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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted September 16, 2013

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  • Issue Number Volume 71 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Antioch Review, as its website explains, has been publishing high-quality poetry and prose by the likes of Joyce Carol Oates (whose haunting 1966 “The Dying Child” appears in the “From Our Archives” section of this issue), Gordon Lish, Edith Pearlman, T. Coraghessan Boyle—the list is long and impressive—for more than seventy years. Over its venerable lifespan, it has seen changes in ideology, format, and focus, all a testament to its adaptability and continued emphasis on intelligence, currency, and “the best words in the best order.” Every year, TAR publishes an all-fiction issue (with a few poems), a celebration of the genre with more than twice as many entries as most issues contain. This year’s volume is a winner.
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  • Issue Number Issue 47
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Banipal’s 47th issue features fiction from Kuwait. I’ve never read anything by a Kuwaiti writer, and all I know about Kuwait I know from images of the 1990 Iraqi invasion: torched oil wells lining the blue sky and then what seemed to turn almost immediately into a decades-long American affair. Peacetime Kuwait is indistinguishable, in my mind’s eye, from any other small Gulf country, with an oil reserve, women draped in black, workers from India and the Philippines. What makes Kuwaiti fiction Kuwaiti?
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  • Issue Number Volume 31 Issue 3
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Occupying the centerfold of this issue of The Bloomsbury Review is a wise, pithy conversation between two award-winning women writers of the West: Page Lambert and Laura Pritchett. Both have written for decades in multiple genres, but I had never heard of either. Their conversation is inspirational—grounded, specific, filled with references to writers, books, and the relationship between place and heart. “We are bound by a real and raw love of books and land,” Pritchett says near the end. For her, books and the natural world are so linked she “can barely see the difference,” possibly because she read books by the river when she was a child. Lambert says that Place (with a capital P) is as central to stories as a main character, listing Isak Dinesen, Jack London, and other writers as having formed her sense not only of place but also of writing that transfigures Place as Place transfigures the characters within it. The conversation—whose provenance is nowhere listed (where did it take place? When? Who transcribed it, or was it originally written rather than spoken?)—introduces me to women whose work I see I must learn more of. But by “work” I mean not only their fiction and nonfiction but also the unconventional ranching work they do daily, devoted to livestock, home, and place—the American West. Because this is where I live, this issue—this conversation—calls to me in particularly strong ways.
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  • Issue Number Volume 10 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Now ten years old, The Cincinnati Review has established a reputation as one of the top literary journals in the Midwest. This issue, which includes work by writers such as Porter Shreve, Daniel Anderson, Erin Belieu and Michael Mlekoday, holds up to the journal’s reputation. The issue includes a hefty mix of fiction, poetry, artwork, nonfiction, and reviews, with formal and aesthetic diversity showcased in all categories.
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  • Issue Number Volume 40 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Colorado Review has found the sweet spot, with material accessible enough to be enjoyed and edgy enough to shake you up. Terry Shuck’s wrap-around cover photograph sets the tone, with idyllic clouds and leafy trees above a dry swimming pool, patched and smeared with shades of ocher, aqua, and green. The empty pool has an eerie look. Are those clouds and trees really all that idyllic? The image makes you look twice.
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  • Issue Number Number 78
  • Published Date August 28, 2013
  • Publication Cycle Weekly online
Publishing short issues every week, Crack the Spine puts forth inventive and intriguing pieces. Because the issues come out so frequently, they are short—but packed with great readings.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
According to the mission statement, “First Inkling is a visionary print and online medium dedicated to seeking out the most talented student authors in the English language, and publishing their work alongside criticism from the most important writers of our age.” With its second issue, the magazine has attempted to keep this mission foremost in mind. The collection of student writing in five genres between its artful covers is representative of writing programs and universities from ten of the United States and the UK. Published by Rockland Community College of the State University of New York, it lays claim to being “the best college and university writing in English.” These momentous goals aside, the 2013 issue of the magazine contains some gems to be mined by thoughtful readers.
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  • Issue Number Volume 19 Number 2
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fourteen Hills, the literary journal of San Francisco State University, has already received a lot of praise. This journal specializes in presenting experimental and progressive poetry, fiction, and illustrations from vibrant artists living in the US and abroad.
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  • Issue Number Issue 12
  • Published Date Autumn 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Gone Lawn is a journal that aims to publish “innovative, nontraditional and/or daring works, both narrative and poetic, that walk the difficult landscapes and break up the safe ones, works which incite surprising and unexpected feelings and thoughts.” Read one piece, heck, just look at the art in the issue, and you’ll see they are succeeding in their goals.
