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Fourteen Hills – Winter/Spring 2005

“Ooh, mail art!” Such was my glee in flipping through Fourteen Hills, which is chock full of collages by collaborators Mike Dickau & Jon Held Jr., not to mention the inimitable Winston Smith. This issue of the journal is something of a collage itself, boasting a variety of talented writers from San Francisco and from around the world. Binyavanga Wainaina’s “Hell is in Bed with Mrs. Peprah” takes the reader to a beauty shop in Kenya in the late 70s, where a young girl sits among the hot combs and gossip and listens to the educated, eccentric, and undeniably strong “Auntie” Peprah defend herself against naysayers. “Ooh, mail art!” Such was my glee in flipping through Fourteen Hills, which is chock full of collages by collaborators Mike Dickau & Jon Held Jr., not to mention the inimitable Winston Smith. This issue of the journal is something of a collage itself, boasting a variety of talented writers from San Francisco and from around the world. Binyavanga Wainaina’s “Hell is in Bed with Mrs. Peprah” takes the reader to a beauty shop in Kenya in the late 70s, where a young girl sits among the hot combs and gossip and listens to the educated, eccentric, and undeniably strong “Auntie” Peprah defend herself against naysayers. “Newborn,” by Murzban F. Shrof, presents a father who feels as if he’s lost his identity upon the birth of his first child; though his actions in trying to regain some sense of his manhood are unconscionable, the story is sincere, unflinching, and very well done. I loved the imagery of Simone Muench’s “Hydrophobia”: “[…] Listen to the river’s hiss; metal swallows // clip the air. Hunters in bright orange vests / approach you as though you were a ghost deer.” Perhaps the most moving piece here is Paul Kaidy Barrows’s “Ou Est-ce Que Madame Bien Voudrait Aller?” in which a disfigured cabbie’s monologue takes a passenger – and the reader – through a ravaged land, confronting the sheltered with the hard realities of war. With these great works and many more, Fourteen Hills is a most remarkable journal. [http://www.14hills.net] – Jennifer Gomoll

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