Mad Hatters' Review
Columns - Issue 3
Jabberwocky Webb Experimental Astrology
column - doric
column - ionic
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'Jabberwocky Webb' by C.B Smith
Jabberwocky Webb
 As book reviewer for Mad Hatters' Review, I search trade publications and Internet sources looking for the new and notable independent publishing houses, understanding from experience that the most fascinating, challenging, and distinctive voices emanate from these quarters. It is these voices we wish to assist in bringing to international attention in our own small way.
'Before Elvis There Was Nothing' by Laurie Foos
'The Singing Fish' by Peter Markus
click on cover to read review
Before Elvis There Was Nothing, by Laurie Foos
'Before Elvis There Was Nothing' by Laurie Foos

"One never knows," says Cass, not just once but numerous times throughout a rollicking journey that takes us to Elvis worship and back, via outlying states of fertile imagination, finally embracing territory explored in Eugene Ionesco's Rhinoceros. Cass, a hair replacement specialist (whose namesake Mama Cass choked to death on a ham sandwich), refuses all eating of ham as a talisman to ward off parallel fates. She contemplates a conversion to Judaism (no ham!) and deals with an agoraphobic sister, a perverted podiatrist, an enigma called "The King," and the sudden appearance of a horn in the middle of her forehead. Disarming and off-putting to some, to Cass and her younger sister Lena, all these events are unerringly to be expected; the sisters are defined by the abrupt disappearance of their parents, who abandoned them on the 10th anniversary of Elvis's death to seek the King.

In this wickedly hilarious novel, focused on obsessions, Laurie Foos uses her keen eye to appraise the question: has Elvis really left the building? A whirling high dive, a base jumping expedition, this wild ride is no simple hang-glide as the territories of phobia, parentage, obsession, spiritual serenity and the quest for perfection reel out and slap the reader face forward while the band from Memphis plays on. In summation, Laurie Foos's Before Elvis There Was Nothing explores the surreal crossroads where Elvis worship becomes a raison d'etre, and produces a fresh and stunningly ironic page-turning commentary on public image, glamour, and celebrity.


About the Author
Laurie Foos is the author of four previous novels: Ex Utero, Portrait of the Walrus by a Young Artist, Twinship, and Bingo Under The Crucifix. She teaches in the Low-Residency MFA Program at Lesley University in Cambridge and lives just outside of Boston. Visit her website at

The Singing Fish, by Peter Markus (read interview here)

'The Singing Fish' by Peter Markus

Fish and rivers and rivers and fish and water and things fluvial, aquatic, but not pelagic, revolving, aspiring, spinning, then topsy-turvy diving only resurfacing to ask the question: why? Why the focus the concern the obsession with fish and river and mud and brother and boy and girl? What's up with that? Everything and nothing simultaneously, a place where even the brave fear to tread. The narrator and his brother one would believe are cruel insensitive and strange characters who delight in the most trivial and brutal of acts. And once accepting this we find only the slightest bit of squeamishness when fish heads, one after another, are nailed to their preordained telephone pole as a ritual whose purpose we can only surmise. This the final resting place where perchance the magical power of all the fish is converged in combinatorial splendor creating the mystical place of repose, the winnowing brook away from the raging whitewater of the world; A place of peace. When we along the way make the acquaintance of Boy, "an only child with only a mother and a father and no brother to call his own," in whose company the brothers delight, we are horrified when they finally conclude, as if foregone, to cut off his head. Egad, we say, what manner of friendship is this? Perhaps if Brother hadn't intoned, "This boy here...He is a keeper," the putative death knell, the decapitation wouldn't have occurred. Digging deeply into the stories contained in this book, we find that the cutting off of heads is an emblem and symbol of magical unity. Taken literally, The Singing Fish could be labeled one of the most dangerous books of the early 21st century.

The collection of tales in The Singing Fish is well suited thematically to be much more than a mere anthology and more fittingly that of a small novella, a small novella whose language and obsessions sing and cant and rock and sway, taking the reader along on a dream that continues page after page. The pages demand to be turned. No amount of dissection or description could speak as adequately as the work itself. Order your copy today and join the dream.


