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Washington Square – 2003

Though this is the summer issue of Washington Square, its fiction and poetry is pervaded by cool autumnal temperatures. The six artful stories here, while engaging the reader in the indefinable dramas of urban singles or the troubled lives of the patrons in an Amsterdam pub, tend to maintain an impassivity that is eerily uniform. For the most part, these characters seem to have mastered an air of indifference toward their world.

Though this is the summer issue of Washington Square, its fiction and poetry is pervaded by cool autumnal temperatures. The six artful stories here, while engaging the reader in the indefinable dramas of urban singles or the troubled lives of the patrons in an Amsterdam pub, tend to maintain an impassivity that is eerily uniform. For the most part, these characters seem to have mastered an air of indifference toward their world. Whether it’s a frosty patrician heiress, as in Gloria Lin’s “Native Life,” or a self-destructive ex-pat tippler as in Michele Mortimer’s “At Empty Glass,” the draftiness invoked by each narrative creates an effect that is cumulatively disturbing, for in every case the reader senses a palpable underlying truth: that these folks have never fully succeeded in self-delusion and are living lonely lives, haunted by the specter of futility. The chill first sets in with Liana Scalettar’s story “The Dead Sea,” where the author so well evokes the cool porcelain of her character’s bath that the reader’s feet begin tingling. Scalettar’s closing lines leave a feeling of hollow transcendence that is brilliantly apt, and suggestive of the overall flavor of this issue: “Expecting to be immersed, warm, blind, you find yourself above and shivering, and confronted with a cool panorama of once invisible things.” [Washington Square, Creative Writing Program, NY University, 19 University Place, Room 219, New York, NY, 10003-4556. E-mail: [email protected] Single issue $6.00. [www.washingtonsquarereview.com/] – MC

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