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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted August 15, 2013

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  • Issue Number Volume 63
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Apalachee Review is an attractively designed magazine hailing from Tallahassee, Florida. The editors are Michael Trammell and Jenn Bronson. The quality of work is high across all five genres presented—fiction, poetry, essay, book review, and visual art—with fiction getting a nod as the particular strength of this issue.
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  • Issue Number Issue 11
  • Published Date July 2013
  • Publication Cycle Monthly online
Only just under a year of publication, Bodega seems to be in its element. This issue is cohesive; it works together, and not because of a theme or genre. Bodega pieces capture vivid imagery, placing words and phrases next to each other in surprising and delightful ways. Such as “we adopted the ferns / as our pets and spent long hours brushing their hair” (Sarah Burgoyne’s “Autobiography”), and, “When the floral bouquets are passed from a beautiful woman / and the ribbon is cut, one aquarium opens and another is drained.” (Jake Levine’s “Kim Jong Un Looking at Things”). Read both of these poems; they are seriously good.
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  • Issue Number Volume 9 Number 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle 9-Month
This issue of Burnside Review brings with it some big changes. While it is still unmistakably an issue of Burnside Review, a new poetry editor, John Pursley III, and a new fiction editor, Adam O’Connor Rodriquez, have brought a new energy to the journal and are taking the journal to the next level.
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
According to Wikipedia, Professor Matthew Strecher defines magic realism as “what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe.” The article goes on to say that “magical realist texts create a reality ‘in which the relation between incidents, characters, and setting could not be based upon or justified by their status within the physical world or their normal acceptance by bourgeois mentality.’” Who wants to think of themselves as having a bourgeois mentality, accepting things as “normal” and thereby obstructing magical realism? Not me. This issue of A Cappella Zoo—entitled “Bestiary” because, I assume, it’s the best of the first demi-decade of this labor-of-love journal of magical realism of all kinds—completely dismantles whatever bourgeois mentality I, or you, may be harboring. It will charm you, in every sense of the word.
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  • Issue Number Volume 1 Issue 3
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Color is what first struck me with Catamaran Literary Reader. A quick flip through the pages reveals not only the abundance of visual artwork, but also the vibrancy of their colors and movement. The cover is “Jump #5,” one oil painting among four in the issue by Sarah Bianco which depicts several people in different stages of a leap downward against a background of yellow, blue, and red. It’s hard to tell where they will land. I want to guess that the cover was chosen to match Catamaran’s emphasis on the “California regional themes of environmentalism, personal freedom, innovation, and artistic spirit.” For ages, people have come to California to live their dreams. For many, the move must have felt like a leap into a beautiful unknown.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Loras College, which publishes the national undergraduate literary journal Catfish Creek, sits near the banks of the Mississippi River in Dubuque, Iowa. The contributors hail from colleges across the country, but it is through Loras, which is serving as a kind of modern-day Paris in uniting these writers, that we see their work collected and their spirits compiled.
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  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Ask anyone here at NewPages, or anyone really who knows me, and they’ll tell you I can’t pass up anything cat-related that catches my eye. Anthony Santulli’s “Sorry for Your Loss,” though not necessarily sentimental, came to me only a day after my mother’s cat was put to sleep. Only a paragraph long, this short piece of nonfiction holds symbolism, even as the four of them “crawl up the stairs on all fours.” He writes, “What is it you’re holding on to? Is it the ninefold freedom of springtime shedding and arched backs, of sandpaper tongues and their baths?” Perfectly compact, and wonderfully cat-like.
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  • Issue Number Number 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The mission and vision of Cruel Garters is “to publish both well-established and newer voices in a small, stripped-down publication that minimizes literary trappings and focuses on the work itself.” They state they prefer “the short, lyrical, and odd but are most interested in work with its own voice and aesthetic.”
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  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
drafthorse focuses on “fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, visual narrative, and other media art where work, occupation, labor—or lack of the same—is in some way intrinsic to a narrative’s potential for epiphany.” This Summer 2013 issue speaks to that, loud and clear.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Published by faculty members and students of West Kentucky Community and Technical College, the Spring 2013 issue of Exit 7 features fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art originating from a wide range of geographical and stylistic traditions. The volume is slim and handsome, bookended by images of paintings by Bo Bartlett, whose work is also showcased in the middle of the journal.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Issue 1
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
This issue of Four Ties Lit Review has a, perhaps unintentional, unifying theme: looking at people and communities in a new light and learning to accept the differences and overcome the boundaries—whether it is the readers who are asked to do this or the characters in the stories themselves.
