Fiction Non-Fiction Pictures Poetry

The Missouri Review, FALL 2013: ”Transcendence”

A Review of a Review

The Missouri Review’s Fall 2013 edition titled Transcendence contained only twelve writers that often had multiple submissions and the Christian religion seemed to be a major theme underlining many of the essays, short stories, and fiction. Two essays, however, by Kristine Somerville were of more notable topics: one concerning the photographic art of Manassé and the other, a review of four books, focused on the state of American higher education in recent years. There were only three poets published in the entire issue, one having won the Pulitzer some years ago. One might argue that a wider variety of writers, both experienced and emerging, might have been a better option than focusing on a handful of mostly mediocre writings that leaned more to rough musings than well-crafted art forms.

cg fewston

To begin, James Davis May had five poems published that were certainly not bred of the Romantic era. ”Portrait of the Self as Skunk Cabbage” was bent tightly around a pessimistic nature involving images like ”soil wet,” ”thawed out insects,” ”frost-crusted creek,” ”we hated because it was ugly,” that opened, as the issue’s theme would have it, into transcendence: ”the roots pull the stem / deeper into the soil, too deep, / a gardener told me, / to kill it even if you wanted to” (p 73-74). Another poem that was really enjoyable to read is called ”A Lasting Sickness” where May ends the poem with profound clarity and unease:

forgetting the cause, if it haunts you
like, say, unrepeatable pleasure
or a good dream you’ve never learned
to disbelieve, so that each sickness–
pneumonia at eighteen, shingles
at twenty-three–reminds you
of what others have done for you
and what others will do, their hands
working your clammy wrists and brow,
kneading the minty balm again and again
into your chest, if you began to believe,
as the boy did , that the world
not only acknowledges your suffering,
but turns to soothe it–what choice
would you have but to love that world
you so appallingly don’t understand? (p 71-72)

May is certainly not a T.S. Eliot or Dickinson but his poems do resonate within.

Claudia Emerson won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 2006 and her poem ”Infusion Suite” is about a woman struggling to live with cancer. In the section titled ”6” Emerson writes:

The trees redden beneath it, before loss,
becoming livid with this: rain, cold, windless–
shadowless the light, the sky a low

opalescence. This one a quieter day,
the room empties earlier. I eat
a bowl of soup from the table I make

of my lap. Later, I will win at Scrabble,
studying my sorry trough of letters–
cause double its worth, though, and I puzzle it

with Uz–as in Job, as in the land of–triple–
cheating, really, but we agree we will
let it go this time, all my words small

but costly, and my accounting of them perfect (p 113).

Emerson is able to take the ordinary, as in the game of Scrabble, and turn phrases like ”trough of letters” that dig deeply into the psyche of the narrator’s state of mind as she is coming to an understanding that each word, each action, each choice from now until her death will be judged and shifted through the Universal sieve of justice on the Day of Reckoning, if one is to believe in such things happening after death, hence ”the accounting of them” must be ”perfect.”

cg fewston

Kristine Somerville’s essay ”Darkroom Alchemy: The Photographic Art of Studio Manassé” reflects on the art of the Wlassics, the husband-wife team in Vienna, and the essay covers their life from the early twenties to their death several decades later. The Austrian pair basically made famous what is now known as the ”Art of Photo-shop.” Olga and Adorján’s photography involved nude females cut and pasted into much larger, every day objects. The photographs were often used for advertisements and referred to as ”joke photography.” But there was more to it than simply jokes and nudity.

cg fewston

”While the women of Olga’s nude portraits may appear on the surface as posed mannequins,” writes Somerville, ”they are not mere vehicles for passive fantasy and illusion. Olga imbued them with a brilliantly aloof while simultaneously sexual come-hither demeanor. Radiance and warmth tinged with inaccessibility are the qualities most evident in the facial expressions and poses: hooded lids, rouged, slightly parted lips; hands provocatively placed on the hips; tousled hair. Though nude, they wear the mask of fashion and film–twin obsessions of the newly modern woman. They are both consumers and products of the new culture” (p 122).

cg fewston

Studio Manassé never forgot what their photography was all about, and many might agree that this husband-wife team helped to shape modern photographs, especially in the field of advertising where Adorján would trim the fat off models with a fine razorblade to the film’s negative tape or touch up and remove blemishes with a fine brush.

cg fewston

Nevertheless, Somerville explains: ”Whether their work was used for press, publicity or advertising, they never forgot that the image must stand as an independent work of art. It must have aesthetic value beyond what it was selling or intended to promote. They understood very well the pleasure of the malleability of the photographic image and created artfully fabricated photographic illusions” (p 128). Below you may find some of these popular photographs from Vienna that helped to shape the field of photography.

cg fewston

More Images from Studio Manassé:

cg fewston

The most interesting piece, many would argue, is Somerville’s review of four books called ”Dissing Academia: From Casuistry to Common Sense.”

