Outlaw or fool?

The Rogue Idea

Vol.54 Issue 02
Cover Artist: Alessandra Sanguinetti
Cover of TLR's "The Rogue Idea" issue

Minna Zallman Proctor

Selecting a theme for a given issue of TLR is both exhilarating and completely imprecise. From the outset, we wanted to broaden the definition of “theme” so that it was inclusive while remaining definitive- the idea being to suggest at least one context in which each individual contribution could be read and appreciated. As editors and readers, that has allowed us to open our minds to work we might have overlooked or simply understood differently, because we’re able to read through an interpretive filter that ampliefies rather than narrows. At the same time, contributors aren’t constrained to produce work engineered to adhere to strict guidelines- the guidelines are really rather a provocation. Which has been a good balance. But not, as I suggested from the outset, without its moments of head-scratching confusion, particularly when the theme, as in the case of this issue, is in itself a kind of fundamental abstraction. “The Rogue Idea” began as a discussion, over lunch, about the art of book reviewing and ended up here in these pages, on some idiomatic metaphysical spectrum, spanning practical jokes and fiction-writing workshops to police sketches and the geography of God.

What is a “rogue idea”? Do we recognize it as such (new, bizarre, innovative, dangerous) in the moment that it arrives, seemingly full formed, on our horizon? Do ideas that seem to diverge from conventional wisdom sometimes reveal themselves to be the essence of convention? Are other ideas, received at the time of their introduction as if covered in cobwebs, like Miss Havisham’s wedding cake, actually radical departures from the norm? Are those departures intrinsic, even essential to the norm? Is our cultural wholeness dependent on the anarchic twist? Or, tacking toward the lighter side, is an irregular, irreverent viewpoint precisely the gust of fresh air needed to blow away the cobwebs?

As a model modern neurotic with a predilection for obsessive (as in, inescapably circular) thinking, I idealize the rogue idea. It represents heroic clarity and unselfconcious aesthetic determination, a pure, organic phenomenon: Halley’s comet slicing in an instant through a muddy midwinter night sky.

Happy reading!


Table of Contents

Peter Shippy
The twins
The ennead
Our posthumous lives
The wreckage of the dark, a postscript

William Zander
Not My Own Man
Torn Apart

Caleb Curtiss
Swans as a Scourge
Peripeteia in Goltzius’s Icarus
Cancer Field

Krzysztof Jaworski
Benjamin Paloff, translator
Don Quixote Meets Mussolini and Explains How There Isn’t Much Point to Fixing the World
Letters to U.M.
Go Ask Your Eva Brauns How They Like Austria
That Troubling Look of Sadness in the Sunken Eyes of Our Hero

Michela Costello
How To Cook Curry
We Are Not Noise

Tedi López Mills
Translated by Wendy Burk

Geoffrey Nutter
Mister Greenglass
Shadow Government
The Quiet Parable

Steven Heighton
Thar He
A Monsoon Suicide

Michael Z Murphy
Why Did You Make That Left Turn?

Gary Fincke
Swarms; News
The Fear Warehouse

Daniel Wolff
Horned Grebe
Ice Is Water Under Another Name
Red-Tailed Hawk


Sean McConnell
The Evolution Rapist

Judith Hermann
Translated by Margot Bettauer Dembo

Yoram Kaniuk
Excerpt from Life on Sandpaper
Translated by Anthony Berris

John Kinsella
The Cartesian Diver

Joyce Hinnefeld
Benedicta, or A Guide to the Artist’s Résumé

Christopher Sorrentino
Unhappy Families

Jesse Goolsby
Resurrecting a Body Half


Michael Copperman


Alex Stein
Relation to the Absolute: A Conversation with H.L. Hix


Renée Ashley
A Rogue Idea

Mathias Énard
By Ruth Curry

The Shortlist

Elyse Fenton
By Paul-Victor Winters

Ruth Franklin
A Thousand Darknesses: Lies and Truths in Holocaust Fiction
By Anne Baney

