Screen Reading

Mini reviews of current issues of online literary magazines

Amarillo Bay :: The Bacon Review :: The Boiler :: Brevity :: DMQ Review :: FRiGG :: Penduline :: Poecology :: Steel Toe Review :: StepAway Magazine :: Swamp Biscuits and Tea :: Sweet

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Posted September 24, 2012

Brevity CoverBrevity

Issue 40

Fall 2012

Semiannual

In response to the results of the VIDA Count (which counts the male to female ratio in publishing—I’ll let you guess which gender got the shorter stick), Brevity decided to put out a special issue called “Ceiling or Sky? Female Nonfictions After the VIDA Count,” which focuses on “the important contribution of female writers to the creative nonfiction movement.”

Guest Editor Sarah Fawn Montgomery says, “Working on a women’s issue of Brevity meant, first of all, examining my feelings on what it means to be a woman, thinking about the ways traditional definitions of ‘woman’ have limited and excluded, and exploring the ways women in publishing and the arts are represented. While women are certainly underrepresented in literary publishing, what is perhaps more revealing are the ways women’s published writing is relegated to certain themes and issues, certain forms and styles.”

In this issue of Brevity, women face all types of issues: trying to fall asleep while four bats loom overhead, gearing up for a day of work as a female officer, being a lesbian that others think needs to be “saved,” and remaining cheery while chopping up a chicken, the thigh, the liver, the gizzard.

Sonya Lea’s “First Bath” tells a visually and emotionally striking tale of bathing her husband after his cancer surgery. The once strong man that took care of her is now forty pounds lighter without much memory of his life, “a body taken apart and reassembled, a body that has not settled into the space of gravity, a body that knows nothing about its own scars, crevices, grumbles”:

I wash the dried blood near his chest tubes, move the water away from the tape down his middle, a wide bandage over two feet long, where his skin is quietly re-stitching. He is without his umbilicus, the part that connected him to his mama, the center that made him man, the place where my fingers found him in the dark.

In “Some Numbers,” Debra S. Levy expresses how flustered she was when her mother collapsed outside. She runs into the house to dial 911, but she accidentally dials 1-1-9 over and over again. Written in second person, it really connects with the reader, drawing us in and asking us to feel how she did in the situation.

You are numerically dyslexic. In college, when your German professor told the class to turn to Seite funf und vierzig (page five and forty, or forty-five), you turned to page fifty-four and sat there confused.
Your mother did not die that day, the day you dialed 119 instead of 911. Nor did she die the next day, or the next. It was a week later, in the hospital, and afterwards, after she drew her last breath, they closed the curtain around her bed and escorted you across the hall into an empty room so they could “take care of some things.” Alone, you sat in the dark, fingers twisted, wondering what things you yourself would now need to take care of.

This issue really begs you to feel and see lives through the eyes of these women. In the end, it’s not a magazine issue that is all that different than any other; the quality work just happens to all be from women. Beyond that, the art in this issue by Gabrielle Katina is very visually stunning, carrying the mood throughout the issue.
[brevitymag.com]

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Sweet CoverSweet

A Literary Confection

Volume 5 Number 1

September 2012

Semiannual

The editors of Sweet say, “We want you to find something here that you need, something perhaps not as practical as a potato, but just as vital.” In this issue, I found something I “need,” and I found it in Anne Haines’s poetry. Contributing three poems, she was able to reach out of her poetry and capture my attention, stirring up feelings that I didn’t know I had. In “Night Language,” the middle stanza stands out:

(My heart: an indoor cat that craves the hunt,
waiting in windows in the quivering
dusk. I want to devour
familiarity, to revisit the animal smell of your hair
in my vigilant dreams.)

And Part III of “Erosion” struck a cord with me; aren’t we all trying to find our place in this world?

            Please, I pray inside
my own head, please let me never be
so unsatisfied, so alarming and slow. Let me
be a part of my landscape,
hipslope, eyebright, moon.
If it’s freezing, let me freeze. If it’s
over, let me let it go
with some kind of sweet regret,
some kind of peace.
Let me love what there is to love,
what’s left shining in the stunning wind.