cg fewston

On the first book, Somerville writes: ”In In the Basement of the Ivory Tower: Confessions of an Accidental Academic, Professor X gives us a bleak view of the college classroom” (p 175) and goes on to explain ”how professors are forced to cope with the deficits in their students’ previous schooling by surreptitiously introducing basic skills” and that ”many students are being put in classes that they simply can’t pass, with or without remediation” while ”fifty percent of community college students drop out before their second year” (p 177). Professor X does not paint a pretty picture when it comes to the reality of American higher education, and others had some harsher criticisms.

cg fewston

The second book reviewed is The Education of Millionaires: Everything You Won’t Learn in College About How to Be Successful by Michael Ellsberg, a blogger. Somerville’s criticism of Ellsberg is rational and just as harsh as Ellsberg is on the education system that produces more swine than shepherds; Somerville writes: ”The Education of Millionaires oozes with unbridled anti-intellectualism. Ellsberg reduces a college education to self-exploration with expensive, fancy books or a long break before adulthood [not entirely wrong there]. Maybe that’s what he got at Brown in the ’90s, but times have changed [they certainly have]. College is no longer the pastime of eccentrics, as he seems to think [I hope not]. Ellsberg’s rant that universities are hopelessly sclerotic [there’s a word for you, having nothing to do with eroticism but rather meaning: one’s rigid inability to be adaptive] and removed from the ‘real world’ is ultimately tiresome, dull and self-serving” (p 179). Somerville pulled no punches there.

cg fewston

Jeffrey J. Selingo’s book College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What It Means to Students focuses on the more reasonable causes to an otherwise diseased state in American higher education. Somerville explains that ”Selingo [who is one editor at the Chronicle of Higher Education] makes quick work of the myriad of familiar problems facing higher education–flagging support, huge federal budget deficits and falling household incomes” (p. 180). Actually, ever since the Reagan administration, with Bush senior in the vice-presidency seat, the federal government has continually decreased funding to private and public institutions of higher education causing these colleges and universities to annually increase tuition. We, as in this generation, is now beginning to witness the direct effects of legislation instituted some twenty-five years ago. The catch is that the government keeps making the same redundant, half-brained policies of spending on military rather than education.

cg fewston

What is troubling is that the economy of employers is split and unable to make up their minds as to whether or not a university diploma is absolutely necessary. ”Selingo reveals that employers are split,” writes Somerville: ”’45 percent of hiring managers prefer students acquire an education that specifically prepares them for the workplace; 55 percent favor a broad-based education”’ (p 181). This is a corporate-centric view to take: what do the companies and employers want. Many will agree that higher education is more than just preparing for a job or career later on. And it sounds like companies want a greater number of under-educated employees in order to train them more adequately and then to establish a firm dependency between company and employee, who has no formal education, and would be inadequate in any other job with the skill set acquired at the former company. The losers, in the end, will be everyone.

Higher education, however, can be about other things than skills. ”According to the Pew Research Center,” Somerville writes, ”three-quarters of those who have attended college feel that it helped them to grow intellectually and mature as a person. [Selingo] also maintains that they live longer, happier lives with better, more satisfying working conditions, more civic involvement and engagement in the arts than those with a high school diploma” (p 181).

To finish, the last book is called College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be by Andrew Delbanco, a professor or American literature at Columbia University, who, as Somerville explains, ”offers an informed, often entertaining discussion of the history, current state and future of academia” (p 181).

If you are looking for quality fiction and poetry, this issue of Missouri Review is less than satisfying; if, on the other hand, you are seeking some incredible essays that will instruct and enlighten you, this issue is a must read. Also, regarding the review ”Dissing Academia” I would recommend reading In Defense of American Higher Education (2001), edited by Altbach, Gumport and Johnstone and the book called Declining by Degrees: Higher Education at Risk (2005), edited by Hersh and Merrow.

cg fewston
James Davis May, American Poet

James Davis May’s work appears frequently in literary journals: Five PointsNew England ReviewThe Missouri Review, and The New Republic. James Davis May is not to be confused with British television host James May, who also happens to write poetry. Website:

cg fewston
Claudia Emerson, American Poet

Claudia Emerson is an American poet. She won the Pulitzer Prize for her poetry collection Late Wife. Website:

cg fewston
Kristine Somerville

Kristine Somerville works at The Missouri Review as marketing coordinator and teaches at Stephens College and the University of Missouri—Columbia.