About the Author
Peter Markus is the author of Still Lives with Whisky Bottle, Good, Brother, and The Moon is a Lighthouse.

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'Experimental Astrology' by Saturnika
Experimental Astrology


Fall/Spring Forecast (Fall for Up; Spring for Down, from a global perspective, of course)

Dear Fall/Spring sun signs and curious others with Ascendants or Moons in Virgo, Libra, or Scorpio, and of course all sorts of others without any planets anywhere:

Expect to experience recurrent fits of overwhelming nostalgia and existential angst as both Fall and Spring tend to remind us of the unavoidable passage of time, imminence of Death and all that. You will be tempted to dwell in the Past, focusing on your tender Youth, which you'll romanticize to the point of boring poor sots within hearing distance of your mawkish monologues. Those of you who experienced horrendous childhoods will feel understandably sorry for yourselves; expect to cry a lot and depress your friends and loved ones.

'tis a season to avoid discussions about Thanatos, as you're already metaphysically so to speak dead, particularly you Scorpions. Most of you Librans are too unconsciously unbalanced to realize you're dead. You Virgins are almost always in the Perpetual House of Denial. In any event, you should all do your best to postpone your demise into Not-Darkness Not-Light till the days grow long in your tooth. This is an inopportune time to expire, as gregarious Jupiter will be sleeping with Venus in his bunker (the old goddess really does get around!) in the Fourth House and the season will be lonely, despite the proliferance of nuclear apple picking excursions and riotous Halloween parties to which you haven't been invited. So if you die this season, nobody's going to take any notice. A pity.

To be perfectly honest, as is Saturnika's wont, this is not a terrific time to cultivate new friends or lovers, unless you're extremely perceptive about human nature. Common fools, obnoxiously mad persons, psychotic religious fanatics, new age guru and witch wannabes, tsunamis and neo-con artists abound with ferocity as explosive Uranus sits indolently without grace on Moon's delicate face while Mars occupies himself with impotent anti-war protests. This is the Age of Dementia, Aquarius standing with difficulty on her head, compelled to survive on a diet of acid rain, Wendy burgers, and mercury, and don't forget it. If you think things will get better, that this is all a mere Hegelian cycle thingo whatever, it's time to re-read Sartre, Camus, Kafka, and Gibbons's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. And let's not forget Dorothy Parker and Buffy Saint-Marie.

On the bright side, a new, habitable planet will be discovered early next year and various and sundry imperialistic invasions will ameliorate the world population, along with epileptic fits of Mother Nature. In regard to the discovery of the new planet, Caveat Emptor, immigration policies will be liberal only to homo saps who provide convincing evidence of their care and love for this planet. And the solar airfare will be affordable.

Now to get to the specifics, because you're all interested in wonderful, glorious, demented YOU:

VIRGOS: You dear petty insufficiently appreciated seemingly selfless servers of the populace will alarm your colleagues by bursting into tears at 4 pm each workday. You will tell them someone close to you has just died because you're too embarrassed to own the fact that your tedious job is boring you silly and you've suddenly lost the meaning of your life, whatever that was. You will also shock everyone by swearing when your boss gives you something idiotic to do, which is all the time, and you will feel that you may not be capable of taking it anymore. You will have incontrollable impulses (hitherto unknown to you on a conscious level) to shoot everyone in your government agency for perpetuating sick myths. Lucky you don't have a firearm, eh? All this aberrant behavior is due to Neptunian illusions (the god of the Unconscious is wooing Venus at an inopportune time) and Uranus is acting out, which will cast a sickly metallic shadow on your Sun. You will not understand yourself; you've never rebelled before, even when that bully Harold rammed worms down your throat and your father Igor beat you for swallowing them. You will be forced to reflect, dear Virgin, reflect, not introspect. If you don't know how to reflect, I suggest you do the Google, but watch out for neo-Buddhists, Pat Anderson fans and Shirley Maclaine followers. They will only make things worse. Also—don't mistake reflection for introspection. If you do, you'll be cycling like crazy up steep highways of loose stones, highways cluttered with sleeping lions and dying goats.. And don't bother paying therapists. The situation will not be chronic for most of you. Those of you with ascending Fish might do well to seek professional help.