And the first three lines of “Are you the same person you were 30 years ago?” by Roberta Feins are a perfect metaphor: “You make yourself, but others / make thumb-marks in your clay. / Malleable, but you push back.” Along the same lines of questioning originality, Bonnie J. Rough questions what is really permanent in this world in her essay “Beautiful Fountain.” On her trip to Nuremberg, she visits history but soon realizes that everything she sees isn’t always the original like it appears to be:

But the longer I lived in Europe, the more I had to face the fact that even “originals” weren’t original in the sense that I hoped. They had been shined up, brushed off, freshly painted, carefully epoxied, with most parts replaced.

My favorite essay comes from Sheila Squillante who uses recipe essays as a means of coping with the loss of and feelings about her father. In a recipe for and preparation of meat ragu, she continues to go back to the idea of moving on and pushing forward, even when it is painful or it seems there is no hope. What I like most about the piece is how it is honest and how there is no resolution. She is clear that this is her life, and grief and pain are things we must constantly work past.

So, yes, Sweet may not supply that practical potato, but there is certainly lots here that needs to be read.
[sweetlit.com]

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StepAway Magazine CoverStepAway Magazine

Issue 7

Autumn 2012

Quarterly

Reading StepAway Magazine is taking a stroll down the streets of a city, though you’ll never know which city is next—it is all determined by the writers. StepAway Magazine is “hungry for literature that evokes the sensory experience of walking in specific neighborhoods, districts or zones of a city.” Each writer must do this in 1000 words or less.

In the first piece of the issue, “Muses over Manholes” by Murzban F. Shroff, the narrator—a disgruntled writer who cannot find a place to publish his work—wanders the streets of Mumbai and observes his surroundings:

Cars slow to maneuver through the downpour. There is water filling up at the sides of the road, below the pavement. Car wipers beat maddeningly against the windscreens. They remind the writer of middle-age women on treadmills, trying to work off their flab. Both face resistance from their own systems. Some wipers screech as they clean; some don’t function; some are conspicuous by their absence; they have been ripped off by urchins and traded in for a meal.

In a very short essay titled “Over Six Billion Served,” John M. Edwards makes a social commentary both on the way that people pass by a child asking for food, basically ignoring her, and about how the sign she holds up outside of McDonald’s reads, “DREAMING OF A BIG MAC . . .” He, too ends up turning and walking quickly away.

Donna Kaz’s poem makes seemingly comical commentary on yet another city. Although I have never lived in LA myself, Kaz claims that “To Walk in LA,”

is to curse the person
who urged you to move out here
saying
you could always move back
but no one ever moves back
from the swirling vortex
where nothing happens
where no one has walked for months
years
decades
millennia
Now addicted to mocha iced coffee drinks
and valet parking
the light of the sun so bright
you get away without reading glasses
five more years than you should
wear shorts 363 days
even though your bottom has spread
like an IHOP pancake
from sitting all the time

I like reading StepAway Magazine as a way to take a step in someone else’s world, someone else’s city. The scenery is different, the people are different, and, yet, the human emotions are still universal, allowing us to connect with the writing.
[stepawaymagazine.com]

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Posted September 17, 2012

Amarillo Bay CoverAmarillo Bay

Volume 14 Number 3

August 2012

Bimonthly

The amazing thing about online literature is that in order to put together an issue, the staff of a magazine doesn’t really have to be in close proximity. In fact, the founders of Amarillo Bay say that they haven’t lived closer to each other than 100 miles—and now live nearly 2,000 miles apart. Jerry Craven and Bob Whitsitt put out their first issue in 1999 and are now in their fourteenth year of publishing. This issue contains a wonderful collection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

At first seeming to be an innocent story of a child and her imaginary friend, Theresa Nealon’s fiction piece “When I See Her” nearly had me in tears by the end of it. To tell you the ending would be an injustice, but just know that this piece delicately straddles the ideas of perception and “seeing.”

“Snowman #4” by James Warren Boyd is a nonfiction piece that had me both clenching my teeth in horror and silently laughing as snowmen dancers, wearing their costumes for the very first time, participate in their first parade at Disney. As one would imagine, the snowmen tumble and fall, stranded on their backs like turtles, and the parade aide has to call for ground support. While waiting for assistance, he rolls on his side “like a fluffy bowling pin” to maneuver to the middle of the street. “Some other snowpeople had the same idea,” he says, “and we all move to form a white lumpy island in the middle of the street.”