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cg fewston


cg fewston

The American novelist CG FEWSTON has been a Visiting Scholar at the American Academy in Rome (Italy), a Visiting Fellow at Hong Kong’s CityU, & he’s a been member of the Hemingway Society, Americans for the Arts, PEN America, Club Med, & the Royal Society of Literature. He’s also a been Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) based in London. He’s the author of several short stories and novels. His works include A Fathers Son (2005), The New America: A Collection (2007), The Mystics Smile ~ A Play in 3 Acts (2007), Vanity of Vanities (2011), A Time to Love in Tehran (2015), Little Hometown, America (2020); A Time to Forget in East Berlin (2022), and Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being (2023).

cg fewston

He has a B.A. in English, an M.Ed. in Higher Education Leadership (honors), an M.A. in Literature (honors), and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing & Fiction. He was born in Texas in 1979.

cg fewston
cg fewston

Conquergood & the Center of the Intelligible Mystery of Being is a captivating new dystopian science fiction novel by CG Fewston, an author already making a name for himself with his thought-provoking work. Set in the year 2183, Conquergood is set in a world where one company, Korporation, reigns supreme and has obtained world peace, through oppression... The world-building in the novel is remarkable. Fewston has created a believable and authentic post-apocalyptic society with technological wonders and thought-provoking societal issues. The relevance of the themes to the state of the world today adds an extra wrinkle and makes the story even more compelling.”

cg fewston
cg fewston

“A spellbinding tale of love and espionage set under the looming shadow of the Berlin Wall in 1975… A mesmerising read full of charged eroticism.”

Ian Skewis, Associate Editor for Bloodhound Books, & author of best-selling novel A Murder of Crows (2017)  

“An engrossing story of clandestine espionage… a testament to the lifestyle encountered in East Berlin at the height of the Cold War.”

“There is no better way for readers interested in Germany’s history and the dilemma and cultures of the two Berlins to absorb this information than in a novel such as this, which captures the microcosm of two individuals’ love, relationship, and options and expands them against the blossoming dilemmas of a nation divided.”

~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

A Time to Forget in East Berlin is a dream-like interlude of love and passion in the paranoid and violent life of a Cold War spy. The meticulous research is evident on every page, and Fewston’s elegant prose, reminiscent of novels from a bygone era, enhances the sensation that this is a book firmly rooted in another time.”

~ Matthew Harffy, prolific writer & best-selling historical fiction author of the “Bernicia Chronicles” series

“Vivid, nuanced, and poetic…” “Fewston avoids familiar plot elements of espionage fiction, and he is excellent when it comes to emotional precision and form while crafting his varied cast of characters.” “There’s a lot to absorb in this book of hefty psychological and philosophical observations and insights, but the reader who stays committed will be greatly rewarded.”

cg fewston

GOLD Winner in the 2020 Human Relations Indie Book Awards for Contemporary Realistic Fiction

FINALIST in the SOUTHWEST REGIONAL FICTION category of the 14th Annual National Indie Excellence 2020 Awards (NIEA)

“Readers of The Catcher in the Rye and similar stories will relish the astute, critical inspection of life that makes Little Hometown, America a compelling snapshot of contemporary American life and culture.”

“Fewston employs a literary device called a ‘frame narrative’ which may be less familiar to some, but allows for a picture-in-picture result (to use a photographic term). Snapshots of stories appear as parts of other stories, with the introductory story serving as a backdrop for a series of shorter stories that lead readers into each, dovetailing and connecting in intricate ways.”

~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review

“The American novelist CG FEWSTON tells a satisfying tale, bolstered by psychology and far-ranging philosophy, calling upon Joseph Campbell, J. D. Salinger, the King James Bible, and Othello.”

“In this way, the author lends intellectual heft to a family story, exploring the ‘purity’ of art, the ‘corrupting’ influences of publishing, the solitary artist, and the messy interconnectedness of human relationships.”

“Fewston’s lyrical, nostalgia-steeped story is told from the perspective of a 40-year-old man gazing back on events from his 1980s Texas childhood…. the narrator movingly conveys and interprets the greater meanings behind childhood memories.”

“The novel’s focus on formative childhood moments is familiar… the narrator’s lived experiences come across as wholly personal, deeply felt, and visceral.”

cg fewston
cg fewston

American Novelist CG FEWSTON


cg fewston

This is my good friend, Nicolasa (Nico) Murillo, CRC, who is a professional chef & a wellness mentor. I’ve known her since childhood & I’m honored to share her story with you. In life, we all have ups & downs, some far more extreme than others. Much like in Canada, in America, the legalization of marijuana has become a national movement, which includes safe & legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use & research for all.

“This is a wellness movement,” Nico explains. The wellness movement is focused on three specific areas: information, encouragement, & accountability.

In these stressful & unprecedented times, it makes good sense to promote & encourage the state or condition of being in good physical & mental health.

To learn more you can visit: Americans For Safe Access & Texans for Safe Access, ASA (if you are in Texas).

The mission of Americans for Safe Access (ASA) is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research.


TEXANS FOR SAFE ACCESS ~ share the mission of their national organization, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), which is to ensure safe and legal access to cannabis (marijuana) for therapeutic use and research, for all Texans.


Stay safe & stay happy. God bless.


Nico Murillo Bio ~ Americans & Texans for Safe Access ~ Medical Cannabis



cg fewston

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