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The Malahat Review – Summer 2010

This issue of one of the very best journals published in North America features the magazine’s novella prize-winner “Brains,” by Tony Tulathimutte, the work of 16 poets, an essay by Jessica Kluthe, and a number of smart book reviews.

This issue of one of the very best journals published in North America features the magazine’s novella prize-winner “Brains,” by Tony Tulathimutte, the work of 16 poets, an essay by Jessica Kluthe, and a number of smart book reviews.

The novella of approximately 40 pages is the beautifully related coming-of-age story of Diana Lipton, a quirky character rendered with credibility and sensitivity in prose that is deftly composed, and appealing, but never pedestrian. This is a fine example of the novella genre now, happily, gaining new popularity. This is satisfying, solid reading, plot driven with attention to language, rhythm, pace, timing, and a resolution that matters.

Poetry, as always in The Malahat Review, reflects an eclectic editorial stance, though consistency in quality is never an issue. Poems in this journal are always polished, accomplished, and mature. I was taken, in particular, with “Jetlag” by Steven Heighton:

It’s night in your bones though noon. A no one
room, drugged with sunlight of a skewed
latitude,
the fizz in capillaries behind the eyes’ red rind, un-

housed, stalling hydraulics of the heart…

And also with poems by Faisal Siddiqui, “Fakkeer,” and “Forgotten Qasida;” and “Night Driving,” by Rebecca Fredrickson. Andrew Wachtel’s translation from the Russian of “So Now the Soldiers Have Gone,” by Anzehelina Polonskaya is noteworthy, as well:

No blood and no violence, but you won’t lie, you can’t,
the soldiers stand and watch –
they never left.

Finally, I am impressed by Jessica Kluthe’s “Always.” There is so much writing about childhood in North American magazines these days and so much of it is less than memorable. Kluthe recreates a child I truly care about with a story that matters to me. It’s the story of domestic violence, the saving potential of language, and a childish connection to the divine as reconceived through an adult perspective. It’s material that could lead to hyperbole or sentimentality. But, Kluthe is gifted and her piece is restrained and yet incredibly moving. This is the kind of work I have to come to rely on, expect from, and feel grateful for in The Malahat Review.
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