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Quarterly West – Fall/Winter 2003/2004

A bizarre admission: I write and, much more often than not, read fiction and poetry, and Quarterly West, seemingly without intent, has made a nonfiction convert out of me. It’s not that I am not enthralled by the two novellas from the biennial contest within this issue (and pity Kevin McIlvoy for having to choose between these two, let alone however many countless others).

A bizarre admission: I write and, much more often than not, read fiction and poetry, and Quarterly West, seemingly without intent, has made a nonfiction convert out of me. It’s not that I am not enthralled by the two novellas from the biennial contest within this issue (and pity Kevin McIlvoy for having to choose between these two, let alone however many countless others). It’s nothing about not enjoying, with that sort of creeping case of the willies that sometimes happens, Dan O’Brien’s story. G.C. Waldrep, as ever, does it for me, and Kate Gale’s “Demanding Barbados” is luxurious. But Ander Monson’s “I Have Been Thinking About Snow” and Sarah Madsen’s “Movement: a photographer’s alphabet” are both beguilingly great. Structurally they’re dissimilar, from each other and from nonfiction in general: Monson uses periods to space sentences, fragments, words, weather reports out from each other; Madsen has each page be an entry for a word (aperture, heat, wretched), and for each entry there is a listing of the image, the technique, and the caption. Both works are mesmeric, lingering – like those conversations we carry with us and recall over and over. 

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