. Tom didn’t get it; score one for Bryan. He glanced at me to make sure I noticed Tom’s lack of literary knowledge about his own name. “If we go, I’m going too,” Bryan said. “A threesome at Alimentary will probably break the bank of Daddy,” he said. Then he stared very pointedly at me, “But you can’t say I’m not willing to risk my inheritance. And it better be for more than a mess of pottage.”
Tom had been working something out. “Do they give them sodium pentothal?” he asked.
“Who?” For once, Tom was really meeting my eyes. He looked interested.
“The politicians,” he said. “To make them talk.”
“They feed them full on dreams,” Bryan sighed.
Bryan was as good as his word: He put his nest egg on the line and got us the reservation. We mailed hair samples. Filled out questionnaires. A factotum at the restaurant e-mailed a time, and a place. We converged there, one evening in early fall, at 7 p.m.
Manayunk. It was an old loft in Manayunk – and on a canal, of course. I pulled out my digital recorder and whispered my first impressions into its metal ear: Pocked, world-weary bricks; the last light of day reflecting off the water; a very subtle, art-deco “A” made of twisted metal, painted red, hanging above the heavy double-doors. I gazed out over a dozen or so Beamers, Jags, Hummers, and Porsches angled into spaces on the cobblestoned street. A couple of stretch limos were crammed along the curb. Whatever guests were here for the evening must be already inside. Just as I was beginning to wonder if the guys had arrived ahead of me, Bryan’s old Honda pulled into the lot. His family is old money, which means low profile – no fancy cars, no conspicuous displays of wealth.
Bryan’s door and the passenger door creaked open at the same moment. Bryan’s chalk-striped, dark suit improved his appearance tremendously. He had a black shirt on beneath it and nice shoes. For once, he looked old enough to drink. Tom unfolded himself from the other side of the car. He had dressed more casually than he does at the office – expensive jeans riding low on his hips, a dark striped shirt with the cuffs unbuttoned, thick-soled Italian shoes. “Ready?” I asked, when they reached the base of the steps. I stood up on the porch, the door behind me. Bryan’s gaze traveled up my bare legs to my low-cut red dress. He licked his lips.
“Doesn’t look like a restaurant,” Tom said. “There’s no one here.”
Bryan took the steps, two at a time. “I feel like I’m in a Hawthorne novel,” he quipped, nodding at the red ‘A’ above the door.
Tom kept glancing around. “Where is everyone?” he asked.
Then the door opened and savory smells curled out of it. “Welcome,” said a silver-haired man in a black tuxedo, “to Alimentary on Canal.”
He ushered us down a hallway punctuated with doors. He selected a blue one, opened it and led us in. The room reminded me of a very expensive California spa I’d visited once with my mother. Comfortable Scandinavian furniture in leather and wood, low glass tables, exposed brick walls and maple-wood floors. Lavender and sage mixed with the smell of fresh-grilled meats, wine sauces, fruity chutneys. My mouth watered and neither I nor the guys could speak. Instead we stood gaping as lovely women in green silky outfits came through the door to take swabs of our cheek cells. They had us put our hands on electric sensors while a computer took pictures of our auras. Throughout all this, they brought us crystal flutes of champagne with a ruby-hued cordial swirling inside the golden bubbles.
A few sips of the champagne and my body relaxed.
“Delicious,” Bryan said, next to me. Someone had set a tray of canapés on the table in front of us.
“This mushroom thing is amazing,” Tom said.
I could see the black pupils crowded out the blue of his irises when he turned to me. “I feel great,” he said. “But where is everyone else? And this isn’t a dining room. I don’t think….”
Our host, the silver-haired man, returned. We heard murmuring beyond the door when he stepped in. Tom tilted his head to see who might be in the hall beyond, but the maitre d’ closed the door behind him. He smiled at us. “Happy?” he asked. We all nodded.
“Good, good.” He laced long, impossibly beautiful fingers before him. “We are preparing your menus specially,” he explained. “We do that for everyone, for each person has a different definition of the perfect meal. This takes a little while. Some ingredients are more difficult than others to find and prepare. But enjoy your cocktails. There will be more refreshments in the limo en route to the dining room.”
“This isn’t the restaurant?” I asked, a bit surprised.
He smiled. “It’s the first part of it,” he explained. “The cocktail lounge. The beginning of the journey. Where you’ll eat your meal – consume your dream – is a very special place. We’d prefer to keep that place a secret. Just as your dearest dreams are kept secret, known only to you.”
