Literary Magazine Reviews

Posted February 16, 2009

Ascent - The Gettysburg Review - Glossolalia - The G.W. Review - The Kenyon Review - Miranda - Narrative - New England Review - New Letters - New York Tyrant - North Dakota Quarterly - Prairie Schooner - Quick Fiction

 

Ascent coverAscent

Volume 31 Number 3

Spring 2008

Triannual

Review by Maggie Glover

At the risk of sounding a bit dramatic, I have to say I was enthralled by the beauty contained within Ascent, the seasonal literary journal out of Concordia College. Filled with highly-memorable essays, poems and short stories, this issue found a place inside my tote bag for over a week as I found myself rereading it several times.

Harold Augenbraum’s opening essay, “The Future of Literary Culture,” is a strong beginning, sending a message that the editors of this journal take seriously those essays which actively engage the literary community in relevant and accessible discussion. I was so happy to find that this essay is a compelling example of literary work worth reading, as are the pieces that follow it!

Within this issue, each poem and story certainly maintain a distinct identity, but the theme of day-to-day human interaction (or how we figuratively and literally fit together, as in James Ryan Daley’s heartbreakingly gorgeous story, “The Design of Bodies") is the focus of much of the subject matter. I enjoyed reading Joseph Millar’s poem, “Marriage,” aloud to my boyfriend, as it is an entertaining and moving depiction of a “normal” relationship revealing its unique beauty in its day-to-day existence. I was also intrigued by the poem, “[Today, alone]”; being a long time fan of Jesse Lee Kercheval’s, I was excited to see her work here and am still caught up in the powerful resonance of this piece.

However, it is not the subject matter that makes this journal so successful. If forced to pinpoint the reason behind its success, I think that it must come down to balance. The work builds upon a theme without the journal feeling overdetermined. The journal also maintains a balance of imagery, musicality, and accessibility that is deeply moving.
[www.cord.edu/dept/english/ascent/]

 

The Gettysburg Review coverThe Gettysburg Review

Volume 21 Number 4

Winter 2008

Quarterly

Review by Henry F. Tonn

The Washington Post once accused this journal of “carrying literary elitism to new, and annoying, heights,” and TGR proudly uses this quote in their advertising. Under the expert guidance of editor Peter Stitt, they have been consistently presenting high level fiction, nonfiction, poetry, criticism, and art for many years. I have always been particularly attracted to the poetry, which ranges from the lyrical and evocative to the audacious.

In the latest edition, Floyd Collins shows his versatility by giving us a rough and ready poem about a duel between Jim Bowie and Norris Wright in the year 1827, and then follows it up with another poem entitled “Cannonade,” with the opening lines: “The sun’s warm benefice thaws brittle frost / A glaze of lacy ferns and white flowers / Melting in a slather down cottage panes.” Christopher Howell gives us history and mystery: “Rain again. Sir Francis Drake / turns up the ruffled collar of his coat. / No bloody chance of a carriage / anywhere in London at this hour.” And then there are the lilting opening lines of Linda Pastan's “Boundaries”: “In Monet’s Water Lilies, / willows dissolve into / flowers dissolve into water, / and form becomes a dream / in purples and blues / without scent or story.”

Kathryn Starbuck writes an excellent essay of a dysfunctional family entitled “My Mother’s Theories of Child Rearing,” which describes a brutal upbringing in somewhat dispassionate terms. Priscilla Long’s essay, “Solitude,” extols the virtues of aloneness without loneliness, and begins with a quote by Thomas Merton, followed by the sentence: “Solitude is delicious.”

In the fiction section, Harry Haines’s “Bodies at Rest” details the downward spiral of the marriage and life of a “mildly alcoholic” CEO of a small ad agency. There are also eight pages of starkly realistic art by Paul Fenniak, plus an essay of his work by Shannon Egan.