Robert Steiner
Negative Space
By John King

Galsan Tschinag
The Gray Earth
By Anne McPeak

Christian Wiman
Every Riven Thing: Poems
By Ryan Romine

Valerie Trueblood
Marry or Burn
By Marion Wyce

Tina May Hall
The Physics of Imaginary Objects
By Cassie Hay

Juan José Saer
The Sixty-Five Years of Washington
By Suzanne Marie Hopcroft


Alessandra Sanguinetti
The Passage, 1999
From the series The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of their Dreams
Cibachrome Print

I’m a veteran of good ideas often gone terribly wrong. For example, at the imaginative and experimental age of eight or nine, I decided to hog-tie the family cat. (I believe I was working on some sort of compelling mental cowboy scenario.) The cat was profoundly not amused, as was my father, who had to cut the writhing ball of teeth and claws loose. Still, it did seem like a great idea at the time. That spirit of discovery, teetering on the precipice of disaster, is captured in this issue’s cover art, a photograph entitled “The Passage” by Alessandra Sanguinetti. A young, bare-legged girl in an impressively large hat, about to climb through a barbed wire fence . . . the idea, the imminent flaw in implementation and that glorious Seussian hat . . . a rogue idea indeed!

The photograph was recently featured in an ongoing series called The Adventures of Guille and Belinda and the Enigmatic Meaning of Their Dreams, at the Yossi Milo Gallery at 525 West 25th Street, New York, NY. The series depicts the lives of two young cousins growing up on their family’s farm outside Buenos Aires. The images are evocative, the girls’ faces often impassive, a mental counterpoint to the background of rural landscapes redolent with texture and rich, deep colors.

Sanguinetti is a native New Yorker and divides her time between New York City and Buenos Aires. She has exhibited widely abroad and her work is featured in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and the International Center of Photography, New York. She has received numerous awards and grants including the Rencontres d’Arles Discovery Award, the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, and the Hasselblad Foundation Grant. —Jody Handerson



Renée Ashley (“A Rogue Idea”) is a contributing editor to The Literary Review, and teaches poetry in the Creative Writing Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University

Anthony Berris (translator) was born in the United Kingdom and has lived in Israel for most of his life, working as a teacher and freelance translator.

Madeleine Beckman (books) is the author of Dead Boyfriends, a poetry collection; her work has appeared in Southern Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Confrontation, and elsewhere. She teaches at the City University of New York.

Wendy Burk (translator) is a poet and translator of Tedi López Mills’s While Light Is Built. She has recently completed a translation of López Mills’s selected poems.

Michael Copperman’s (“Want”) fiction and non-fiction have appeared in The Oxford American, Creative Nonfiction, GOOD, Brevity, Guernica, and Copper Nickel, among others, and is forthcoming in The Sun.

Michela Costello (poems) is a poet and English teacher at National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. Her recent writing is published in Tidal Basin Review, The Glasgow Review, and The Edinburgh Review.

Ruth Curry (books) is a student in the M.F.A. program at The New School. She lives in Brooklyn.

Caleb Curtiss (poems) teaches high school English in Champaign, IL.

Margot Bettauer Dembo (translator) was awarded the 1994 Goethe-Institut/Berlin Translator’s Prize and the 2003 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize. Other than three books by Judith Hermann, her translations include The Swimmer by Zsuzsa Bank and Hitler’s Bunker: The Final Days of the Third Reich by Joachim Fest.

Gary Fincke (poems). His latest collection is The Fire Landscape. His memoir, The Canals of Mars, was published this year. His story collection, Sorry I Worried You, won the Flannery O’Connor Prize.

Jesse Goolsby (“Resurrecting the Body Half”) is the recipient of the Richard Bausch Fiction Prize and the John Gardner Memorial Award in Fiction. His work has appeared widely, including publications in Epoch; Harper Palate; War, Literature & the Arts; Our Stories; and Vestal Review. He teaches at the United States Air Force Academy.

Cassie Hay (books) is an essayist and former editorial assistant for The Literary Review.

Steven Heighton (poems) is the author of the novel Afterlands, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. His stories and poems have appeared in London Review of Books, Poetry, Tin House, and Best English Stories.