Bryan seemed to be blushing; he’d turned a bit away from me, but I could see the pinkness of his cheekbone. Tom, on the other hand, seemed almost angry. He stuffed a small sausage wrapped in biscuit into his open mouth, chewing so noisily I could see his tongue thrashing around.
Our ride in the limo was edifying: The windows were tinted dark and we couldn’t see out. Bryan sat beside me on the wide leather seat. His knee brushed my thigh and I moved my leg away.
Tom, across from us, had pulled a bottle of Dom Perignon out of an ice bucket. He held three crystal flutes in his long fingers. “Bubbly?” he asked me.
“Better slow down, big guy,” Bryan said. “You’re not going to make it to the main course at this rate.”
Tom grinned. “I used to outdrink every guy at the frat house, back in college. I don’t think a couple of bottles of French soda water is going to do me in.”
Bryan raised an eyebrow; I took a flute and let Tom pour. Nothing spilled. Through his jeans, I admired the musculature of his legs, widespread, on the seat across from me. Hot, hot, hottie.
We were led into some place that could have been an old mansion on the Delaware. Eighteenth-century furnishings. Candlelit. Lots of halls and rooms. Clumps of guests standing around them. Even in the dim light, I could see our city’s biggest celebrities – rap stars, movie directors, athletes, politicians. “This is unbelievable,” I whispered.
Tom had glimpsed one of our state senators – a very young, handsome one – chatting with a famous basketball star. As he stared, the politico turned and their eyes locked. One of the hostesses had given a sheet of paper to Bryan, which he was waving under Tom’s nose. “Hey,” he said. “Space shot. You have to sign this. And you, too, Allison.”
It was an agreement that we wouldn’t talk about our evening’s experiences.
“It doesn’t say we can’t write about it,” I whispered to Bryan.
“We’ll see how well that argument holds up next month,” he said. Poor Bryan. He was nervous, but willing. Braver than I thought. Tom was still enraptured with the senator and his basketball bud. You can dress a political reporter up, but you can’t take him out in public. Not to a place where his prey hangs out, anyway.
“You’re not allowed to talk to the other guests,” I told Tom, hoping he’d start paying attention to me.
By the time we were seated, in a small dining room with just one other table and a fire burning in a grate nearby, candles in sconces on the walls, I said what I figured we’d all been thinking: “We’re on drugs.”
“Speak for yourself,” Tom said. He seemed very annoyed, and more interested in the young pol and his tall dinner companion a Persian rug away from us.
“You can’t interview him tonight.” Bryan tapped his fingers lightly on the table’s edge until Tom looked at him. “And also I think Allison is right. There’s definitely something in that champagne. I feel…euphoric. Maybe it’s a set-up for the meal.”
“Yeah,” I said, glad to have Bryan second my opinion. “Even if they serve us dead fish, we’ll think it’s a dream come true.”
“If they serve us fish, I sure hope it’s dead,” Bryan said. “I’m not up for swallowing something alive.”
“See? I’m drunk. No more of their champagne.” I took the menu handed to me by a smartly dressed young man. He said my name as he gave it to me, or I imagined he did.
“Fizzy vampires,” Tom muttered.
“This is for you, Tom,” the waiter said, giving my muffin man a long, toothy grin as he handed him the menu. Tom barely noticed.
“What’s that, ‘fuzzy vampire’?” Bryan wanted to know.
“You don’t get out much, do you?” I found myself touching the back of Bryan’s absurdly pale hand, realizing that his white skin reinforced my words. The thought seemed very deep, for about a nanosecond. “I’ll take you to Swanky Bubbles sometime,” I told his gently waving corn tassel, the soft lips, his intelligent brown eyes, gazing steadily into mine. “You look so much better without the contacts,” I added.
“Champagne, chambord, and raspberry liqueur,” Tom explained; his head was bent over his menu.
“Blood. But fuzzy? I still don’t get it.”
I laughed. It was too much effort to correct him. Besides, I was distracted: Bryan had arched his fingers to cage my own.
He only let go when the waiter handed him his own menu. “Choose carefully, Bryan,” the man advised him.
At that point, I only hoped to stay awake enough to remember it all and, more importantly, get it into my digital recorder.
A young woman brought us bread; we each got our own basket, own butter. “Mm,” I gushed. “My butter has honey in it.”
Tom chewed with his mouth open, again. “Mine has big chunks of salt in it. But it’s good.”
“I’d rather not say,” Bryan said, as he munched a dark brown slice. It looked dense, unleavened. He kept his mouth closed, which I appreciated.