Several honorable mentions should be made here. The Gettysburg Review likes to publish new and fledgling writers, and most issues contain the work of several people with relatively modest credits. This is a policy that all major literary journals should consider adopting. Also, getting a two-year subscription here at the rate of forty-nine dollars must be one of the great bargains in the literary world today. That’s thirteen hundred plus pages of good stuff for the price of one dinner for two at a modest restaurant. C’est incredible!
[public.gettysburg.edu/academics/gettysburg_review/]

 

Glossolalia coverGLOSSOLALIA

Volume 1 Number 1

Fall 2008

Quarterly

Review by Micah Zevin

GLOSSOLALIA is devoted to the rare breed in the literary world known as flash fiction, pieces that are most often 500 words or less. With its abstract tic-tac-toe cover and its theme for this issue, “Tongues on Fire,” one gets the sense that the miniscule fraction of experiences that these narratives expose us to, as well as the time that passes us each day, are meant to be digested as rapidly as life seems to happen.

In Christine Boyka Kluge’s “Never Talk Back to the Water,” nature is alive and has its own voice, but especially the water, which speaks in its own tongue (so to speak): “The shallow water sings to children. It blows bubbles at its edges. Sometimes it squeaks playfully: the sound of party balloons rubbed together. Never trust it, even when it whispers in a gentle voice or hums innocently in your ears.” The water is so alive in this poetic narrative that you would think it was out to get you so you would rise to the top where you can breathe and return to the earth from this other world.

This journal, if not necessarily this genre, revels in an element of the surreal, the death defying, and going beyond its confines in its narratives, which comes across vividly and fantastically in Christian Bell’s “Cinnamon Roll”: “ He’d just returned from the restroom and ingesting a hallucinogen when the plane blew apart, hurtling him through the air like a tossed boomerang. His last image was the cinnamon roll he’d purchased from the airport Cinnabon, the tantalizing cream cheese covered three-dimensional coil, parked in the empty seat next to him.” In this almost humorous piece, the cinnamon bun represents all that was and is reality to the character, who is literally in some kind of slow motion, watching his life flash before their eyes.

In Binnie Brennan’s “Gramma’s Throne,” a young girl and her mother visit her grandmother who is under a nurse's care. The grandmother is a scary, scolding enigma to the young girl:

Sometimes I was scared of Gramma, like the time she scolded me for resting my elbows on the table. “Young ladies mustn’t slouch at the supper table,” she said. I wondered why no-one scolded her for slouching her neck the way she did, and when later I asked Ma, she told me it was like that because of her widow’s hump. But I remembered it before Grampie had passed and left her a widow. I wondered about that hump.

The granddaughter’s curiosity about her grandmother is touching, humorous and full of irony as to why she needs this throne that she sits on (a toilet), and why she chooses no longer to sit on it. This passage reflects the granddaughter's struggle to comprehend what her grandmother is going through physically and mentally as well as why she treats her the way she does.

These miniature narratives are anything but tiny in scope. The authors manage to fit whole complicated worlds and universes into these compact yet powerful and moral stories. Stories that manage to teach while practicing a journalistic restraint and an expedience in the expression and deliverance of their conflicts and conundrums and revelations of characters. Often, these stories are cinematic in their pretensions, except here one short scene or tale propels you rapidly and unexpectedly into the next one.
[glossolaliaflash.blogspot.com/]

 

The G.W. Review coverThe G.W. Review

Volume 29 Number 2

Spring 2008

Biannual

Review by Sima Rabinowitz

By accident, or by design, I’m not sure which, this issue of George Washington University’s student-led magazine is ripe with food imagery. The award-winning student fiction (called “Senior Contest”) sets the tone with Jessica Deputato’s “Flour and Water,” a story about food, family, and flesh (tattoos) – the undiluted bonds between them. A poem by Andrew Payton, “The Kraft Macaroni and Cheese Blues,” continues the food theme, albeit tongue in cheek, or should I say fork in powdered yellow cheese substitute. Amy Katzel’s poem, “I am Peeling You,” moves the reader from the endless possibilities in the title (eggs? apples? potatoes?) to a more graphic, no less food-oriented exploration (“off my eggshell wall”) and lament (“We did this to each other, / my voice, yours, / Minutes and years, mornings // all the slices of burnt toast, gallons of milk, / books started and finished”). Janelle Holden remembers a different kind of breakfast, one that evokes the flavors of a trip to “San Ignacio, Belize”:

JFK’s momma served us
hot dogs with scrambled eggs
hot breakfast,
oranges with salt
and habañera sauce,
a custard apple that
smiled like bloody gums
with broken teeth.