In Minka Misangyi’s “The Haystacks,” a young girl named Rebekah discovers some of the—to her, horrifying—“joys” of becoming a woman as she witnesses her cat Fifi give birth to babies: “It can’t be true, Rebekah screamed in her head to dispel the images that collided like fragments in a kaleidoscope. The bloody pulsating masses that came out of Fifi, her legs open; her mother, her own mother the same; and even herself—surely such things could not be harbored within her.”

Elya Braden’s poem “What the Snow Says” is eerily magnificent: “You’ve never seen yourself dead in a dream before, / but I am always with you now, ready to gather you, gather you back up.” Perhaps a tribute to his grandmother, John McKernan’s poem paints a picture of an old woman and of silence:

No syllables
Explain the word quiet
More than the letters of her name
Engraved in granite
On a sloping hillside
In Omaha Nebraska

There are several more stories and poems to round out this issue of Amarillo Bay. Still strong since ’99, I hope this magazine is able to stick around.
[www.amarillobay.org]

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Poecology CoverPoecology

Issue 2

August 2012

Annual

Poecology, for me, was a return to the earth, to nature. The poems, dealing with crops, rivers, apples, bugs, sparrows, and summer squash, made me want to go outside, lay down in the grass, and breathe in the fresh air. Of course, instead, I sat in my house, cuddled with my cat, and finished reading and writing from a digital screen, but for brief moments, it was nice to be transported to a place outside my suburban home.

Tess Taylor’s “Easter Freeze” deals with the struggles of crowing crops in ever-changing and challenging climates:

Sky’s ADD, says Mora as we move
eggplant sprouts from 64s to 32s
shoving root-hairs down, transplanting–
like copying notes out from a notebook,
doing rote-work, piece-work, on for hours—
tomatoes have a better survival rate than poems, I say,
and Mora laughs.
But all this will be consumed so quickly
for all the tending that we do. Today
we move cukes and zukes with funny names—
cash crops for fancy restaurants—
For a moment, we’re in a hopeful time.

Sarah Ciston’s “TRAVELNET / 37° 45′ 7.87″ N, 122° 25′ 12.50″ W” put me into deep thought with phrases like “A bird flaps its wings in Bogotá, except the bird isn’t there, only its wings. This makes their flapping even more pronounced. This makes their rhythm a secret message no one hears” and “Write it down on anything that doesn’t move. Mark it permanent, so that it will stay where you cannot.”

Rebecca Mayer contributes several poems, many of them about the Ute. My favorite of hers is “Something She Remembers But Would Never Tell Anyone”: “Like when she was small and she thought God lived in a pink plastic bucket, or maybe it was that he / would eat from the bucket, so she could save scraps of French bread and pound cake and / sometimes whole cupcakes and feed God by placing everything inside.”

Diana Rosinus’s “Time Measured” made me stop for a moment and be still, catch my breath:

the patience in pause
                        the worship in wait
lost in irregular moans and breath, of wet
                                                                 and sweet
                                                                             of still and air
where the body like a gyroscope hums—
                                      time pauses here and waits.

There is plenty here to make you pause, to make you think, and to make you take in your surroundings. Poecology, though entirely online, can almost give a break from the digital world and remind us of the natural world around us.
[poecology.org]

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FRiGG CoverFRiGG

Issue 37

Summer 2012

Quarterly

I will admit that Twitter is somewhat of a new phenomenon to me, and I really only use it for work purposes, but the hash tag culture has me intrigued. When I discovered that FRiGG’s summer issue was entirely Twitter themed, I antcipated some laughs—and I wasn’t disappointed. In the editor’s note—appropriately titled “#WhatIsThis?”—Ellen Parker says, “most people on Twitter aren’t writers. (Which I love.) At least, they don’t know they’re writers. But you should see some of these people’s tweets. They’re brilliant. . . . All of the contributors here call themselves writers, and they were selected because the people I know online tend to be writers, but I want to make it clear: I love many people on Twitter who do not call themselves writers.”

