Sheheryar Badar Sheikh
For a literary journal that is “informed by – or grapples with – religious faith,” Image is really “with it”. Editor Gregory Wolfe’s introductory essay “East and West in Miniature” is a discourse on Pope Benedict XVI’s recent controversial lecture, and meditates on the issue of Islamic extremism in the light of some mystic concepts.
For a literary journal that is “informed by – or grapples with – religious faith,” Image is really “with it”. Editor Gregory Wolfe’s introductory essay “East and West in Miniature” is a discourse on Pope Benedict XVI’s recent controversial lecture, and meditates on the issue of Islamic extremism in the light of some mystic concepts. It also includes an extended illumination of Orhan Pamuk’s treatment of miniature painters in his prizewinning novel, My Name is Red. Such a tremendous essay is just the surface of the issue. The first fiction piece, “A Freak of Nature” by my own thesis adviser, Valerie Sayers, invokes the fifties and their special sets of paranoia and family medical crises. Sayers is capable of making me wring my hands with a twist of language, such as this one: “My father says you call them carnies, and don’t get too close. Don’t peek inside. It would break your heart.” Following Betsy Sholl’s poem “Gravity and Grace” is Janet Peery’s novel excerpt“ Garden of the Gods,” making me wonder if the editor is playing alliteration games. A major highlight is Brenton Good’s photo feature of Wolfgang Laib’s installation artwork, which includes tiny mounds of pollen and a large white marble slab layered with a thin film of milk. Good says Laib is an “iconoclast . . . first of all, he is slow. Deliberately slow. He regularly spends entire summers in the fields near his home in the Black Forest filling small jars with pollen…within the fast-paced, achievement-minded art world, his methods seem more than a little eccentric, and to the modern view of time, they are almost perversely meticulous.” The result of this meditation is a resplendence in the glowing yellow pollen mounds that Laib finally creates. Farrel O’Gorman’s “Recollecting Satan” is a short fiction of epic proportions. It begins, “I met the man we chose to call Satan in Myrtle Beach in the spring of 1986 . . .” In an interview with Scott Russell Sanders, Image manages to draw into the discussion the “emotional and ethical” rather than “scientific” question of the sense of loss. This leads nicely into Mary Kenagy’s essay, “The Yoke of Sympathy: The Fiction Writer and Her Characters,” something no writer can read without knowing that truth is typed here. Especially of interest is Kenagy’s comparison of Chekov’s methods with those of Faulkner’s in creating characters. Always important to Image is to end with a piece that brings the focus back to faith, and this is exactly what Lindsey Crittenden’s “The Burden of Bliss” does, with the near-end line “Prayer worked when I told the truth.”