By this time, we’d all been given large goblets of wine – specially selected, apparently, based on our physical attributes. Mine darkened the goblet with a red so deep it was almost black; it tasted of berries and apple orchards. Bryan got a white wine, which he sniffed deeply before he sipped it. Tom’s wine was a rosé, which he held close to the candles on our table. “They gave me the cheap stuff,” he said. But he took a mouthful and smiled, his lips glistening in the flickering light.
When the waiter came to take our orders, it was clear we all had different menus. Tom ordered something that wasn’t even on mine: “Nero’s Balls.” The waiter recited a spiel about them: Ram’s testicles poached in white wine and shallots, then set ablaze at one’s table.
“What he’s having, obviously,” Bryan said, indicating the golden-haired senator across the room who had a flaming platter set before him.
“It’s a powerful choice,” the waiter acknowledged.
“And it’s not even on my menu,” Bryan complained.
“Or mine,” I said.
“Women rarely get that choice on their menus,” the waiter consoled me.
I was about to go all Ms. Magazine on him, but changed my mind. I ordered free ranging lovebirds in a nest of summer-harvest field greens. A wild-hare compote with Irish potatoes came as the side dish.
Bryan ordered gefilte fish stuffed with bitter herbs.
“Who are you, Super Jew?” I asked when I heard his order.
“Ah, you chose The Last Supper,” the waiter observed, gazing at Bryan with approval. “I wondered if that was what you’d pick, or the other choice.”
“What other choice?” I tried to wrest Bryan’s menu from his hand, but he wouldn’t give it up. “Tell me, Bryan Mossman, before I bite you in frustration.”
“Frizzy vampire,” Tom sneered at me. “Leave the man alone.”
The waiter plucked the menu from Bryan’s fingers. “Now, now,” he chided me. “Everyone’s meal is different and specific to them. You had your choices, too.”
“Did not,” I pouted. “I got love birds or Trieste eels. What kind of choice is that?”
Bryan said, “How weird. I just read a book about Sigmund Freud and do you know he spent a year in Trieste dissecting eels? He couldn’t find their sexual organs, no matter how hard he tried.”
“Really?” I tugged Bryan’s sleeve. “I told you, now you tell me. What was the other order? And why are you having Rosh Hashanah food? That was so last month.”
Bryan sipped his wine. “I can’t tell you, Allison. Guess I’m thinking about the review you’re planning to write. How I’m going to get crucified, and my dad, too. He’s underwriting all of this.”
“You worry too much about what your father thinks,” Tom burped. His balls were on the table now and the smoke rising off of them smelled like singed hair. “Don’t get mad,” he added, seeing Bryan’s frown. “I’m the same way. We fool ourselves that we don’t care what they think, but we do. We try to do what we think they want us to, even if it’s killing us.”
My birds came with the heads on. Their eyes had been removed, which gave me the creeps. Someone had put dressing on the greens and sculpted them into a nest. The birds were inside and, beneath them, three small onions lay like eggs.
“Love is blind,” Bryan said. He winced at the bitterness of the herbs.
I felt something slipping away from me. I was drunk enough now to speak my mind to Tom, though I knew it would be a mistake. He would never want to put little onions in my nest. To keep myself from blurting, I staggered up to find a bathroom instead.
“Looking for the Ladies’?” The host from Manayunk materialized beside me.
His long fingers cupped my elbow and guided me out of the dining room into a narrow hallway. “How did you get here?” I asked stupidly.
“I’m a guide,” he said. “You saw me at the portal, and now you need me to take you deeper.”
“Who are you, Virgil or something?” My stomach was cramping as he led me down some steps and the walls felt like they were closing in on us. A strong smell came up from the floor below; what I’d thought was dark-roast coffee was clearly a sewage problem.
“I think you need a plumber,” I said to my silver-haired companion. He just smiled.
“Have you ever wondered why we only celebrate one end of the alimentary canal?” He had stopped and I felt like I was in one of my bad dreams where I have to find a toilet but they’re all overflowing with shit, the floors covered, the walls spattered.
“The other end is just as important,” he said. “More so, really, but no one likes to talk about it or write about it. How many novels can you think of where a character takes a dump? David Mitchell is the only contemporary writer willing to describe the experience, yet all of us defecate. Daily.”
I clutched my abdomen. “In your gut you know I’m right,” he said. “You’ve always known.”
A door with both a male and a female symbol on it glimmered at the end of the hall. A unisex restroom – so be it. I left Virgil and sprinted to the end of the hall. Shoving it open, I nearly tripped over a man squatting on a toilet. “It feels so good to finally get rid of the shit that’s been holding me back,” he said to me. He groaned and I could hear the contents of his colon sluicing into the toilet.
