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TriQuarterly – 2006

For TriQuarterly, one of Chicago’s many estimable literary venues, their 125th issue is surprisingly erratic. It allows Moria Crone’s flat, turgid “The Ice Garden” to consume nearly 30 pages, and David Kirby’s initial travelogue/essay to proffer descriptions of how we consider sex: “The question is a loaded one, and the gun that fires it is double-barreled, for nothing is more wonderful than sex and nothing more tawdry, nothing more elevating yet nothing more degrading.”

For TriQuarterly, one of Chicago’s many estimable literary venues, their 125th issue is surprisingly erratic. It allows Moria Crone’s flat, turgid “The Ice Garden” to consume nearly 30 pages, and David Kirby’s initial travelogue/essay to proffer descriptions of how we consider sex: “The question is a loaded one, and the gun that fires it is double-barreled, for nothing is more wonderful than sex and nothing more tawdry, nothing more elevating yet nothing more degrading.”

Thankfully, the journal contains a few far more invigorating efforts, chiefly among them Bryan Booker’s “Train Delayed Due to Horrible, Horrible Accident,” a tale of a mind unraveling during a nighttime train ride. Told in a consistently middlebrow voice and peppered with curious characters whose attempt at etiquette increasingly feels like a joke, the story’s internal consistency not only gains the Aristotelian nod but, furthermore, takes pains not to forget the reader’s interest (something increasingly uncommon of writing produced by academics). Unsurprisingly, we read in the biographical note that a collection by Booker had been a finalist for the 2005 Iowa Short Fiction Award.

More common among TriQuarterly contributors is the cultivation of a single linguistic tension, often furnished by some ethnic stereotype. Best of these is Kathleen de Azevedo’s “Together We Are Lost,” whose Hispanic heroine crackles vibrantly if predictably, and James D. Redwood’s “The Stamp Collector,” in which a Vietnamese store clerk watching news broadcasts of Iraq is questioned about his heritage. [www.triquarterly.org]

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