Each of the pieces is a collection of past tweets, gathered and arranged for our enjoyment. Perhaps the writing wasn’t originally intended to become a “poem” or “piece of prose,” but writing is writing, right? Rather than comment on the pieces, I’ll just let it them do their job and let you laugh.

At the beginning of the issue is a piece by Jules Archer that starts, “You know what word we need to use more: paddywagon. . . . I’ve heard ‘Help Me, Rhonda’ three times today. Dear god, Rhonda, you bitch, help him.” The collection was an assortment of tweets by @JulesJustWrite. Here’s more:

Planned Parenthood next to a Motel 6. Seems fitting.
This is the kinda hotel room you’d do cocaine in.
things i hate: olympics. cabbage patch dolls. The Muppets. Basically, i am not an American.
Dear Hotel Bathroom, thanks for having a scale. Asshole.

Ms. Blooms’ Day: A Twitter Stream of Conscious” starts:

I hate it when I hit my fancy alarm’s “schmooze” button instead of “snooze” and I’m stuck making polite chitchat first thing in the morning. Someone bought up all the hair weaves and flip flops from the Piggly Wiggly and now I have no clue what to wear on casual Friday. Suri Cruise would make fun of my shoes.

Ravi Mangla’s piece actually reads as if it could be a story, ending with:

I wasn’t allowed to have soda as a child, so I had to drink my scotch neat. I have a soft spot for fontanelles. I don’t understand pears. This is my last hurrah before I give up last hurrahs for good. Anything you have to say to my sock puppet, you can say in front of me.

John Minichillo’s “Everything Tastes Better from a Star Wars Lunchbox” ends:

Me and the three-year-old watch Pooh cartoons, Pooh in the thralls of honey obsession, and the three-year-old’s mom says, “You know what honey is in a blues song?” I dream I watch out our window as a penguin wanders the neighborhood. Our three-year-old wakes us in the morning and asks if we want beer. We don’t, but are tempted.

So while it’s hard to take this issue of FRiGG seriously—but seriously, I don’t think you’re supposed to—it is certainly highly entertaining, and, of course, it makes me want to come back for future issues.
[friggmagazine.com]

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Posted September 10, 2012

The Boiler CoverThe Boiler

Issue 5

Fall 2012

Quarterly

With this issue, I started backwards, working my way from the bottom of the table of contents on up. After I read the creative nonfiction and the fiction, I couldn’t wait to move on to the poetry. This issue is filled with solid writing that breaks the boundaries of traditional writing and that surprises by heading toward cliché and then rocketing away from it.

When recalling significant historical events, such as when J.F.K was shot or when planes crashed into the World Trade Center, people always seem to have a story about where they were and what they were doing when they found out. Karen Dietrich’s nonfiction piece “Challenger” could have easily turned into another one of these “I remember when . . .” stories, but Dietrich, writing in present tense as if she is the age she was at the crash of the Challenger, turns her story into something more:

I can hardly stand to be around my mother right now because it’s all she wants to talk about, the poor teacher astronaut who exploded in seventy-three seconds, ten miles off the ground.
I know that there are ways to control the world. I’ve been working on them for a while now. If I stomp my feet five times before the garage door closes, then nothing bad will happen to me. If I microwave a hot dog for eleven seconds at a time, hitting start over and over again until it is finally warm, then no more space shuttles will explode.
I don’t tell my mother about the things I do to keep the world safe, but I think she understands somehow.

Sarah Sorensen’s “Grace Period” is about a woman going through a break-up. Writing about such a universal topic is hard because of how much it has been done before, but Sorensen delights readers through the details, turning the post-break-up, mundane events into comical scenarios:

Some people from a religious group stop by. They say that they are not Jehovah’s Witnesses. They say, no, not Mormons either. I let them in. I tell them that there is no furniture to sit on, so they stand awkwardly in the living room. The woman stares at the porn box on the floor. There is nothing of me in my smile. The man holds out a pamphlet. “I’m not much of a reader,” I say. He frowns. Then he sets the pamphlet down on a rather unwieldy stack of books. No one says anything for a while. They leave.