Unlike the strange man, I could not release my bowels in public and I scanned the room for a more private toilet. A half dozen men and women, pants around their ankles or skirts bunched at their hips, were squatting on the public toilets. A few of them held cigarettes or wine glasses, sipping or puffing as they did their business. All wore expressions of intense concentration; all were bearing down with a vengeance.
In the middle of the room I recognized a former news anchor, a woman famous for outing her sexual liaison with a fellow newsman. It destroyed her career and the reporter to whom she broke the story asked why she’d bothered to come clean. “It was gnawing at me,” she’d said. “I felt poisoned by what I’d done and just needed to get it out of my system.”
At last I’d found an empty stall and hastened to get my own panties down. The cramps had reached a crescendo and when I could finally give in and release the pressure, I felt a surge of pure relief. The ache I’d been feeling for an hour – forever it seemed — left me. It was behind me and suddenly I knew everything would come out alright.
I washed my hands, eager to leave the furious stench in the depths of Alimentary on Canal. Virgil was waiting for me near the staircase and led me up.
“Feel better?” he asked.
“I do, but this is the weirdest dining experience I’ve ever had. I’d like to know how you’ve served me my dream. I think you just gave me a purgative.”
“Good word choice,” said Virgil. “Sometimes the worst thing that can happen to you is to have your dream come true. If you could know how the end of the day would turn out at the beginning, don’t you think you’d live it differently?”
He left me with a last dark smile at the door to the dining room. When I squinted to see our table, I realized the boys had been as busy as I had been. Somehow, the handsome senator had left his table for ours; he leaned over Tom, beaming and burbling.
“We ordered the same thing,” the senator was saying to Tom when I got within ear shot. Both had Nero’s Balls, a realization that seemed to seal their friendship. They clasped hands and Tom stood to gaze squarely into the face of our future governor. “You have no idea how much I admire you,” Tom told him.
“And I you,” the senator said. “I read your columns regularly.” He licked his lips as he spoke and I was astonished to observe, at my eye level, that both he and Tom were intensely sexually aroused; their trousers strained to hold in two mighty erections.
“Join us?” the slick young politico tugged at Tom’s sleeve. The point guard, back at their table, grinned at Tom, though he hardly looked thrilled at the new threesome. Still, he stood and politely pulled out a chair. What choice did he have? Tom left us, leaving only his musky aroma behind. He crossed the Persian gulf, its red and cream patterns swirling on my stinging retinas.
Bryan had stopped chewing. He sat perfectly still, watching my face. “If I could have given him to you, I would have,” he said. “It’s why I let him come tonight.”
I pushed the dead lovebird around on my plate with the tines of my long fork. “We’ve still got the scoop,” I said. “That’s something.”
Bryan’s expression was almost pitying. “Maybe,” he said. “I’m taking the risk that you’ll be able to write it up and ruin us. But I talked to my father’s friend, the one who came here the first year the place was open. He told me we won’t remember anything that happened after the place we had the appetizers in Manayunk. There’ll be a drug in something we’re eating, or drinking” — he held up his glass of wine, only a sip of which remained – “that will make us forget.”
“I won’t forget,” I vowed. I tried not to watch Tom Watson and the senator, their animated conversation. Tom’s fingers brushed the man’s wrist as they talked. The basketball player seemed to have lost a few inches of his height as he sat close-mouthed beside them. What was his dream?
“We all forget,” Bryan said. “And so we’re doomed to learn the same lessons over and over again.”
The waiter reappeared. “Don’t you like the birds?” he asked, an expression of concern suffusing his handsome face when he saw how little I’d eaten.
“I guess I’m not as hungry as I thought I was,” I murmured.
“And you, sir?” the waiter asked, turning to Bryan.
“The meal is fine,” he said. “Just what I was expecting.”
In 2006, Joy E. Stocke founded Wild River Review with Kimberly Nagy, an outgrowth of the literary magazine, The Bucks County Writer, of which Stocke was Editor in Chief. In 2009, as their editorial practice grew, Stocke and Nagy founded Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC.
With more than twenty-five years experience as a writer and journalist, Stocke works with many of the writers who appear in the pages of Wild River Review, as well as clients from around the world.
In addition, Stocke has shepherded numerous writers into print. She has interviewed Nobel Prize winners Orhan Pamuk and Muhammud Yunus, Pulitzer Prizewinner Paul Muldoon, Paul Holdengraber, host of LIVE from the NYPL; Roshi Joan Halifax, founder of Upaya Zen Center; anthropologist and expert on end of life care, Mary Catherine Bateson; Ivonne Baki, President of the Andean Parliament; and Templeton Prizewinner Freeman Dyson among others.
