The International Literary Quarterly

February 2010


Rose Ausländer
Charles Bernstein
Amy Bloom
Jean Boase-Beier
Carmen Bugan
Moira Burgess
Larry Butler
James Byrne
Jim Carruth
Neil Charleton
Ronald Christ
A.C. Clarke
David Dawnay
Patricia Delmar
Des Dillon
Anne Donovan
Gerrie Fellows
Cheryl Follon
Ronald Frame
Hazel Frew
Rodge Glass
David Goldie
Jane Goldman
Martin Goodman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
Kusay Hussein
A.B. Jackson
Kapka Kassabova
Velimir Khlebnikov
David Kinloch
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Gerry Loose
James McGonigal
Gerry McGrath
Donal McLaughlin
Kate McLoughlin
Andrea McNicoll
Willy Maley
Peter Manson
Laura Marney
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Edwin Morgan
Ewan Morrison
Laura Muetzelfeldt
Hom Paribag
Mario Petrucci
Clare Pollard
Sheila Puri
Claire Quigley
Elizabeth Reeder
Alan Riach
Dilys Rose
Suhayl Saadi
Sue Reid Sexton
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Jim Stewart
Zoë Strachan
Chiew-Siah Tei
Valerie Thornton
Anthony Vivis
Marshall Walker
Zoë Wicomb
Xu Xi

40 Glasgow Voices

Volta: A Multilingual Anthology
(One poem: 82 languages)

Issue 10 Guest Artist:
John Hoyland RA

Founding Editor: Peter Robertson
Deputy Editor: Jill Dawson
Art Editor: Calum Colvin

Consulting Editors
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boulossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Beatriz Hausner
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Martha Nussbaum
Sari Nusseibeh
Tim Parks
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elena Poniatowska
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Associate Editor: Jeff Barry
Associate Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Two Stories by Rodge Glass  


Why Nothing Works

It doesn’t matter that my wife doesn’t listen to me. As I tell her some mornings when she’s rushing off to her two-days-a-week vanity job in town, trying to find her handbag or phone, checking the time all the time, packing toast into her mouth as she rushes to make that train, nobody tells me what to do. I tell her that as I’m sitting at our big new breakfast table, in our big new house, tucking into the mountain of hot scrambled eggs the housekeeper just made me. Even though she’s not listening I remind my wife that after a long hot shower I can read every article that interests me in that day’s newspaper, if I feel like it, before I leave the house. I can read the funnies, though they never make me laugh. I can read them at my leisure, coffee going cold in my palm, morning hard-on making a tent in my dressing gown, because I know that when I arrive at work, whatever time that is, the only words out of my 23-year-old secretary’s tight little mouth will be: Hello Charles. Usual tea and biscuit? And my reply will be: Damn right Cheryl. And fast. I want to see smoke coming off those high heels of yours. Then she’ll force herself to laugh, as she always does. Then I’ll walk in my office, shut that door, lay back in my leather chair, close my eyes, picture those high heels digging hard into my cheek, picture the foot the shoes are strapped tight to and the bare leg they lead to, and I’ll undo my belt, very slowly, letting my stomach spill out. I’ve earned it. I love my country. And you don’t get a country working – a big slow heaving colossus the size of a whole nation – by being polite to Cheryls. Most citizens of this not-so-great nation are stupid, and most really hate themselves for that. They want to be kicked around. They don’t know they want it, but they do.

As I drank the tea and crunched the biscuit Cheryl brought me I watched my workers through the slats in my office window, typing and talking to each other. What did they have to worry about? They didn’t know how it felt to sign a cheque knowing it was going to bounce, like I did in the early days here. Or what it was like to beg the bank manager for a bridging loan. To ask for just for one more month please. Just one tiny month. Most of the guys in this place don’t appreciate their freedom. They don’t even know they’re free. They just get up, come into work, leave, maybe have a couple of beers at the pub, roll home and, if they have the energy, try to get their husbands, wives, girlfriends or boyfriends to agree to one more sleepy fuck. The way most of the people here walk around all miserable on Friday afternoons, it’s like they don’t even want a weekend. As I said to Cheryl in the meeting: You love it here. You love me. Admit it!  She smiled. She had to. We both knew it. I could have thrown her on the conference table, pulled up her skirt and smacked her arse with a tablespoon and she still would have had to take it. This morning could have gone better though.

Not everyone is easy to deal with. It’s harder with the ones near the top, the ones that want your job. You’ve got to make them grateful, or at least resentful. So when they presented the new Winter Catalogue to me I said: I hate it. The faces around the boardroom table reddened. Then someone stood up and said: Charles, this is exactly what you asked for. And you’ve already changed your mind three times. That young man is tough, like I used to be. I felt like him promoting him on the spot. But instead I avoided looking at him, taking in all the young strong people around me – the sharper suits than mine, the more determined looks, the smaller bellies and broader shoulders. Then, without speaking, I left the meeting. As I stormed out of the room, down the corridor, out of the front door and over to my car, I wondered if I was finished. If I should sell up before I blew all my money. The thought passed as I put the car smoothly into gear. It was so beautiful, so comfortable and it still smelt brand new. As I told my wife when I got home, I’d worked hard to get it. She doesn’t listen to me, but it doesn’t matter.


Healthy Behaviour

If I was in charge then this heavy train home would ease off the tracks and get sucked into the sky. These thick clouds would be thin and wispy and they’d peel away to reveal a house next to the sun, the one we talked about building when we were young. As my empty carriage slowed to a stop I’d see two chairs on the porch and you sitting in one, waving, your face lit up by the orange glow around you, warm but not too hot on your skin. Finally, you’d say, standing up to greet me. Brother! You’re here! As I walked towards you I’d notice you’d become old, and how much that suited you. Sit, sit, you’d tell me, taking great pleasure in ordering me around, speaking in a language at once both yours and mine too. You’d say, It’s time for me to beat you, laying out the game pieces with care. And you would beat me. Easily.