Anna Harrington considers breakfast, too, in her story, “The Unidentified Woman” (“An English muffin in the toaster oven, dollops of honey and strawberry jam, and a bruised banana for breakfast.”), a scene of memory and imagination. Christopher Higgins considers the flavors of nature in his poetic parable of Christ and Walt Whitman together, “Somebody Threw a Big Rock Through the Window” (“the trees looked like the way blackberries taste”). Finally, Gregory Randall’s poem about Maurice Ravel is titled “Insatiable Thirst” and here the image is purely metaphorical, a thirst for greatness, for enduring melodies, for more music.
[studentorgs.gwu.edu/gwreview]

 

The Kenyon Review coverThe Kenyon Review

Volume 31 Number 1

Winter 2009

Quarterly

Review by Sima Rabinowitz

A glorious 70th anniversary issue. “Within these pages we offer a model of what KR has aspired to across those decades,” explains the editor’s note, “remarkable stories by friends of long-standing…and emerging authors who offer vibrancy and freshness right now and who may well come to take their own places among the renowned.” Long-standing friends in this issue include Joyce Carol Oates, E.L. Doctorow, and Carl Phillips. This issue’s “New Voice” is poet Kascha Semonovitch, introduced by Kenyon Review poetry editor David Baker. The edition also features the winners of the magazine’s short fiction contest (limited to writers under 30 with submissions of no longer than 1200 words, selected and introduced by Alice Hoffman); poems by a roster of “poetry stars,” in addition to Carl Phillips (Linda Gregerson, Michael S. Harper, Rachel Hadas, Carol Muske-Dukes, among others); and essays by Rebecca McLanahan, Wyatt Prunty, and Alfred Corn.

Both the short fiction contest winners’ selection and the poetry “New Voice” section are introduced and championed by the writers/editors who chose them. Of Semonovitch, David Baker writes, “[she is] a real scholar of philosophy and a real poet. And quite the opposite of new poetry that drains itself of personhood or presence, her poems give voice to an engaged, connective, and even buoyant sense of a human being vividly alive in the world.” Here is a sample of this fresh and appealing work, an excerpt from a poem titled “Postcards” in which each section begins with an identification of location (“Belgium, outside Liege,” “Athens, in transit,” etc.):

Fruit in Europe is sweet
But not sweeter. The flowers
Are petite; not smaller.
I tell you this my niece
Who was just born because
You cannot be born in more than
One country. One has
One langue maternelle and one little school.

Alice Hoffman describes the very short fiction of the newcomers she has selected for the magazine’s fiction prizes as works which are “surprising and beautiful,” “evocative” and “elegantly written,” which weave plots effortlessly, by writers of “great promise.” The short form (fewer than 1200 words) has, indeed, generated stories that are tightly and deftly constructed.

Absolutely not to be missed is Rebecca McClanahan’s essay, “The Tribal Knot: Ties that Bind and Break Us,” a beautiful and memorable essay about reading the diary of a “long-dead,” “long-lived aunt,” which changed my thinking about the imaginative power and potential of personal family stories (they can be interesting!), the value of diaries, and the possibilities of the personal essay (okay, I never really doubted this, but McClanhan reminds me about why a great personal essay can really be the most satisfying sort of reading). This is a stellar issue of the journal. Let’s hope for another 70 years!
[www.kenyonreview.org]

 

Miranda Literary Magazine coverMiranda Literary Magazine

Winter 2008

Online Quarterly

Review by Henry F. Tonn

This is a somewhat quirky fledgling literary magazine that is just cranking up and has fond hopes for its future. Not only are the winter offerings presented online, but a print edition is also available for purchase. The website is a little difficult to negotiate, but the offerings range from fiction and poetry to interviews and book reviews.