In 2006, along with Nagy, Stocke interviewed scientists and artists including former Princeton University President Shirley Tilghman and Dean of Faculty, David P. Dobkin for the documentary Quark Park, chronicling the creation of an award-winning park built on a vacant lot in the heart of Princeton, New Jersey; a park that united art, science and community.
She is president of the Board of Directors at the Cabo Pulmo Learning Center, Cabo Pulmo, Baja Sur, Mexico; and is a member of the Turkish Women’s International Network.
In addition, Stocke has written extensively about her travels in Greece and Turkey. Her memoir, Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses & Saints, based on more than ten years of travel through Turkey, co-written with Angie Brenner was published in March 2012. Her cookbook, Tree of Life: Turkish Home Cooking will be published in March, 2017 by Quarto Books under the Burgess Lea Press imprint . Stocke and Brenner are currently testing recipes for a companion book, which will feature Anatolian-inspired mezes from around the world.
Stocke’s essay “Turkish American Food” appears in the 2nd edition of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America (OUP, 2013). The volume won both International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) for Beverage/Reference/Technical category, 2014; and the Gourmand Award for the Best Food Book of the Year, 2014.
She is the author of a bi-lingual book of poems, Cave of the Bear, translated into Greek by Lili Bita based on her travels in Western Crete, and is currently researching a book about the only hard-finger coral reef in Mexico on the Baja Sur Peninsula. She has been writing about environmental issues there since 2011.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from the Agriculture Journalism School where she also received a minor of Food Science, she participated in the Lindisfarne Symposium on The Evolution of Consciousness with cultural philosopher, poet and historian, William Irwin Thompson. In 2009, she became a Lindisfarne Fellow.
Works by Joy E. Stocke in this Edition
AIRMAIL – LETTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
AIRMAIL – VOICE FROM SYRIA
ARTS – ART
COLUMNS – THE MYSTIC PEN
FOOD & DRINK – ANATOLIAN KITCHEN
FREYMAN & PETERSON- Your Life is a Book: How to Craft and Publish Your Memoir
LITERATURE – BOOK REVIEWS
LITERATURE – ESSAYS
LITERATURE – MEMOIR
LITERATURE – POETRY
LIVE FROM THE NYPL
The Euphoria of Ignorance: Being Jewish, Becoming Jewish, The Paradox of Being Carlo Ginzburg
Fountain of Curiosity: Paul Holdengraber on Attention, Tension and Stretching the Limits of Conversation at the New York Public Library
Paul Holdengraber – The Afterlife of Conversation
2013 – Three Questions: Festival Director Jakab Orsos talks about Art, Bravery, and Sonia Sotomayor
Critical Minds, Social Revolution: Egyptian Activist Nawal El Saadawi
INTERVIEW – Laszlo Jakab Orsos: Written on Water
Tonight We Rest Here: An Interview with Poet Saadi Youssef
Georgian Writer David Dephy’s Second Skin
On the High Line: Diamonds on the Soles of Our Shoes
Car Bombs on the West Side, Journalists Uptown
New York City – Parade of Illuminations: Behind the Scenes with Festival Director Jakab Orsos
The Pen Cabaret 2008: Bowery Ballroom — Featuring..
Anatolian Days and Nights: A Love Affair with Turkey, Land of Dervishes, Goddesses and Saints
Daring Collaborations: Rolex and LIVE from the NYPL at the New York Public Library Composing a Further Life: with Mary Catherine Bateson
WRR@LARGE: From the Editors – UP THE CREEK
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 1
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 2.5
Up the Creek: Volume 1, Number 3.3
Up the Creek: Number 4.4
Up the Creek: Beautiful Solutions
Up the Creek: Blind Faith, July 2009
Up the Creek: Create Dangerously
Up the Creek: What Price Choice?
