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Grain – Spring 2005

“If” is the theme here, and Kent Bruyneel’s poem “Struggles and gives. Breaks.” kicks things off well: “Then the strange and / proud echo of her turning around. Interrupted. By the voice / wondering aloud when she is coming back and if.” The collected pieces are nicely unified – no loose theme is this – and ambivalence of course weighs heavily, especially in Ken Howe’s amusing mock-epic poem “Jerry’s Barbershop, an Investigation,” in which the persona freaks out over a bad haircut: “I beheld / the same geek who’d take the chair some minutes earlier, OK but / with shorter hair.” “If” is the theme here, and Kent Bruyneel’s poem “Struggles and gives. Breaks.” kicks things off well: “Then the strange and / proud echo of her turning around. Interrupted. By the voice / wondering aloud when she is coming back and if.” The collected pieces are nicely unified – no loose theme is this – and ambivalence of course weighs heavily, especially in Ken Howe’s amusing mock-epic poem “Jerry’s Barbershop, an Investigation,” in which the persona freaks out over a bad haircut: “I beheld / the same geek who’d take the chair some minutes earlier, OK but / with shorter hair.” While some pieces succumb to simple romanticizing (one poem, for example, pines for the lost dead), credit goes to the editors for publishing a masterful short story. Matthew Rader’s “The Lonesome Death of Joseph Fey” is a beautiful array of vignettes that takes its readers through two brothers’ reactions to the ambiguous death of their other brother. The piece is structurally perfect, thematically ambitious (“Faith, let it be said, is a sixth sense, and like our eyes and ears, easily tricked”), and the language is beautiful; rare to find so unique a piece of fiction, rarer still to find one so well-crafted, simple, and profound. Go read this story! [www.grainmagazine.ca] – Sean Bernard

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