My favorite was the very touching short story, “Death of a Witch Doctor” by Manuel San Juan, an attorney in Puerto Rico, who traces the life and death of an extraordinary fisherman in the Caribbean. The story is presented with the same dignity that Hemingway created for his hero in the acclaimed The Old Man and the Sea. Also engaging is Sylvia Fowler’s “A Freak Confession,” the story of an attractive and rather seductive dwarf who is a showgirl on Coney Island and lives with other dwarfs in a place called Lilliputia. There is something very haunting in this tale about the comings and goings of “freaks” as told by one of their own.

This edition also includes a superb book review of Norman Mailer’s An American Dream by the Australian, Sandra Hajda. She gives us a nice synopsis of the author’s rather tumultuous life, followed by an outline of the story, and then a critique of the work, with what seems a fairly balanced analysis of the book’s positive and negative qualities. She is as hard hitting and uncompromising as the author, saying, “As a documenter of cruelty and depravity, Mailer is above reproach.” She concludes that it is “a nauseating 238-page slice of ‘truth without love,’” but also considers it “an illuminating work, redeemed by its sheer evocative force.” Pretty strong commentary here, perhaps an example of literary criticism rising to the level of its object of criticism.

Also included: an editor’s blog, an essay, some poetry, and a few other tidbits. It will be interesting to see what direction this online publication takes in the future. They’ve made a pretty good start.
[www.mirandamagazine.com]

 

Narrative coverNarrative Magazine

Fall 2008

Online quarterly

Review by Henry F. Tonn

Anyone wishing to peek into the future of the online literary magazine needs only to pull this one up on their screen. There is a brief signing up process and then an impressive array of work that is available for the choosing. This particular issue has fiction, nonfiction, poetry, “features,” and one “classic,” which happens to be an essay on writing by W. H. Auden. To keep one further entertained, the website has cartoons that are changed regularly, a “ Poem of the Week,” and a “Story of the Week.”

Elizabeth Frye’s “The Lady’s Murder” is a simplistic murder mystery combined with charming graphic illustrations, which also serve to charmingly and graphically illustrate some of the rising advantages that online literary publishing will have in the future over the print media. Alexi Zentner’s “Trapline,” granted the 2008 Narrative Prize for fiction, is a chilling story set in wilds of Alaska, which certainly evokes favorable comparisons to Jack London at its best. I was also impressed with the Story of the Week, Steve Stern’s “Heaven is Full of Windows,” a touching piece of flash fiction about a hapless woman caught in a raging inferno high up in an old building. Finally, the editors produce a poignant memorial of Rust Hills, past fiction editor for Esquire, who died recently at age eighty-three in Belfast, Maine, of cardiac arrest: “Rust was, if not the last, all but the last of a generation of magazine fiction editors whose aspirations, however alloyed by commerce, were first and always purely literary.”

An examination of the contributors for this edition makes it clear that most have impressive credentials, i.e. teaching in university settings, having published extensively in the past, and/or having won numerous literary awards. Not many fledgling writers are represented. On top of everything else, the home page also features “4 Great Tales of Africa,” “4 Great Memoirs,” and something called “First and Second Looks,” which has a translation snippet of Goethe’s travels in Italy, 1786-1788.

We have here the online wave of the future, folks. Check it out.
[www.narrativemagazine.com]

 

The New England Review coverNew England Review

Volume 29 Number 4

2008

Quarterly

Review by Sima Rabinowitz

Fifteen pages devoted to a new translation of Jean de la Fontaine’s 17th century fables in verse (translated by Craig Hill)? How could these little tales of “country wisdom” interest me, I wondered? Wow, did I rush to a hasty and erroneous judgment! This is marvelous stuff. An impressive translation of work that is much more engaging and original than I remembered from college French classes. Difficult work, this example of “Revisitations,” as this section of the journal is called – verse that rhymes to mirror the original with precision, grace, and panache. And de la Fontaine’s little stories aren’t half bad either! These translations are from a full-length collection of the fables out this past fall from Arcade with illustrations – imagine! – by Edward Gorey.