Up the Creek: Before and After: September 11, 2001
Up the Creek: Candle in a Long Street
Up the Creek: Crossing Cultures: Transcending History
Up the Creek: Man in the Mirror; A Map of the World
Up the Creek: Stories and the Shape of Time
Up the Creek: The Divine Road To Istanbul
Up the Creek: What It Means to Yearn
WRR@LARGE – WILD COVERAGE
UNESCO World Heritage Site Under Threat of Mega-Devlopment Sparks International Protests
The Other Side Of Abu Ghraib — Part One: The Detainees’ Quest For Justice
The Other Side of Abu Ghraib – Part Two: The Yoga Teacher Goes to Istanbul
WRR@LARGE – WILD ENVIRONMENT
WRR@LARGE – WILD FINANCE
WRR@LARGE – SLOW WEB
WRR@LARGE – WRR BOOKS
In 2006, Kimberly Nagy founded Wild River Review with Joy E. Stocke; and in 2009, they founded Wild River Consulting & Publishing, LLC. With more than twenty years in the field of publishing, Nagy specializes in market outreach and digital media strategies as well as crafting timeless articles and interviews. She edits many of the writers who appear in the pages of Wild River Review, as well as clients from around the world.
Kimberly Nagy is a poet, professional writer, and dedicated reader who has interviewed a number of leading thinkers, including Academy-Award winning filmmaker, Pamela Tanner Boll, MacArthur Genius Award-winning Edwidge Danticat, historian James McPherson, playwright Emily Mann, biologist and novelist, Sunetra Gupta and philosopher Alain de Botton.
Nagy is an author, editor and professional storyteller. She received her BA in history at Rider University where she was influenced by professors who stressed works of literature alongside dates and historical facts–as well as the importance of including the perspectives of women and minorities in the historical record. During a period in which she fell in love with writing and research, Nagy wrote an award-winning paper about the suppression of free speech during World War I, and which featured early 20th century feminist and civil rights leader, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.
Nagy continued her graduate studies at University of Connecticut, Storrs, where she studied with Dr. Karen Kupperman, an expert in early contact between Native Americans and the first European settlers. Nagy wrote her Masters thesis, focusing on the work of the first woman to be accepted into the Connecticut Historical Society as well as literary descriptions of Native Americans in Connecticut during the 19th century. Nagy has extensive background and interest in anthropological, oral history and cultural research.
After graduate school, Nagy applied her academic expertise to a career in publishing, in which she worked for two of the world’s foremost publishers—Princeton University Press and W.W. Norton—as well as at Thomson, Institutional Investor Magazine, Routledge UK, and Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic.
Kimberly Nagy in this Edition
AIRMAIL – LETTERS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
AIRMAIL – VOICE FROM SYRIA
ARTS – ART
ARTS – FILM REVIEWS
ARTS – MUSIC
ARTS – PHOTOGRAPHY
The Triple Goddess Trials: Fire in the Head: Brigit’s Mysterious Spark
The Triple Goddess Trials: Introduction
The Triple Goddess Trials – Meeting Virginia Woolf at the Strand
The Triple Goddess Trials: Me and Medusa
The Triple Goddess Trials: Aphrodite and the Lightbulb Factory
The Triple Goddess Trials: Goddess of Milk and Honey
The Triple Goddess Trials: Kali’s Ancient Love Song
ASHLEY – Renee Ashley: A Voice Answering a Voice
BELLI – Giocanda Belli – The Page is My Home
BOLL – Pamela Tanner Boll: Dangerous Women: An Interview with Academy Award Winner Pamela Tanner Boll
DANTICAT – Create Dangerously- A Conversation with Edwidge Danticat
CHARBONNEAU – A Cruise Along the Inside Track: With Le Mobile’s Sound Recording Legend Guy Charbonneau
de BOTTON – The Art of Connection: A Conversation with Alain de Botton
GUPTA – Suneptra Gupta – The Elements of Style: The Novelist and Biologist Discusses Metaphor and Science
HANDAL – Nathalie Handal – Love and Strange Horses
KHWAJA – Waqas Khwaja: What a Difference a Word Makes
MAURO: New World Monkeys: An Interview with Nancy Mauro
MORGANSing, Live, & Love Like You Mean It: An Interview with Bertha Morgan
MOSS – Practical Mystic–Robert Moss: On Book Families, Jung and How Dreams Can Save Your Soul
OGLINE – BEN FRANKLIN.COM: Author & Illustrator Tim Ogline explains why Ben Franklin would be a technology evangelist today
OLSEN – Greg Olsen – Reaching for the Stars: Scientist, Entrepreneur and Space Traveler
PALYA – Beata Palya – The Secret World of Songs
SCHIMMEL – Moonlight Science: A Conversation with Molecular Biologist and Entrepreneur, Paul Schimmel
SHORS – Journey into the Male & Female Brain: An Interview with Tracey Shors
von MOLTKE and SIMMS – Dorothy von Moltke and Cliff Simms: Why Independent Bookstores Matter, Part I
WARD – On the Rocks: Global Warming and the Rock and Fossil Record – An Interview with Peter Ward, Part One, and
