Volume 80 Number 4
Sheheryar B. Sheikh
Prairie Schooner is one of the few journals with impeccable credentials, having disappointed few writers and readers. This issue is no exception. Prairie Schooner is one of the few journals with impeccable credentials, having disappointed few writers and readers. This issue is no exception. All the pieces are so good, one almost wishes there were a droll article or story just for backdrop purposes. Cheap sex might do the trick. Then comes along Marilyn Kallet’s coupletted “You Weren’t There,” which begins: “Charlie adored me. / He made me sexy. // Screwed my brains out. / No one saw.” No, this is good. How about morbid sexual coming-of-age non-fiction? Check. Meredith Hall’s excruciatingly parched essay about her family’s rejection of her teen pregnancy, and of Meredith herself, whittled my jadedness. “He [her father] looks at my mother again. ‘Now what?’ / My mother looks at me coldly. ‘Well, she can’t stay here.’” And from that midpoint the narrative sizzles louder still. A moth-hunting “Bad Buddhist,” Roy Jacobstein’s poem, doesn’t let the issue slide from its nirvana height either. Enid Shomer, in her poem, “Pausing on a Hillside in Anatolia,” invokes Shelley from seemingly nowhere, but lands on her feet with the line, “Well I have lived in a punishing wind.” There is a near-precious Hallmark moment in Daniel Donaghy’s “Abigail’s Birthday Party,” but he saves even an altruistic last line from that pitfall by setting it up outdoors: “her car is glowing like a fire / because the sun is going down / and the roads she’ll take / without us are almost in view.” Seriously not least is Susan Scheid’s “The Cancer Patient’s Book of Grammar,” an essay that crafts a narrative through subheadings like “Use of the Paragraph” and “Avoid Adverbs.” Plenty to discover in this narrative even for word-scientists like myself. Reviews include those of Marge Piercy’s sixteenth novel, Sex Wars: A Novel of the Turbulent Post-Civil War Period. Methinks Prairie Schooner’s getting feisty.