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The Literary Review – Fall 2009

This issue is themed “The Therapy Issue” with a disclaimer that they “promise it won’t cure you.” Instead, this compilation of poems, short stories, and an essay offers multiple views into the human psyche.

This issue is themed “The Therapy Issue” with a disclaimer that they “promise it won’t cure you.” Instead, this compilation of poems, short stories, and an essay offers multiple views into the human psyche.

The theme of the issue starts its thread on the cover where a man stands in a bleak forest, head against a tree, alone and misunderstood. Continuing a sense of alienation, the writers of poetry in the journal struggle to find themselves. In the poem “Art Therapy,” Bruce Cohen explores the idea of understanding himself in relation to the world around him, saying, “It seems I have a password for everything but my own mind,” and then later to end the poem, “It is not now approaching at all the end / of the world when we can assume anyone’s identity we like.” The rest of the issue continues to examine the possibilities found in identity.

Both the fiction and the personal essay give additional insight into this search for self. The personal essay is an exploration of Rand B. Lee’s first experience with a psychiatrist as a child. This visit came as a result of Lee watching his parents going to a psychiatrist and then deciding that he himself needed to go. As an adult reflecting on that, Lee realizes that, as the doctor and his parents tried to figure out his problem, he was forced out of the innocence of his childhood before he was ready to leave it. He ended up more confused than he was before, a confusion that carried over into his adult life.

Likewise, in the fiction piece “The Marriage of the Strawman and the Patchwork Girl,” the author Chris Gavaler creates a character who doesn’t quite understand himself or the world around him. As a result, Jack, a scarecrow with a pumpkin for his head, refuses to face the world or understand anything different from what he knows. Instead he buries his old pumpkins that contain memories and thoughts. He buries them where he knows they will be safe.

While aiming to explore therapy and its connection with art, this issue of TLR provides a wide range of conditions and experiences for its readers, all the while holding true to its promise. In the end, you won’t feel cured.
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