On the Rocks: Global Warming and the Rock and Fossil Record – An Interview with Peter Ward, Part Two
WILKES – Labor of Love: An Interview With Architect Kevin Wilkes
LITERATURE – MEMOIR
LITERATURE – POETRY
LIVE FROM THE NYPL
Fountain of Curiosity: Paul Holdengraber on Attention, Tension and Stretching the Limits of Conversation at the New York Public Library
The New York Public Library at 100: From the Stacks to the Streets
Paul Holdengraber: The Afterlife of Conversation
That Email Changed My Life: Rolex Arts Initiative. Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet Tracy K. Smith Celebrates Rolex Arts Initiative
First Editions / Second Thoughts — Defending Writers: PEN and Christie’s Raise One Million Dollars to Support Freedom of Expression
ON AFRICA: May 4 to May 10 — Behind the Scenes with Director Jakab Orsos: Co-curated by Award-Winning Author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Page is My Home: Giaconda Belli – Nicaraguan Poet, Writer and Public Intellectual
Georgian Writer David Dephy’s Second Skin
The Power of Conversation: David Grossman and Nadine Gordimer – The Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture
NEW FROM WILD RIVER BOOKS – Brief Eulogies at Roadside Shrines
Daring Collaborations: Rolex and LIVE from the NYPL at the New York Public Library
Wild River Books Announces the Stoutsburg Cemetery Project: The Untold Stories of an African American Burial Ground in New Jersey
Wild River Books: Surprise Encounters by Scott McVay
Wild River Review and Minerva’s Bed & Breakfast Presents – “BITTER” Writing in a Weekend: How to Write About the Things We Can’t Change
ALLEN – Quarks, Parks, and Science in Everyday Life: Filmmaker Chris Allen’s Documentary Where Art Meets Science in a Vacant Lot
HOLT – Rush Holt: An Interview with Rush Holt
MANN – Boundless Theater: An Interview with Emily Mann
Keeping Time: A Conversation with Historian James McPherson
VOICE FROM SYRIA
WRR at LARGE – WILD ENVIRONMENT
Cool Chick is an inspired force of literary nature — a lifelong writer who is dedicated to the wild river school of writing.
Educated at Wild River Community College, later attending Wild River University, Cool Chick is working on her PhD in changing the world – one story at a time.
Type designer, librarian, and systems engineer, Saad D. Abulhab, was born in 1958 in Sacramento, California, and grew up in Iraq. Residing in the US since 1979, he is currently Director of Technology of the Newman Library of Baruch College, the City University of New York. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Polytechnic University, and a Master of Science in Library and Information Sciences from Pratt Institute, both in Brooklyn. Involved since 1992 in the field of Arabetic computing and typography, he is most noted for his non-traditional type designs and the Mutamathil type style which was awarded a US Utility Patent in 2003. Designed more that 16 fonts families since 1998 and wrote several articles in the field of Arabetic typography and scripts.
ALL ARTICLES BY SAAD ABULHAB:
Opal Palmer Adisa, Ph. D, diverse and multi-genre, is an exceptional talent, nurtured on cane-sap and the oceanic breeze of the Caribbean. Writer of both poetry and prose, playwright/director, professor, educator and cultural activist, Adisa has lectured and read her work throughout the United States, South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, Germany, Spain, France, England and Prague, and has performed in Italy and Bosnia. An award-winning poet and prose writer, Adisa has sixteen titles to her credit, including the novel, It Begins With Tears (1997), that Rick Ayers proclaimed as one of the most motivational works for young adults.
She has been a resident artist in internationally acclaimed residencies such as Arte Studio Ginestrelle (Assis, Italy), El Gounda (Egypt), Sacatar Institute (Brazil) and McColl Center, (North Carolina) and Headlines Center for the Arts (California, USA). Opal Palmer Adisa’s work has been reviewed by Ishmael Reed, Al Young, and Alice Walker (Color Purple), who described her work as “solid, visceral, important stories written with integrity and love.”
Following in the tradition of the African “griot” Opal Palmer Adisa, an accomplished storyteller, commands the mastery and extraordinary talent of storytelling, exemplary of her predecessors. Through her imaginative characterizations of people, places and things, she is able to transport her listeners to the very wonderlands she creates.
A gifted diversity trainer, literary critic, and proud mother of three accomplished children, Opal is the former parenting editor and host of KPFA Radio Parenting show in Berkley, California. Columnist for The Graduate Parent for the “Healthy You,” website and wrote a bi-monthly poetry column for The Daily News, St. Thomas. Adisa has published hundreds of articles on different aspects of parenting, writing and poetry and is currently completing a book on effective parenting.