The good news for most of you is that this uncharacteristically expressive behavioral pattern will pass after Halloween, when your Sun will be released from the weight of Saturn, Neptune will give up on Venus and Uranus will calm down. At that point, you will return to your usual routines without complaint, but you will have learned something, one would hope. Saturn's like that.

LIBRANS: You darling and charming emotionally vacant Librans can be quite the control freaks, with your cornucopias of insecurities. Do your best to refrain from expressing your overwhelming desire to possess your lovers, lest they flee in horror from behavioral manifestations of severe jealousy and envy. You will feel particularly vulnerable the week before and after Halloween, when specters of lost lovers are due to hover about your bedroom, enumerating past acts of your unconscious cruelty. Your ruler Venus will be no help to you whatsoever; she's retrograding in your First House. You will wallow in guilt from October 15th through November 13th, as stern Saturn takes jabs at your Iddish (no, this is not a typo --- I did not mean "Yiddish") Sun, and Neptune pokes his triton into your dreams. Use the guilt wisely to mend your ways. As I've suggested to Virgins, this is a season for reflection, as the light begins to wane earlier and earlier, like Youth. This is a season of shadows, no matter where you are. And you must always be aware that "balance" is actually extremely difficult for Librans, in this Age of Dementia.

You would do well to concern yourself with planetary problems and focus on natural resources rather than lovers, who always disappoint you anyway. Write to your political buffoons, organize protests, and make wall hangings out of organic sheep. With your Sun in the Fourth House, this would also be a good time to concentrate on home improvement if you have a home. If not, rearrange your box and decorate it with confetti thrown at weddings in public parks. Your aesthetic sense is keen. Take up an instrument like the kazoo and comb the streets for forgotten pieces of art. Make collages. Collages are fun!

The good news for most of you (those without Aries ascendants), artistes in particularly, is that once these planetary influences have had their sway, you will rush headlong with no inhibitions into a sea of creativity, as Neptune dances the two-step with your Moon.

SCORPIONS: You dear, dark, vengeful, shockingly nasty yet generally quite entertaining and talented Scorpions will have a tough time with sex this season. Your attempts to masque your perverse, fearful and fateful attraction to Thanatos by drowning yourself in fruity carnality (Eros) will fail miserably, leading to an intolerable state of depression and self-doubt, which is no good whatsoever for your delicate physical health, not to mention your complex psychic health. So STAY AWAY FROM SEX! Also stay away from relatives and old friends in nursing homes, despite your boasts about your capacity to deal with death. You've never been adept at understanding yourself or dealing with others without criticizing every move they make.

From September 31st through November 15th, you should avoid parties and oysters. Indeed, this is a good time to curb drastically your extravagant diet. Fish (other than sole) and red meat will exacerbate the tensions between you and yourself (i.e., the conflict between Thanatos and Eros). Eschew flounder in particular. I recommend rutabagas, radishes, pomegranates, bitter herbs, dry vermouth, and insect repellent. A multi-organic compound of prehistoric anti-toxins is also de rigueur.

Curb your sham-self-centric fear of what others are saying about you and don't alienate good friends by lashing out at them unfairly when you feel they've attacked you. Circumspection is challenging but possible, even for a Scorpion, with great effort. Do a Google and reflect. This will be difficult for you with Mars squatting illegally in the hood of your Sun, but do try. Otherwise, you'll end up alienating those who've put up with you for years despite your fits of misplaced fear and poorly targeted anger.

The good news for all of you without bullish ascendants and water bearing moons: you'll shed pounds and toxins, which will render you undeniably alluring to the 99th "great lover" in your life, poor victim of Paris Hilton-Britney Spears fashion tastes. If you're very careful with your nails, however, this particular schmuck could turn out to be THE ONE.

Readers may send comments, including objections and words of praise, as well as requests for personal astrological forecasts, to, Subject line: Saturnika. Comments may be published and are subject to expert cross-examination.

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