The thing I immediately noticed about SNReview is its online format—clean and crisp. It doesn’t attempt to use a lot of graphics or design, which is actually really working for it: black type, in an easy-to-read font, on top of a white page. Alternately, each piece can be viewed as a PDF with active links to previous issues and the website. Beyond the format, this particular issue’s fiction, nonfiction, and poetry delivers so that the graphics don’t have to.
I’d advise not trying to tackle the entire issue in one setting. The fiction pieces will take a while to read, but they are worth it, making it an issue to continue to come back to. Brian Conlon’s “Our Hero Was Not Crazy” craftily tells the story of a character who wants so badly to date a girl from the bakery that he ends up cutting his hands off.
It stung when he first broke the skin, and the sight of the first drop of blood made him shiver. However, he was determined to get rid of that beastly hair that made him look like a caveman, a Neanderthal, someone not deserving of her love. So he sawed away vehemently, the knife beginning to cut through the bone, slowly but steadily as the blood gushed forth and stained his gray suit crimson.
Justine Casagrande tells a coming of age story titled “The Day Barbara Stanwyck Lost Her Power over Me” in which a girl has had enough of her mother’s overbearing control and decides to finally put her foot down. “I’m leading my own life now,” she says.
In comparison to these longer pieces, Jodi Adamson packs the punch in three short poems. “The Yellow Sunflower” creates a turn of emotion in the reader with only sixteen words. Paula Bonnell also gives us three short poems, my favorite being “60th Anniversary” in which two walkers, “these contraptions / now assist / their kiss.” And I loved Sandra Kolankiewicz’s “If You Had Known Me”:
So, now when you
see me, I wonder if you too have ceased to be
what you weren’t and have become what you
are: stretched between your would-have-been
and is: tugged by gravity in some most
unsuspected places, like surety; slowly
becoming a whole other person trying to
recognize yourself, like the sudden noticing of
wrinkles on your ear lobes. Are you too left
with just a magnifying glass to view the big
picture of your life should you want to do it
with your eyes open? Close them, and what
do you have? Is it like a dream? . . .
This of course only touches on a few glimpses of the great work in this issue, so make sure to set aside a time to come back and give each piece the attention they so willingly deserve.