De la Fontaine has some contemporary rivals. This issue features stories as sturdy, and hopefully as enduring as his, by Jon McMillan, Thomas Gough, Thea Goodman, Beverly Jensen, Rachel Cantor, and Dwight Allen. I favored Cantor’s “Tibet, New York.” Who wouldn’t want to read a story with the line “I gave up an audience with the Dalai Lama because you said I had to come home.” Cantor is a master of understatement and wry wit, and it works to her advantage here.

Nonfiction is equally impressive, with a moving autobiographical essay by Jay Scott Morgan; a dense, but deft essay from a forthcoming book about France in the age of Dreyfus by Frederick Brown; an analysis of travel writing by Robin Magowan; an astute essay contextualizing “War and Peace in our Time” by Michael R. Katz; and an odd, but pleasing little narrative about the theater by acclaimed British actress Fiona Shaw. Hard to know if some of what I like is good writing or purely British-isms: “By the time we opened at Britain’s National Theater I was a thing of worry.”

Eliot Khalil Wilson can give de la Fontaine a run for his money, too, with his poem “Origin Blues: An Elegy” (“I come from the leaning jack and the shattered rib, / the blasting cap and the phantom thumb; / I come from the chorus of pine, the boat ramp baptisms / and the great skillet of relentless June.”). Sara Johnson, too, has written a poem that should endure, titled “View From the Fence, on Which I Sit and Dangle My Legs” (“O the horses are silver. The horses are metal hearts. / The horses are the night’s blood congealed.”). And George Looney is more like de la Fontaine than he is, perhaps, like Wilson or Johnson, creating little daily philosophies out of thin air: “The world is // more what we think of ourselves than we’d be / comfortable admitting” he writes in his poem “How a Bus Terminal’s Like a Jukebox.” New England Review is a reminder that stories and words matter and can last centuries and still be brand new.
[www.nereview.com/]

 

New Letters coverNew Letters

Volume 75 Number 1

2008-2009

Quarterly

Review by Sima Rabinowitz

We enter our 75th year true to our mission, with three newer voices in fiction – Olufunke Grace Bankole, Ryan Clary, and Stephanie Powell Watts, who have no books yet but surely will – and one voice established and admired – a poet, essayist, and storyteller – Paul Zimmer…The same variety occurs among the poets and essayists – each generation of literary writer offering hope that we need not stay in the realm of ideology or ideas, but can move to something deeper, more human, more fun.

So writes editor Robert Stewart. He is writing about the work literature and writers must do to “confront humanity” with a “focus on the reality that saves everything: specific people and their circumstances.” The idea of a literary reality that saves everything is certainly an appealing and hopeful one, and I think it’s fair to say that New Letters has contributed a great deal toward making the world, if not more real, more bearable.

If this issue is any indication, New Letters is heading into its next three quarters of a century gracefully and powerfully. Stewart is most definitely right about the “newer” fiction voices whose strong stories are satisfying, original, and smart. What these stories have in common is uncommonly good beginnings, shapely sentences that propel their narratives forward naturally and easily and which sustain my interest, as well as uncanny timing.

