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The MacGuffin – Spring/Summer 2013

The MacGuffin, published by Schoolcraft College, is a treasure-trove of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, especially short fiction. The style is fairly traditional, which makes it easy to read and digest, but never dull. There is so much good prose that it is worth reading for that alone. It does not separate fiction from nonfiction, and I find it difficult to identify for certain mostly which is which—once on the page, what is the difference between fiction and nonfiction? Is there such a thing as nonfiction when it is words on a page? Which is stranger, or harder to believe, or comes across as more meaningful, or contrived?

The MacGuffin, published by Schoolcraft College, is a treasure-trove of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, especially short fiction. The style is fairly traditional, which makes it easy to read and digest, but never dull. There is so much good prose that it is worth reading for that alone. It does not separate fiction from nonfiction, and I find it difficult to identify for certain mostly which is which—once on the page, what is the difference between fiction and nonfiction? Is there such a thing as nonfiction when it is words on a page? Which is stranger, or harder to believe, or comes across as more meaningful, or contrived?

These particular compositions are rendered with irony, tenderness, guilt, self-reproach, dignity—the spices one looks for in the genre. The pieces are hand-picked from high-quality authors from around the country and are fairly traditional modern, crackling with life. The poetry, which is neither fiction nor nonfiction, because it speaks directly to the heart, has some gems, including the poem “Kilkenny” by Deirdre Callanan—a very musical poem, with romance and a story: “Let the field resurrect a courtship framed by walking, where he sang / On the banks of the Suir that flows by Mooncoin.” It is rare that a poem pays attention to the sounds of words as closely as this one does, and so successfully. Another poem, “Lighter Than Air,” by Jim Daniels begins:

A child sighs in sleep
and I lose a thought.
My child.
My thought.

Daniels ties his child’s dreams to his and manages to bring the reader along with him, dexterously.

In the prose realm, Trudy Carpenter’s “The Big Event” stands out. It flatly begins, “Everyone we know will be there.” Some ordinary friends, both divorced, discussing what to wear, turn out to be part of a very not-so-ordinary event—and the surprise ending has never come off so well.

“The Beast Tamer,” by Nathalie van Walsum is a frightfully fanciful yarn about two women who meet. One is a young wife, not so happy; the other is a confident single who purports to give some advice to the poor wife. It isn’t your average feminist story, but it has some funny and delicious aspects that might infuriate some and very much delight others, as it goes “over the top.” This yarn has a twist and is one of many imaginative, astonishing pieces in this magazine.

“Chimps and Their Keeper” by Shara Sinor tells the story of a young semi-privileged volunteer working at the Uganda Wildlife Education Center, who learned humanity working with a poor keeper of chimpanzees who had less food to eat than the primates he fed, but he didn’t complain.

In a unique story, or recollection, titled “A Favor Repaid,” by Richard Alwan, a man benefited from what he felt was an unfair act of the armed services that allowed him to continue serving when other deserving servicemen were being cut. Many years later, this man risks his own career when he has a chance to save another man’s. True or not, signed by a real person, The MacGuffin does not reveal.

I felt happier and richer for having read this collection of works, a sense of satisfaction that I haven’t felt in a while, and sense that there are other spirits out there searching for truths, meaning, humanity and wonderment.
[www.schoolcraft.edu/macguffin]

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