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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted November 15, 2013

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  • Issue Number Volume 4 Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This issue of the Asian American Literary Review is packed with ambition. While many literary journals experiment with the elements and the appearance of language, this issue of AALR crosses the physical conventions of the idea of the literary journal. The contents, like the challenges to the physical form, provoke questions and emphasize ambiguities rather than entertain, which is perhaps fitting when the issue centers on “mixed race,” a sometimes questionable and often ambiguous term laden with history, exultation, and pain.
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  • Issue Number Issue 32
  • Published Date October 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Starting off this issue of poetry magazine Chantarelle’s Notebook is a poem that easily reveals its insight, a trait found throughout the issue. LaMar Giles’s “Uninspired” pokes fun at current popular music, noting that “a sudden breeze / moves me more / than music nowadays.” It’s short, fun, and makes its point clear.
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  • Issue Number Issue 184
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The hallmark virtues of this issue of Cimarron Review are polished works that are immediately accessible yet amply reward closer inspection.
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  • Issue Number Issue 10
  • Published Date April 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual online
foam:e, an Australian online poetry annual, is now in its tenth year. Because of its origin, I am lost on some of the details, references, and government issues, but overall, the issue was an enjoyable array of poetry, varying in topic, form, and tone.
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  • Issue Number Issue 51
  • Published Date September/October 2013
  • Publication Cycle Bimonthly online
Executive Editor Ben Evans writes that he hopes readers will find, in Fogged Clarity, “something resonant here, something stirring and poignant . . .” The sole fiction piece, Benjamin Roesch’s “If You’re Listening to This,” resonates with me. It is a heartfelt look into Luke’s lifelong struggle to remember his father and feel his father’s love for him. Now married to Jasper, Luke donates his sperm to his ex-wife, who is also gay and wants to have a baby in France with her wife. What seemed at first a brainless act, becoming a biological father turns out to be a bigger deal for Luke than he would have guessed. Eager to tell his new daughter that he loves her and will always be there in the way his own father couldn’t, Luke runs into conflict when her mothers tell him that they don’t plan to tell their daughter who the donor is. It’s definitely a standout piece, right from the very beginning, which is definitely an attention getter: “Luke found himself in a small room with no windows. There was porn of all persuasions. There were tissues and baby wipes. There was Jergens almond scented lotion.”
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  • Issue Number Volume 26 Number 3
  • Published Date Autumn 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Gettysburg Review deserves its reputation for excellence and consistency. Editor Peter Stitt and his colleagues have put together another issue packed with work that examines the human condition from a number of geographical and emotional perspectives.
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  • Issue Number Volume 11 Number 2
  • Published Date July/August 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
I’ve eyed Grasslimb for a couple issues now, drawn by its simple, clean tabloid-style design. Each issue has had only two sheets, center folded, for eight, 11x14 pages of reading. I like this ‘local newspaper’ style, and the heavyweight paper adds to the reading pleasure. Easy enough to hide behind on a bus ride, solid enough to stand up through bumps and turns.
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  • Issue Number Volume 26
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
This edition of Green Mountains Review draws us to its content as soon as we see the cover. The artwork is a compelling collage done by the featured and multi-talented artist, Lou Beach. As with Beach’s work, this issue is a collage of multiple works by or about the same authors, but what you notice is the collective quality of them all, that as a whole provides more than just surface entertainment.
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  • Issue Number Volume 35 Number 1
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Indiana Review is not a nicey-nicey publication. A fair amount of the content, while high quality, exhibits an “edgy” quality, as in it won’t-put-one-to-sleep, or make one sigh. It won’t give warm-fuzzies, or make one feel like cuddling up in a big chair with hot chocolate. What it will do is remind one of the hazards of existence and the unsettling realities of life in a vivid and entertaining manner.
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  • Issue Number Volume 29 Number 3
  • Published Date Spring-Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
The MacGuffin, published by Schoolcraft College, is a treasure-trove of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, especially short fiction. The style is fairly traditional, which makes it easy to read and digest, but never dull. There is so much good prose that it is worth reading for that alone. It does not separate fiction from nonfiction, and I find it difficult to identify for certain mostly which is which—once on the page, what is the difference between fiction and nonfiction? Is there such a thing as nonfiction when it is words on a page? Which is stranger, or harder to believe, or comes across as more meaningful, or contrived?
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  • Issue Number Volume 18 Number 3
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The Main Street Rag is published quarterly out of Charlotte, North Carolina. This issue opens with an interview with photographer Bryce Lankard, whose photos grace the cover and are included within the pages of text. The interview is a contemplative discussion of art and its purposes from Lankard’s point of view. His photos after Hurricane Katrina serve two purposes, “one to address the public debate and a second to address the loss.” He goes on to say that he “wanted to show New Orleans as flawed yet beautiful” and “remind people of the city’s cultural uniqueness and how rich it had been in providing the fabric of America—so the rest of the country would not abandon New Orleans.” His NOLA photographs accomplish these objectives. His 9/11 photographs reveal where the photographer was when the planes hit the towers and show life moving at an accustomed pace even in those moments. Lynda C. Ward’s interview illustrates Lankard’s passion and approach to the world.
