Main Street Rag – Summer 2006
Volume 11 Number 2
Main Street Rag publishes simple, solid, conversational writing without gimmicks. The layout has rather cramped pages and fuzzy artwork, but this can be overlooked.
Main Street Rag publishes simple, solid, conversational writing without gimmicks. The layout has rather cramped pages and fuzzy artwork, but this can be overlooked. It opens with the Editor’s Select Poetry Series, featuring Mark Smith-Soto. Though his poems are not didactic, a marked political and social purpose often drags down what is otherwise decent work. Most of the other poems are stronger and more personal. The fiction is surprisingly good. A stand-out is “The Survivors” by Ed Southern, which involves a brief, uneventful conversation among three middle-class university students. Not the most dynamic recipe for literary greatness, perhaps, but the author brings a Carveresque subtlety, attention to detail, and interior depth. Southern consistently finds the right words and significant details to convey the proper tone for his story. The narrator describes the student body “in lighthearted tee shirts and khaki shorts” and his own post-adolescent confusion/envy/passion: “He had not been a camp counselor; he had not reached out to troubled kids. He had delivered truck parts for his dad. He and some other friends had almost signed up to work on a fishing boat in Alaska, but his dad had talked him out of it.” In a few ostensibly plain lines, we understand his desire to be like other people, the fact that he isn’t, his drive to explore and become engaged, his failure to do so.
Southern, and most of the contributors, who are primarily from the Midwest and South, particularly North Carolina, write artlessly and without self-consciousness. The fiction concentrates on story-telling and spot-on dialogue rather than bulimic minimalism, bloated postmodern antics, or tasteful writer’s workshop Gapification. The poetry, which leans toward medium-length litanies and narratives, shows a command of image and natural language without any stultifying academic taxidermy or careening beat jabberwocky.