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The Briar Cliff Review – Volume 16

Defying the trade paperback design standard to most literary journals, The Briar Cliff Review is a magazine-size book with thick, glossy paper and an evocative array of crystal-clear full-color artwork scattered throughout. To peruse this journal is an enjoyable sensory experience, and I found myself savoring the pure pleasure induced by the design as much as I savored the contents, which are substantial: 28 poems, 6 stories, 3 nonfiction pieces grouped under the unique heading “Reflective”, 4 articles or exhibits dealing with the “Siouxland” surrounding Briar Cliff’s Sioux City origins, and 3 book reviews. The short stories here are highly literary, somewhat ponderously paced, and ultimately very winning in their shared reluctance to undercut the human mysteries they present.

Defying the trade paperback design standard to most literary journals, The Briar Cliff Review is a magazine-size book with thick, glossy paper and an evocative array of crystal-clear full-color artwork scattered throughout. To peruse this journal is an enjoyable sensory experience, and I found myself savoring the pure pleasure induced by the design as much as I savored the contents, which are substantial: 28 poems, 6 stories, 3 nonfiction pieces grouped under the unique heading “Reflective”, 4 articles or exhibits dealing with the “Siouxland” surrounding Briar Cliff’s Sioux City origins, and 3 book reviews. The short stories here are highly literary, somewhat ponderously paced, and ultimately very winning in their shared reluctance to undercut the human mysteries they present. Andrew Schultz’s O’Henry-like story “My Barber, My Wife” somberly explores the multi-faceted nature of fidelity through the life of Guy, a man of routine who one afternoon is lured away from his regular barber appointment by a dancing hairstylist in a nearby shop. Guy’s subsequent romance and marriage to this woman is conveyed in lush and delicately vivid prose and serves as an unlikely but effective motif in exploring a very unlikely but ineffably true conflict. Some of the poetry here is breathtaking, such as a piece entitled “The Magician” by David Allan Evans. Also lovely is the photo essay, “Dakota Hospital for the Insane” by Michael Northrup, a haunting black-and-white journey through the empty spaces of a deteriorating institution. The Briar Cliff Review will reward readers on many levels. [The Briar Cliff Review, Briar Cliff University, 3303 Rebecca St, P.O. Box 2100, Sioux City, IA, 51104. E-mail: [email protected] Single issue $12. www.briarcliff.edu/bcreview] – MC

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