It’s to the credit of the editorial staff at The Cincinnati Review that the winter 2007 issue cannot be easily classified. The range of voices is as wide as the experience of the contributors.
It’s to the credit of the editorial staff at The Cincinnati Review that the winter 2007 issue cannot be easily classified. The range of voices is as wide as the experience of the contributors. Poetry dominates the issue, and the best of it, like Claudia Emerson’s selections from Girls’ School, has the narrative sweep of prose evoked by the tight, singular resonance of each word of verse. From “Housemother”: “This life began as mere employment, something / that would pass; she had private joys then, / reasons to close her door. This is how she breathes / now, moving sharklike through the halls’ courses.” Girlhood is eviscerated in my favorite story in the issue, “The Payoff.” Best friends conspire to blackmail their principal, who was caught with his pants down with the art teacher. Susan Perabo captures the language and mindset of tweens, as wilier Louise convinces the narrator how the blackmail will work: “‘Plus his wife would divorce him and his kids would hate him and he’d lose all his friends. And everywhere he went, people would make sucking sounds.’” Stunning oil paintings by John Fraser juxtapose the indoor and outdoor, mock and somehow celebrate living spaces. In an odd but compelling essay, Ander Monson returns to the privileged boarding school he was kicked out of twelve years past to ruminate on connectivity. For the sake of objectivity, The Cincinnati Review publishes several book reviews on the same book. This issue features Colson Whitehead’s Apex Hides the Hurt. Jane Springer, Tyrone Williams, Gary Leising and other poets add some strikingly distinctive pieces, along with Wendy Rawlings’ story of a middle-aged woman’s physical rebirth, to the chagrin of her poor parents. The only way to know The Cincinnati Review is to read it.