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  • Issue Number Issue 13
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Access. Activism. Marginality. (In)visibility. Social justice. Key concepts in LGBTQ circles, whether explicitly or subtly voiced in an Indonesian metropolis or an American prison, Palestine, or San Francisco. In the newest issue of Los Angeles-based make/shift, a vital magazine that “embraces the multiple and shifting identities of feminist communities,” filmmakers, documentarians, project organizers, and others reveal lives marking daily realities through visual and performing arts as well as through grassroots actions. This insightful, cogent selection offers several contemporary perspectives on urgent issues, including: violence and murder among transgendered populations; racial profiling playing a role in the arrest of a teenager; lingering consequences of abuse; and, in a featured interview with Victoria Law, author of Resistance Behind Bars: The Struggles of Incarcerated Women, the problems these women face, such as limited resources for childcare and shackling during childbirth.
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  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual online
The Meadowland Review, not listing very much insight into the journal on their website, is a magazine whose aesthetic must be learned by exploring and reading the magazine for oneself. Notifying only the genres they list and that they accept established and emerging writers, The Meadowland Review leaves a lot to discover.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
In its first run, Middle Gray Magazine is providing a venue to display artists’ and writers’ works. The layout creates a collaboration between pieces and relies on the artwork to influence the mood of the entire journal. It succeeds in giving each artist his or her space with a longer bio and description of the work where appropriate. It’s a small collection of surprising and exciting work.
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  • Issue Number Volume 79 Number 2
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
To what extent do literature and journalism perform the same work? Editor Robert Stewart prefaces this issue of New Letters with a brief comment that considers the relationship between these separate fields that may not be so separate. Stewart quotes Philip Roth speaking in an installment of American Masters: “There’s a journalistic side to writing novels.” Stewart goes a step further, asserting that “we don’t hear the word journalism often enough in literary discussions . . .” Writers of fiction need “the facts to present the story; literary journalists and memoirists need the story to present the facts.”
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  • Issue Number Issue 34
  • Published Date Winter 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
This issue of Passages North transports readers in all directions to many destinations where memory is immediate and present and history is imminent and alive. The opening pages are home to the winners and honorably mentioned of the 2012 Fiction Prizes. The winning stories convey readers down corridors of metaphor and into realms of secrecy. Traci Brimhall’s story, “After the Flood the Captain of the Hamadryas Discovers a Madonna,” the winning entry of the short-short fiction category, is a poetic work of prose that clarifies with its ambiguity and wonderment. The opening paragraph immediately draws us in:
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  • Issue Number Volume 18 Number 2
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
In the opening sentences of Naira Kuzmich’s “The Kingsley Drive Chorus,” a group of women in an ethnically Armenian subsection of Los Angeles neighborhood find themselves collectively and consecutively isolated as if in parallel tombs in a glass mausoleum. The storyis told in the first-person plural to create a grammatical tense that conveys, through expertly crafted language, a community at once too-close and fissuring at the strain of immigration and assimilation. The story conveys a national heritage, with measured references to kyoftas and the city of origin, but the story is not limited to remembering; it is not a honeyed tribute to Armenian sociology or history or even the adaptation of these pursuits; rather, it is an almost Biblical story of violence and loss.
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  • Issue Number Volume 49 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Southern Review is published by Louisiana State University and has a long-standing literary tradition dating back to 1935. It seeks to find work that pays careful attention to craftsmanship and technique and to the seriousness of the subject matter. The most recent issue is indeed a finely crafted publication that starts strong and remains so throughout. This issue is packed with fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and the art of Patricia Spergel.
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  • Issue Number Volume 5 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triquarterly online
Unsplendid is an online journal that publishes poetry with form, but that form can be rather loose. With forms ranging from sonnets and sestinas to those that are made up for the sake of the poem, Unsplendid’s poems are sure to tackle language, using rhymes and repetition to further the ideas.
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  • Issue Number Volume 11
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
It could be said that all surrealists are alike, but all nihilists are unhappy in their own ways. Fortunately for readers of this journal, it is sometimes hard to separate the two philosophies, which leads to astonishing feats of dreams and poignant detail, a crash course in the world by an impressive new wave of international literati.
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  • Issue Number Issue 62
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Whiskey Island is the literary magazine of Cleveland State University, and, according to their website, the name comes from a neighboring peninsula that has gone through several metamorphoses over the years: “it has been a dump, a US Coast Guard Station, a ship graveyard, and a predominantly Irish immigrant shanty town.” This peninsula now shares the name with a magazine that is rich with strong fiction and poetry.
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