Posted 11 June 2012
Just from the cover, the graphics, and the presentation of the magazine—easy to read online and compatible with phones and tablets—I was impressed with this gem. The first story, Andrew Borkowski’s “Legomaniac,” drew me right in as a great nonfiction piece with a very interesting character, an old woman who is insistent on winning over the love of his daughter. I also really loved Nadia Ragbar’s “The Fair,” in which she denies her attraction to Rusty, a boy who gives her a gift of a small Chief figurine: “I left to buy a Coke, my left hand fiddling with the change in my left jeans pocket, the figurine jammed in the middle of my palm with the plastic headdress making a crown of points in the meat of me. My heart beating around it, in my right jeans pocket.”
And the issue goes on with more fantastic and entertaining pieces as a woman stays with a man just so she can see the puppies his dog will have (Julie McArthur’s “The Promise of Puppies”), two men discuss what it means to have “sex into a mirror” (Dan Christensen’s “Badass”), and a young girl stresses over what it will be like to have sex with her boyfriend named Jesus (Meredith Hambrock’s “Third Base”): “she doesn’t really know how to have sex with Jesus. What he expects. There should be fasting, twelve stations of the foreplay, a last supper for her virginity.” There is even a ten page comical survey for taste testing mousse that shows the ridiculousness of the survey by asking questions not only about mousse but about every facet of the personal life. Because this issue is packed with so much great work, I can’t wait to see what stories the next issue brings.
Volume 2 Issue 2
Spittoon magazine says, “To us, the form is as important as the content, and both form and content should work together to develop the intended effect,” and I think the pieces in this issue certainly hold true to that. When I was reading, I noticed a lot of different forms—something I always find endearing. The issue starts with a dialogue, “Phaedrus 2” by Stephen J. West, and continues through with forms such as Nathaniel Tower’s “Suicide Prevention Survey,” which asks nine questions about a person’s risk for suicide, and a detailed description of “Infant Intermittent Explosive Disorder” by Joseph Celizic. I was most taken with Lisa Luton’s nonfiction piece “Almost Places” in which she includes a collection of small sections portraying her relationship with an unnamed man, a man who seems to dismiss her and not pay attention to her as much as she would like. The writing is casual and conversational as it is directed toward this character, but there are brilliant lines throughout as well such as, “We thought we snuck in the wide open doors of the theatre in the middle of a practice, but sneaking is hard to do when the doors are wide open” and “I dreamt of your name last night, stuck between the empty lines of a poem where no words would fit.” Only at its fourth issue, this magazine is well on its way to something great that will continue to publish solid and interesting work.
Straight Forward is a newer mag that includes both poetry and photography. While I wasn’t impressed with most of the photography—but that’s really a matter of opinion because I know nothing about the art—several of the poems stuck with me. I enjoyed the first poem of the issue, “On Jeans Vs. Skirts” by Meg Eden, for the interesting concept it provided about how women are now expected to wear tight jeans and leggings instead of skirts and about how much more freeing skirts are. I was easily entertained by David M. Harris’s skeptical view of Disney in “The Great Mouse” in which he ends the poem, “Mickey looms, exaggerated, / over my daughter. / She is terrified. / Unsurprised, I try to comfort / us both.” And Changming Yuan ends her poem “Phonism” with two excellent lines: “Are you listening to what you have heard / Or can you hear what you are listening to?” Although there weren’t any in this issue, the magazine also publishes “guest blog entries and academic essays about poetry.”
Volume 7 Issue 1
This Spring 2012 issue of Blood Orange Review is all about collections: collections of stories, of locks and keys, of facts, and even of elephants. What some of these stories also have are stellar first lines. Brently Johnson’s nonfiction piece “The Raisin Invasion” starts out with, “When my sister got kicked out of the house for good, my mother filled her bedroom with raisins.” With a line like that, I couldn’t help but click the “more” button to read on—and I’m glad I did. It is compelling and honest throughout. Stephanie Friedman’s “I Want the Copy that Dreams” starts off with, “Jean felt nettled for no reason she could name, a pricking just beneath her skin.” With just a few short stories, this magazine can be read over a lunch break or after work to unwind—it’s just the right size.