These good stories are joined by three exceptional essays, the potent poems (muscular language, images that pop and sizzle, nothing soft or fluffy, no velvet edges) of eight poets, an interview with Thomas E. Kennedy (who contributes one of the essays), a half dozen reviews and commentary, and photographs by Michael Sinclair, Eli Reichman, and Margie Hemley. One of my favorite contributions is Robin Hemley’s essay “Field Notes for the Graveyard Enthusiast,” a model of perfect essay-making, just the right relationship between a personal voice and a personal story connected to a larger world view. And I can’t close this review without mentioning the artwork – outstanding color and black and white photographs which do precisely what Stewart describes in his editor’s note, the work of capturing specific people in specific circumstances with exquisite precision, the kind of precision that is as much about imagination as it is about reality. Congratulations to New Letters on 75 brilliant years, and here’s to 75 more.
[www.newletters.org]

 

New York Tyrant coverNew York Tyrant

Volume 2 Number 2

2008

Triannual

Review by Sima Rabinowitz

Tyranny. Power. Virulence. Virile. Vigorous. Vivid. I finally found my way from the authority to mastery. The New York Tyrant is, if nothing, both powerful (read strong language, strong images, strong opinions) and masterful (read self-assured, forceful, and determined). It’s also virile in a more conventional sense (predominately male contributors) and in a literary sense (muscular, aggressive).

What is most vivid in these two hundred pages (largely prose, a few poems) is a sense of immediacy. This work is a little raw, not in the sense of un-done, but in its preference for gritty, unadorned language. And there is a certain toughness (tyranny?) and, on occasion, a predilection for tones and voices that border on harsh. Joshua Furst’s story, “Same Old, Same Old” begins, for example: “Some twit is mouthing off on a talk show, idiotically.” There are no pretty little enjoy-the-spring-day poems or tenderhearted family stories with sentimental endings in Tyrant. Nursing home murders, graveside fiascos, drinking binges, pregnancy as a surreal experience, imaginary books, satire, sarcasm, and body parts and functions make up Tyrant’s contents.

The journal’s contributors include many new or emerging writers; some young, but highly regarded talent (poet and memoirist Sarah Manguso); some prominent and established voices (Gordon Lish); and, surprisingly, some legendary American talent, an excerpt from Delmore Schwartz’s In Dream Begin Responsibilities, a book that is quite right for the current economic and political climate.

The issue opens with a short prose piece by Alex Balk, “I Got Nowhere Else to Go! I Got Nowhere Else to Go,” which seems to be a mini essay, but might as easily be classified as sudden fiction. I suppose the following brief excerpt from his story may mean more to me than to other readers because I live in New York, but Balk’s description of a particular moment in place and time could certainly have larger implications (or perhaps even summarize a literary magazine): “It smacked me like a wave, and it was one of those New York feelings that you only let yourself feel every three or four years where you’re just overwhelmed by how everything is too close, there’s too much anguish, it’s all too much in your face.”
[www.nytyrant.com/]

 

North Dakota Quarterly coverNorth Dakota Quarterly

Volume 75 Number 1

Winter 2008

Quarterly

Review by Sima Rabinowitz

My favorite part of North Dakota Quarterly is the “sea changes” – poetic little narratives about books that changed the reader’s (now the writer’s) life (way of thinking). This issue is swimming in fine poems, stories, and essays, nonetheless, I am most taken with these musings about “books that matter” and appreciate the chance to engage with something that is part personal essay, part “lit crit” of a sort, part book review, and part something new, a kind of “moment in time” memoir, for as the editors explain in their note, “the impact of a book depends not only on how it is read but when” (emphasis theirs). Fred Arroyo discusses V.S. Naipul. Robert Lacy explores his relationship with Joyce. Richard C. Kane considers Bruce Chatwin. Engaging, too, in the same way is Patrick Madden’s “Divers Weights and Divers Measures,” an essay of observations and musings about encounters with people in Montevideo, bookended by a consideration of the work of the prolific, insightful, and influential Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.

Poems this issue reflect a generosity of vision, rather than narrow editorial predilections, from long narratives (Paul Mariani) to prose poems focused on landscapes (Gary Rainford) to Annie Boutelle’s “Quick,” taut couplets whose small images are larger than life (“and the ankles of girls swell // ravenously into those of old women // who putter around kitchens, consume the priest’s time”).