Lindsey Harding’s “HD Immortality” had me laughing throughout as the main character thinks he is destined for reality T.V., noting that “Danger without documentation is dumb. Really dumb.” Even as the plane he is in crashes, he can’t grasp the reality that he is in real danger, and it is not part of his “reality” television show.

T Kira Madden fiction piece “Body Language” starts, “It’s the way your moods cross at the ankles, the way your tongue flutters in time. Words only tangle things, speak from your bones, and it was your body language, I told you, that said it.” Although it is a piece of fiction, the words of the piece flow together in the mouth like poetry, like a love letter the narrator refers to.

I easily got lost in Sally J. Johnson’s poetry. “[i am the universe and i am]” has wonderful lines such as, “i am taking a brick from my body to leave in the / place of my destruction to tell my kids i stood” and “as big as a lady who stays up nights to drink constellations of / wine and who wakes with water running out of her skin fast so she can trace the places / where there needs yet to be tears.”

Be sure to read the rest of the poetry by Emily Bonner, Scott Keeney, Dallas Lee, Thomas Lux, George Moore, Sergio Ortiz, Joanna C. Valente, Robert Wexelblatt, and Changming Yuan as well as the other nonfiction piece by Matthew Zanoni Müller and the fiction by Beth Morgan. Only on their fifth issue, The Boiler truly only includes work that is fresh, engaging, and surprising.
[theboilerjournal.com]

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DMQ Review CoverDMQ Review

disquieting muses quarterly

Summer 2012

Quarterly

This issue of DMQ Review displays an excellent assortment of contemporary poetry, all arranged with artwork from Margeaux Walter. Many of the images are gif images of people who move and interact with the scene. The poetry is diverse from humorous pieces, to political ones, to lyrical ones.

“Portrait of a Woman in Kitchen” by Danielle James-Pruett has an excellent taste of language: “before morning unties its birds, before heat / pings its way from room to room, her breakfast music / shakes me. . . .” Brandel France de Bravo’s “The Night Kitchen” is playful as it personifies items in the kitchen:

the trivet eloped with the teapot,
the spatula proposed to the pan,
and somewhere, they say,
the sieve and whisk are shacking up.

“Sappho: Decoded” by Christine Clarke is gracefully assembled, like music to the ear: “I saw you, and I am [a scythe, a sickle, a moon]. I cannot stop / clinging to the curve of your fingertips.” Reminiscent of France in 1940, it ends, “Your [fallen blackbirds] burn my heart . . . carefully I fold and unfold / myself into an origami prayer.”

I can’t help but fall in love with the description of “Dina” in James Reidel’s poem: “Her breasts, with as much tent to them as rose petals, barely rose and fell. I have seen more life in a dress hung on the wash line. Whomever she saw in the wall behind us had exhausted her and she refused our questions like our spoonfuls of broth.”

T. Zachary Cotler gives a whimsical social critique in “Gynocracy” in which power is given to “scientific, optimistic, and artistic women,” creating a nation where “Only refined, emotive men may become citizens; only women make policy. Nobody bites anybody save cravingly on ear, breast, neck, or thigh.” Who would have thought all of that is possible from a tribe of baboons and a tub of pork and spaetzle?

And finally, the featured poet Molly Peacock contributes “Authors [a Poem in 9 Screens].” In between each “screen” are descriptions for the corresponding background collage illustrations. The thread throughout the poem is the Authors card game (similar to Go Fish), starting the poem with the question “Why match dowdy Louisa May Alcott / with the mirror of herself?”

And, of course, there is more poetry from Greg Hewett, Lisa Hiton, Martha Silano, Ryan Mattern, Christine Clarke, Alice George, Anhvu Buchanan, Joannie Stangeland, and W. Todd Kaneko. DMQ Review publishes and excellent array of poetry; I’m confident everyone can find a favorite here.
[www.dmqreview.com]

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The Bacon Review CoverThe Bacon Review

September 2012

Monthly

With a selection of two poets and two pieces of fiction, this issue of The Bacon Review offers a spotlight on four writers, giving all of the writers the focus they deserve.

