Johannah Rodgers

  • A Monster’s Notes

    Poet Laurie Sheck’s new hybrid work, A Monster’s Notes, raises more questions than it answers about the life and times of Mary Shelley, the fate of Shelley’s famous monster, and the act of literary creation. Depending on the reader’s interest in such multilayered questioning and in the Shelley-Imlay-Woollstonecraft-Godwin clan, one will either be fascinated by the book’s tangled intertextuality or left wondering whether it might not be best to return to the original texts and embark on some independent research.

    Written in a range of genres—letters, interviews, Internet search results, and

  • Missy

    With its Wild West tale of prostitutes, Indians, wagon trains, guns, silver mines, opium, and suicide, Missy, the debut novel by Scottish playwright Chris Hannan, is alternately dazzling in its historical verisimilitude and linguistic playfulness and frustrating—is it intended to entertain or to enlighten? Wrestling with this conundrum may be unavoidable for authors of any work that attempts to consider—or reconsider—the American West for what it really was: a land of lawlessness and cruelty fueled by alcohol, testosterone, and greed. Moreover, what Missy shows (and Hollywood westerns rarely

  • Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England, 1600–1770

    As its subtitle indicates, Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England, 1600–1770 is about the dirtiness, clamor, and odor of seventeenth- and eighteenthcentury urban England. It is also about dentistry, furniture, food, hygiene, houses, sewage, and hair. Framed as an investigation of “how people were made to feel uncomfortable by other people” in London, Oxford, Bath, and Manchester, Emily Cockayne’s book succeeds in bringing the overlooked and sometimes downright disgusting details of the period to life without, unfortunately, ever revealing what the upshot of such discomfort might have been.