Judith Hermann (“Misha”). Alice, which this story is taken from, is Hermann’s third book. Her first, Summerhouse, Later (Sommerhaus, später, 1998) received wide acclaim in Germany and internationally. Her second, Nothing But Ghosts (Nichts als Gespenster), was published in 2003. She lives in Berlin.

Joyce Hinnefeld (“Benedicta, or A Guide to the Artist’s Résumé”) is the author of two novels, Stranger Here Below and In Hovering Flight, and a collection of short stories, Tell Me Everything and Other Stories. She is Cohen Chair for English and Literature at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA.

Suzanne Marie Hopcroft (books) is a Ph.D. student in comparative literature at Yale University. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Gargoyle Magazine, LITnIMAGE, > kill author, elimae, and others.

Krzysztof Jaworski (poems) lives in Kielce, Poland. He is the author of nine collections of poems, most recently Irritating Pleasures: Collected Poems 1988–2008.

A novelist, painter, and journalist, Yoram Kaniuk (Life on Sandpaper) has published more than thirty books of fiction and cultural commentary, including the novel The Last Jew, which appeared in English translation in 2006. A feature film based on his novel Adam Resurrected came out in 2009 to great critical acclaim.

John King (books). His fiction has appeared in Turnrow, Gargoyle, Pearl, and Painted Bride Quarterly Annual. He teaches creative writing and composition at the University of Central Florida.

John Kinsella (“The Cartesian Diver”). His most recent volume of poetry is Divine Comedy: Journeys Through a Regional Geography. His critical book, Activist Poetics: Anarchy in the Avon Valley, just came out, and his next volume of poems, Jam Tree Gully/Walden, will appear next year. He is a Professional Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia.

Tedi López Mills (poems) has published eleven books of poetry and an essay collection in Mexico. Her most recent book of poetry, Muerte en la rúa Augusta, received the prestigious Premio Xavier Villaurrutia.

Sean McConnell (“The Evolution Rapist”). His fiction has previously appeared in Fence. He lives in Chicago with his partner, Maya Mackrandilal.

Anne McPeak (books) is the managing editor of A Public Space. She lives in Brooklyn.

Michael Z Murphy (poem). Union County College instructor of communication, dad, retired urban educator, certified massage therapist, life member International Listening Association, playwright, poet, tree hugger, Montclair State alumnus, no television 24 years.

Geoffrey Nutter (poems) has published three books, A Summer Evening, Water’s Leaves and Other Poems, and Christopher Sunset. He lives in New York City and teaches at NYU.

Benjamin Paloff (translator) is the author of The Politics and the translator, most recently, of Andrzej Sosnowski’s Lodgings: Selected Poems.

Drew Riley (books) reads and writes in Helena, MT while attending the M.F.A. program at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Ryan Romine (books) is assistant editor of The Literary Review. He has poems in the forthcoming issue of Commonweal. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife, Ann.

Peter Jay Shippy (poems). His most recent book is How To Build the Ghost in Your Attic. He teaches literature at Emerson College.

Christopher Sorrentino (“Unhappy Families”) is the author of four books, including, most recently, Death Wish, a critical monograph on the eponymous film. Recent work has appeared in BOMB, Bookforum, Granta, Open City, Playboy, and Tin House. He is a visiting writer at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

Alex Stein (interview) is the author of Made-Up Interviews with Imaginary Artists, a genre-bending collection of interviews, interview fictions, and short essays considering the art of the interview as an act of translation. He is at work on a second collection.

Daniel Wolff (poems) has published in The Paris Review and Partisan Review, among others. His latest nonfiction book is How Lincoln Learned To Read. The poems appearing here are from a collection in progress, The Names of Birds.

Marion Wyce (books) has received an AWP Intro Journals Award in Fiction and had her work performed in the Interact Theatre Company’s stage series Writing Aloud.

William Zander (poems) published poetry in many periodicals (including Yankee, New York Quarterly, and Poetry Northwest). His most recent collection is Gone Haywire and Other Old Sayings from Serving House Books.