Minka Misangyi contributes a piece of fiction titled “The Mermaids Tail,” in which the little girl Darlene wishes for nothing more than to be a mermaid. She stays with her family on vacation at the beach, and, after overhearing a quarrel between her aunt and grandmother about a “monster” that lives under the grandmother’s bed, Darlene starts to wonder how such a monster is made. She speculates to her two cousins Rebekah and Tommy:

Darlene and Rebekah dropped their heads. Maybe Tommy was right. Their grandmother was a lady, well-mannered and proper, and devoted much of her time with them to making sure they knew their manners too. Certainly a respectable old woman could not—would not—have anything to do with monsters.

The child-like innocence is captured perfectly in this piece as the children cannot and will not understand conversations between adults, why a human cannot be a mermaid, and why fish wash up dead on the shoreline.

The other piece of fiction, by Penelope Mace titled “Pharmacists and Celts,” is an excerpt from a novel that also deals with the child’s perspective. Four children, left by their parents, try to live on their own in a new city as the two eldest become the “mother” and “father” of the family. The characters are developed more throughout the excerpt; I’d like to learn more about them through the novel.

Mariela Griffor contributes three poems including “Daphne and Non-profits in the Western Hemisphere,” “Chiloe Island,” and, my favorite, “Andres the Barbarian,” which is a poem dedicated to the characterization of Andres:

For me he was the man who taught me to read,
and the man who hit me in the head
every time I forgot the letter “H”.
How can I pronounce the letter “H”
if it didn’t have any sound?

Nils Michals’s poety works with anaphora and repetition of words as the poem builds from beginning to the end, melding ideas the ideas together. See this in “Chantepleure” (“chantepleure” means to sing and cry at the same time):

Soon chantey, soon soup, soon cold, soon fog,
soon snow’s program in lieu of,
soon noon snow, a handmaiden not to touch,
for who, whose knife for soup, whose touch, for what
fee, for what strange attractor is mimicry

While I was drawn more to the fiction than the poetry in this issue, it is a nice sized issue, giving a sampling of a select few authors, rather than publishing a ton of work each month. I like this approach as a way to discover new writing and writers to follow. The Bacon Review seems like a journal that is really dedicated to its writers and that values the writing it publishes.
[www.thebaconreview.com]

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Posted September 4, 2012

Steel Toe Review coverSteel Toe Review

Contemporary Southern Arts & Literature

Issue 13

Summer 2012

Quarterly

I have never lived in the South (aside from the first two years of my life in Texas, which doesn’t count), and I certainly don’t know anything about Alabama, but this Birmingham-based magazine that strives to “provide a vehicle through which Alabama artists and artists from elsewhere can connect and find common ground” doesn’t seem foreign. In fact, it accomplishes its goal of uniting writers to a common ground.

In the fiction section, I most enjoyed Lindsey Walker’s “The Bone Picker,” in which a first-person narrator observes a widow (the bone picker) and her relationship with a man. Short, it is a snapshot of a life and builds great lines such as, “He realizes her eyes aren’t trophies, but catchers’ mitts.”

Peter Fraser’s “Len Beastly Pauses” is a fiction piece in which form and function match. The narrator has seemingly hid himself away, until a person from his past, Len Beastly, locates him. However, Len Beastly is the one who dominates the conversation and the story, telling about all the narrator has missed. The last line of the story says, “And the world just carries on, even when I’m not in the plot.”

Jéanpaul Ferro’s “You Know Too Much About Flying Saucers” starts “I dreamed a hole through her head, where blue / cathode ray spilled out over space and time” and continues with vivid imagery to portray a complicated relationship.

In the poetry section, also make sure you read “The American South” by Danna Molly Weiss, “Gypsy Mary” by P.S. Dean, and “Drawer” by Thomas Alan Holmes.

While there is certainly a setting of the South, the ideas and stories here are universal. Each piece is unique and engaging, making this issue of Steel Toe Review worth reading and spending an afternoon with.
[steeltoereview.com]

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Swamp Biscuits & Tea coverSwamp Biscuits and Tea

Issue 1

August 2012

Quarterly

I read this issue throughout the week entirely from my phone, in bed, before I fell asleep and started dreaming. It felt appropriate as all of these long stories contain an element of dreaming; some of the stories incorporate it more while others just mention a dream that the character had. Yet as much as these stories contain surreal and dream-like elements, the stories are about much more than fantasy.

