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Swink - 2004

My background for loving art is completely pop-music based, so of course some aspect of me is eternally High Fidelity bound to rank and list and award and order all that I read. It is in this vein that I have to be completely, over-the-top hyperbolic and reverent and honest: Swink is certainly the best new literary magazine of the year, and if the last few years hadn’t been so great (One Story, Land-Grant College Review, further back to McSweeneys and Tin House) this journal would take the prize for best in a few years. Okay, why the lauding? First: poems from Bob Hicok, Cathryn Essinger’s “Fog”, Misty Harper’s “11 Years Old &” and “Slips of the Eye.” Chris Offut’s “Maybe DeLillo is There!” Charles D’Ambrosio’s “Doo-Wop Down the Road: Richard Brautigan,” and David Ulin’s “One-Hit Wonder.” Good god, just to get his name more and more in print: the interview with Adam Haslett. Notice I’ve not even touched fiction yet. Of which there’s very much too much to say. Andrew Foster Altschul, wherever you are, someone owes you a beer; Margaret Malone’s “Sailing Alone Around the World” is devastating and breathtaking, and if you read Deirdre Shaw’s “The Summertime Party” without wanting to be friends with her you need to find out what your heart’s made of. Still, though, it gets better: I can only presume and hope the Swink set will continue with what they’re calling, perfectly, Damaged Darlings, collaborative stories between two authors. One author with a work that’s loved but neglected, unfinished, hands the work-in-progress to another author, who finishes it, reworks it, brings a new breath. The results are fucking brilliant, to be blunt, and both stories within, David Hollander and Nelly Reifler’s “Whatever We Were Beforehand” and Amy Bloom and Chris Offutt’s “I Was Dancin’ with My Darlin’” work as stories, as mysteries (which author wrote what?), as strange and beautiful harmonies. Seriously, buy the magazine. Send Swink your money and gratitude. Pray for Volume 2. [Swink, 244 Fifth Ave. #2722, New York, NY 10001. Single issue $8.] - WC

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Review Posted on March 31, 2004

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