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  • Issue Number Volume 2
  • Published Date October 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
It could be said that The Masters Review presents the same value proposition as do The Best New American Voices, The New Yorker’s “20 under 40” fiction showcase, and Poets & Writers listings of leading new poets. That value proposition is the culling of new talent from diverse sources, a way of framing a structure of gifted writers today under the strong light microscope of editorial review.
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  • Issue Number Issue 35
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Neon hails from the UK where Editor Krishan Coupland accepts works from around the globe. Neon favors literary and slipstream short-form writing: “We err towards the dark, and like to experiment with language and form” with “a particular taste for the apocalyptic.” Dark and apocalyptic has never been my style, so it makes me wonder how I found such comfort in much of what I read here.
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  • Issue Number Number 7
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Plain, and rooted in the plains: that’s what remained with me after I finished reading Paddlefish, the annual literary journal from Mount Marty College in Yankton, South Dakota. A photograph of a boundless golden field and blue skies spreads over the front and back covers; the book reviews visit the Nebraska landscape and snippets in South Dakotan history; the stories and poems touch on post-military and Native American life. Paddlefish is plain, too, in its subjects, sentiments, and language. The reader is often told exactly what the writer is thinking, a mode that may appeal to some but which, to others, may leave too little to the imagination.
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  • Issue Number Volume 39 Numbers 2 & 3
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Travis Holland’s “Planet of Fear” is one of a number of brilliant stories in this all-fiction issue of Ploughshares, edited by Peter Ho Davies. Holland writes beautifully. Three strands make a rich, bright braid: the narrator’s work with an exceptional youth in a boys’ correction facility, his frustration with his dementia-disabled father, and his love for his smart but innocent five-year-old daughter. Scenes slide seamlessly from one of these strands to another, the tension level rising slowly, steadily, as the client is bullied, the father drifts further and further from his original professorial authority, and the daughter grows into her own. Each episode is wonderfully drawn. Of a “nature walk” through an unfinished housing development with the daughter, Holland writes:
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  • Issue Number Volume 87 Number 3
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
The cover of this issue of Prairie Schooner greets the reader with an impressionist autumn scene painted by Faridun Zoda. The inviting image is appropriate; the editors have chosen work that compels the reader to take a step back and enjoy a moment of quiet contemplation.
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  • Issue Number Issue 1
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Psychopomp Magazine, a new online fiction quarterly, aims to publish work that “defies genre and isn’t afraid to go beyond the confines of traditional form.” Their first issue is a testament to that.
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  • Issue Number Number 50
  • Published Date Summer 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Brian Nellist’s essay “People Don’t Read Scott Any More,” originally published in the Spring 1997 issue of The Reader, may have summed up a movement with an essential added value of literature: “the answer is experto crede, not ‘Trust the professional’, heaven forbid, but ‘have faith in the man who’s tried it.’” The idea represents a logical extension of trust in precedent—that we can look to literature as a forerunner to lives we haven’t lived and perhaps never will. We are all witnesses, but in a limited sense. Reading is the addenda to our lives. He adds at the end of the excerpt something else of vital importance to the enterprise of reading:
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  • Issue Number Issue 3
  • Published Date Fiction Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly online
Reviewing Sixfold is an entirely different game due to the way submissions are selected. Instead of being voted on by a judge or editors of the magazine, submissions are voted on by other writers that submit, working their way up the ranks until the top 3 are selected for prizes and others are selected for inclusion into the issue.
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  • Issue Number Volume 3
  • Published Date 2013
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Because theNewerYork is a different breed of literary magazine entirely (“We are changing the publishing world,” the website states), it’s only fitting to go with an unconventional review, in this case, “An Imagined Instructional Editorial List (in Review)”:
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  • Issue Number Number 72
  • Published Date Fall 2013
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Willow Springs is a long-standing literary magazine, publishing works by well-known and up-and-coming writers alike for the past 30 years. The first thing that struck me when I began reading it was that there was not a specific theme noted anywhere or an editor’s note. While the magazine’s goal is to “engage its audience in an ongoing discussion of art, ideas, and what it means to be human,” this is a very general goal that can go in a number of directions. While it isn’t necessary to have a theme, the individual pieces themselves work together in a way to create themes in the reader’s mind; the one that stood out to me was of the things inside us—the hidden talents we aren’t aware of; the twisted desires we will never admit; the work of art we haven’t unlocked.
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