In “Desert Lights” by Alex Aro, the main character’s skin walks off, leaving him exposed. He tells about a recurring dream where a vacuum salesman and an artist run into each other in the desert. The vacuum ends up sucking up the artist’s paints and then explodes them, “recreating the desert into something new, something glorious.” The main character has his own adventure in the desert, following the unknown lights with his crush. It turns out that the lights are lanterns, one of which is made from his skin that has wandered away: “My past life is floating above me, my former wrists are tied together and form a corner of the kite and are flapping in the cold breeze, waving goodbye.”

“Dinos” by Beth Spencer, my favorite in this issue, may contain dinosaurs, but it is very much grounded in the real world. It’s about a woman who is trying to deal with her divorce when some baby T-rexes show up at her house. She spends the story taking care of the dinosaurs, trying to convince a select few people that they exist, and wondering if she still has her sanity:

Is she crazy? Surely it’s strange that she’s doing so much better than most freshly divorced women. Shouldn’t she be miserable? Trouble is, she doesn’t want to talk to a therapist about her marriage. Or her family. What she wants to talk about are the dinos. The therapist she needs would also have to be a paleontologist.

And “Fire Season” may be about two girls who can use dreams to travel and project, it is essentially a story about friendship and trust. In “Burnt Offering” by Marc Lowe, the narrator is haunted by a nightmare that forces him to write in order to save his life. And in “Bus Quakes” by Adam C. Richardson, the main character is, in the end, finally reunited with who he really is—some kind of magical being—giving him understanding about humans and their suffering.

This issue is certainly mystical, but the writing is good, and it seems as if the editors are able to publish the writing they are looking for. It is a great first issue for them.
[www.swampbiscuitsandtea.com]

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penduline coverPenduline

Issue 6

2012

For an online publication, Penduline offers a massive amount to read in flash fiction, sudden fiction, prose poetry, and short fiction. This issue, themed "WTF?," contains strange, but entertaining stories, no doubt aimed to make you say, “WTF?”

Several of the stories are about non-human characters such as “Diary of a Sex Doll” by Anthony Isaac Bradley (narrated by the sex doll: “Matthew kissed me today. It was a good kiss, rough, but not desperate. I wouldn’t mind another one of those.”) and “TGIF” by Naomi Krupitsky Wernham, about a fly (“He hated being on walls, evading flyswatters like he was the one throwing food all over his house and talking about disgusting things.”).

“Nose Antenna” by Richard Peabody is a humorous piece about a man trying to pull out a long nose hair, “thick and black and nasty looking like a black mamba snake seen on shrooms.”

“Fifty-Nine Cents” by Mira Martin-Parker explains how difficult it is for a person who likes to keep to him/herself to “do well in this world”: “It’s almost impossible to succeed when you’re not interested in television. When you don’t have a cell phone. When you like to spend time by yourself.” The story is entertaining in its truth; it does seem difficult to succeed without keeping up-to-date with the happenings and media.

There is so much to read in this issue; make sure to take a look at Steve Castro’s “Repaying a Debt,” Éanna Cullen’s “Life on the Rails,” Thomas Griffin’s “To Write or Not to Write” (“If writing were the equivalent of a back rub, well, then, I suppose sheets of paper would line up in reams for their turn.”)

Other authors in this issue include Brad Garber, Martin Cohen, Dan Crawley, Nicole Wolverton, Howie Good, Timothy L. Marsh, Sarah Wilson, Molly Bonovsky Anderson, Dave Lordan, Tom Daley, Susan Pashman, M. V. Montgomery, Daniel Maclaine, Chad Stroup, Roland Goity, Daniel Romo, Mark Rosenblum, Gary Leising, Barbara Westwood Diehl, Josh Crummer, Brad Garber, Kelsey Garmendia, Thad DeVassie, and Patrick Kelling.

And while it seems like there is a lot here for an online magazine, it is all quality work. There are lots of goodies, well worth returning to several times during the week, if need be, to finish reading.
[www.pendulinepress.com]

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