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subTerrain - Number 44, 2006

  • Issue Number: Volume 5 Number 44
  • Published Date: 2006
  • Publication Cycle: Triannual
You could try cocaine, or you could read subTerrain. This Vancouver-based magazine is rough around the edges but compensates with winning, dark intense fiction and warm, intelligent nonfiction and poems. The piece I can’t stop talking about in this issue is “The Shark Tumour Collection,” a short story by Jill Connell. An 18-year-old pet store employee with cancer decides sharks, an animal made entirely of cartilage, would be the perfect anti-cancer talismans. A representative moment comes when the heroine realizes: “There was a shark-killing factory someplace, probably in Seattle, killing massive amounts of sharks just so these useless quack pills could snuggle up to my cervix. But I wasn’t crying about those fish either. All of a sudden it just seemed like everything was dying.” In “Flush,” a piece of creative nonfiction by Madeline Sonik, the first screenshot of a flushing toilet sparks ruminations ranging from censorship to feminism to family, especially Sonik’s alcoholic, constipated father. “The toilet flushes and the world changes,” she writes, making a claim so ridiculous she proves its truth. Maurice Spira’s political allegories gave texture (and color), and the clever visual poem “Backup,” by Tora Triolo, added playfulness. Though stories like “The House” and “Angel Dust ’83” don’t do justice to the troubles of their characters, subTerrain keeps its promise to present “obsessive new fiction,” plumbing most compulsions with pathos and warmth. If that’s not enough, they thrash Charlie Sheen’s poetry, which, having now read it, may be a new obsession of my own. []
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Review Posted on July 30, 2014

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