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  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
This issue is titled “Sustenance and Survival,” and while the editors claim that the most direct connection would be through stories about food, the pieces “expand our definitions of nourishment.” Editor-in-Chief Leigh Thomas writes, “this selection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry offers up a feast of ways to envision sustaining ourselves that have very little–if anything at all–to do with food (at least as we normally imagine it).”
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  • Issue Number Volume 43 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
American soldiers maintain a fine tradition that is far removed from the work they do abroad: they create great literature that helps the rest of us understand the true nature of the battles fought on our behalf. Kurt Vonnegut helps us understand World War II in the European theater, and Tim O’Brien offers the rest of us a visceral account of how it felt to be an American soldier in My Lai only months after the massacre. This issue of The Iowa Review spotlights the work of soldiers who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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  • Issue Number Volume 56 Number 2
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Read vertically top to bottom, the final words of the lines of Ronald Wallace’s “Sex at Seventy” form this haiku by Issa:
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  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
The magazine Parcel is a city of mirages, each component story its own minaret and long stretch of shadow. One such structure is Rebecca Emanuelsen’s short exercise “Transmissions.” I found it especially evocative of the power of allegory. The characters channel various spirits from different continents and eras. We have the brooding Bronte men and the sequestered Burnett children, the precocious du Maurier innocents and the brittle old women who will always transcend time with the ultimate lubricant of such travel—old money. I felt that Emanuelsen teased this reader too much with allusion, where the word “quite” infected the page and the aforementioned characters did seem borrowed from other casts, but she wrote a story I couldn’t put down. The premise is that of a bookseller who becomes entrapped in a strange thread. (Yes, it leads her to an unexpected peace, but you won’t guess where). Her opening is perfect: “Olette wakes one morning to find a string running taut from her left ear canal out through the crack beneath her bedroom door. She sits up and touches the place where the thread connects to her head, perplexed by its presence.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 20
  • Published Date April 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
If there is one thing you can count on when it comes to literary journals it is that Smartish Pace will always produce a solid body of poetry in each and every issue. This issue is thoughtfully constructed, well crafted, and satisfying. Coming up on its fourteenth year of publication, Smartish Pace is only getting stronger.
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  • Issue Number Volume 34 Number 1
  • Published Date Fall 2012
  • Publication Cycle Annual
After everyone decided that Google changed the way Americans think, certain technocrats decided that we read differently too—gone were the days of “linear” reading: enter the temporary narrative, with Chaucer in the bathroom, Proust in the kitchen, Ginsberg in the den, collectively a kind of horizontal homage to Lowell or anyone who could compete with the subtitles of the foreign films playing in the bedroom. It could be that these alphabetic adventurers simply wanted a literary magazine, with twenty-five different voices in one compact book of leaves. Soundings East, for example, captures that American premise well. It showcases the end of moral innocence (Doug Margeson’s “The Education of Arthur Woehmer”), the liberation of internees at Santo Tomas University in the Philippines in 1942 (Anne-Marie Cadwallader’s “Waiting”), and a love story complex enough to cross time and space and species (Janet Yoder’s “Getting to Misha”). But what I found especially nonlinear about the enterprise was the way that the writing began.
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  • Issue Number Volume 9
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Halfway through The Tusculum Review, I feel like I have to come up for air: so much of it seems to take place in a small space, i.e., the writers’ and the characters’ heads. The poems jump from one time or image or location to another within the space of two lines, though individual sentences and fragments offer the occasional reward. Some of the essays are entirely cerebral, while others are a more traditional mix of storytelling and meditation. The stories, while mostly well-written, don’t quite hit the mark, and I’m left wondering: is there more?
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  • Issue Number Number 9
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Richard Farrell, the creative nonfiction editor of upstreet magazine, opens the 2013 issue with a short essay about a boy who finds unexpected treasure: “Sea levels rise dramatically . . . Thousands of stones have washed up and cover the beach, as if the sea’s reliquary has emptied its contents at the child’s feet.” The stories, essays, and poems in this issue are like the stones found on Farrell’s beach: polished and smooth to the touch.
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  • Issue Number Volume 26 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Redemption is at the heart of Witness magazine’s latest issue: “Heavy with religious and secular meaning, weighted with emotion, and anchored in morality, redemption is a frequent theme in literature.” This vast theme is examined and exposed in this offering of stories, poems, and essays from an award-winning literary journal.
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