This issue of the magazine is heavier on prose than poetry, choices no less eclectic than the poetry, from Christine Hale’s family memoir, “Heavy Sex,” to “Starfall,” a story by Steven Yates about white/American Indian relations in a19th century village, to a chapter from a novel-in-progress by Sandra Hunter, a consideration of class and race embedded in a story of family relationships, to serious, full-length essays of analysis and criticism, Michael Faherty on Paul Blackburn and Erica Olsen on George Caitlin’s portraits of bison (American buffalo) – Caitlin’s paintings are truly worth contemplating.

I’ll close this review with advice offered at the beginning and conclusion of Joseph Bathanti’s tender and effective poem, “How to Bury the Dog”: “Put to bed the children early / the moon refuses such toil.” And “Let the earth do its work.” Put the kids to bed, pick a quiet spot where you can spend a long time without being disturbed, and let this journal do its work.
[www.und.edu/org/ndq/]

 

Prairie Schooner coverPrairie Schooner

Volume 82 Number 4

Winter 2008

Quarterly

Review by Sima Rabinowitz

In these painfully unsettled times, or perhaps I should say even more painfully unsettled than usual, I am grateful for the few things I can rely on. Out my west Bronx window, the sun still rises in the east, as far as I can tell. My boss will say “TGIF” with childish glee every Friday afternoon as if he had just invented the expression. The first sip of hot coffee in the morning will cheer me in a way that is unreasonably optimistic. And Prairie Schooner will satisfy and even comfort me with its steadfastness.

Particularly satisfying in this issue: Bradford Tice’s “The First Trial,” a long poem that converts a family narrative into a surprising linguistic exploration, a piece with a decided forward motion that merges the compulsion to retell a painful personal story about one’s essential identity with the impulse to convert a memory into fresh and indelible images. There is no self-pity, no sense of victimization, but instead a kind of emotional honesty that evolves out of the originality and strength of the language. The conclusion is both heartbreaking and hopeful:

The world may think there is no
Category, slot, fit for a boy in love with the lick
of glitz, but hooked to the plain as we are,
there is always a grand gesture, a way to thrive.

I like, too, emotionally charged poems – rich, not sentimental – by Susan Elizabeth Howe, Richard Robbins, Mary Crow, and Keetje Kuipers. Poetry stars (familiar names with exceptional credentials) this issue include Floyd Skloot, Diane Wakowski, and Susan Terris.

Of the issue’s three stories, all quite good, I am most excited by an excerpt from a genre I’ve started to call “the post-9/11 novel” by Janet Burroway, whose writing I have always appreciated for its unique intelligence and language that demands attention, but does not get in the way of the narrative’s natural evolution. The novel is titled Bridge of Sand and the chapter we have here begins: “What next?” Indeed. (“Love surged from the epicenter and rigidified.”)

Finally, I count on Prairie Schooner for smart reviews by thoughtful readers and critics. Seven books are reviewed in this issue, five from independent presses. I appreciate the introduction to books I won’t find easily, unless I seek them out, and for the careful and respectful reading by this magazine’s reviewers. Especially noteworthy in this issue: a review of Hadara Bar-Nadav’s A Glass of Milk to Kiss Goodnight by Rebecca Morgan Frank (2007, Margie).
[www.prairieschooner.unl.edu]

 

Quick Fiction coverQuick Fiction

Issue 13

Fall 2008

Biannual

Review by Dan Moreau

The form par excellence for online journals, flash fiction is quickly establishing itself as a form to be reckoned with. Quick Fiction has become the premier venue for flash fiction as well as one of the few outlets that devotes itself entirely to fiction under 500 words. Since the stories are so short, it’s hard to put down – unlike longer journals where one needs to come up for air every once in a while.

Quick Fiction is curiously addictive. The pieces, for the most part, tend toward the dreamier, more surreal and experimental side of fiction. You won’t find many straight up narratives with a beginning, middle and end. Rather you get something like Édgar Omar Avilés’ “Coffee,” which is three sentences long and occupies four lines of printed copy. Thanks to the folks at Quick Fiction, hopefully other journals will publish more flash fiction.
[www.quickfiction.org/]

 

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