A Distinguished professor of creative writing and literature in the MFA program at California College of the Arts, where she teaches in the Fall. She has been a visiting professor at several universities including, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley and University of the Virgin Islands. Her poetry, stories, essays and articles on a wide range of subjects have been collected in over 400 journals, anthologies and other publications, including Essence Magazine. She has also conducted workshops in elementary through high school, museums, churches and community centers, as well as in prison and juvenile centers.
Opal Palmer Adisa is a vivacious, motivational speaker who will enthrall and mesmerize you with her words.
Phyllis Carol Agins’ fiction includes two novels: Suisan and Never the Same River Twice, as well as numerous short stories, published in Kalliope, Paragraph, and Lilith Magazine (Fall ‘06), among other journals. Her children’s book, Sophie’s Name, has been in print since 1990, and she also co-authored One God, Sixteen Houses, an architectural study. For many years, she served on the board of the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and taught writing at Penn State Abington. Lately, she divides her time between Fairmont Park and the Mediterranean coast. She has completed a comic novel about young widowhood and is polishing a literary mystery centering on the Shakespeare authorship question. Her next book will follow a Jewish family as they leave Algeria to make a new life in France and America.
Angela Ajayi spent over ten years in publishing, mainly as a book editor, until she became a freelance writer. She holds a BA from Calvin College and an MA from Columbia University. Her essays and author interviews have appeared in the Star Tribune and Afroeuropa: Journal of Afro-European Studies. She currently writes book reviews for The Common Online. Her first short story, “Galina,” will be published by Fifth Wednesday Journal this fall. She likes to think she defies easy categorization, identifying through birth and citizenship as a Nigerian-Ukrainian-American writer. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and daughter.
All Articles by Angela Ajayi
Drawing on the Universal in Africa (English Version): An Interview with Marguerite Abouet
Drawing on the Universal in Africa (French Version): An Interview with Marguerite Abouet
Kenya’s Unrest: An Interview with the Kenyan Poet Mukoma Wa Ngugi
PEN WORLD VOICES
Everything Is Complicated: An Interview With Nadia Kalman
On Reading and Writing in the Future and Now – Blogs, Twitter, and the Kindle
Literature, Life and Death: On the Arthur Miller Freedom to Write Lecture by Umberto Eco
In Spite of the Gun: Remembering Ken Saro-wiwa, Nigerian Writer and Activist
WRR@LARGE – WILD COVERAGE
Bill Alexander is a published fiction writer for Venture Magazine, Spectrum Magazine, and Drumbeat Magazine. As an intern for Wild River Review, he contributes to the column Wild Table, sharing his thoughts and insights on food and culture. Born and raised in New Jersey and a New Orleanian at heart, Bill is an avid storyteller and devoted writer who believes strongly in originality over faddism.
Works by Bill Alexander
Chris Allen became interested in filmmaking during High School, and has pursued it ever since. He studied Bhakti Yoga (which he still practices) in Chicago before receiving a degree in Film and Television from New York University. After raising three children and producing videos in corporate America, Allen started his own film company, Open Sky Cinema, writing and producing documentaries. They include “The Delaware and Raritan Canal,” “Lost Princeton,” “A Warm and Loving Look — The Poetry of Stephen Kalinich,” and “Open Sky.”
In his documentary, “Quark Park,” Allen filmed and interviewed dozens of scientists, artists, sculptors, landscape architects, and architects in collaboration with Quark Park’s creators Peter Soderman, Kevin Wilkes; and with the Wild River Review.
Works by Chris Allen
Renée Ashley is the author of five volumes of poetry: Because I Am the Shore I Want to Be the Sea (Subito Book Prize); Basic Heart (winner of the 2008 X.J.Kennedy Poetry Prize); The Revisionist’s Dream; The Various Reasons of Light; and Salt (Brittingham Prize in Poetry, University of Wisconsin Press), as well as a novel, Someplace Like This, and two chapbooks, The Museum of Lost Wings and The Verbs of Desiring. Ashley teaches poetry in the low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing and across the genres in the MA in Creative Writing and Literature for Educators. She has received fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts in both poetry and prose and a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A portion of her poem, “First Book of the Moon,” is included in a permanent installation in Penn Station, Manhattan, by the artist Larry Kirkland. She has served as Assistant Poetry Coordinator for the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and, for seven years, as Poetry Editor of The Literary Review. Her new collection, The View from the Body, was published by Black Lawrence Press in March 2016.