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CutBank - 2014

  • Image: Image
  • Issue Number: Number 81
  • Published Date: 2014
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual
CutBank is a biannual literary journal run by the English department at the University of Montana. The journal is in its 40th year of publication and prides itself in publishing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and art from both established and up-and-coming writers and artists. CutBank proclaims they are “global in scope, but with a regional bias” that allows people joy by helping them to “discover and develop a fondness for the new work” that it features. In this issue of CutBank, there is page after page of phenomenal writing that your heart will grow fond to love.

In the nonfiction piece “Annihilation Tango,” Katya Kulik explores what hatred does to people, how it takes power away from them, and how it fills their insides like a cancer—and ultimately, how to let that hatred go. This story is not only interesting from start to finish, but it is expertly paced in a way that demands the reader go wherever Kulik chooses. The piece begins, “I have hated her for twelve years. I have hated her like I have never hated anyone else in my life. I have never hated anyone else in my life.”

For the first few pages, Kulik unfolds the story of not only hate of another, but also of self-loathing because she was not as good as the “other.” As the story draws to a close, Kulik gets the opportunity to tango with her sworn enemy: “I saw myself on the dancing floor, hugging tight my enemy of twelve years, and I started to freak out . . . She was the follower. I was the leader.” As the reader follows Kulik through these intense moments, one can only assume it will end badly. However, Kulik triumphs over her enemy; she gains control of her life again and is no longer consumed with rage: “As I walked to the metro, I suddenly felt very empty. It was very cool to feel that.”

“The Patron Saint of Infants” by Sierra Bellows is fiction that flawlessly weaves back and forth between a first and third person narrative in order to tell the stories of the speaker, the speaker’s husband, and a woman named Irena. The narrator begins the story with the birth of Irena’s son Nicolas and proceeds to weave an intricately twisted tale together that unfolds in unpredictable ways. The story works on multiple levels to powerfully address issues such as violence against women and problems of the lower class. At one point in the story the narrator recalls a story from Irena’s past that serves as the first instance of domestic violence she would encounter with her boyfriend Eddie: “In middle school . . . Eddie called her a whore, pinned her up against a wall in the Burger King, and rubbed the makeup off her eyes and lips with a spit-dampened napkin.” While the narrator focuses on the problems of society and the chaos of her husband Dex’s childhood friends, she fails to see with any clarity what is happening in her own world until it has already happened. This story is one that will keep you engaged and leave you wanting more.

In “Provincetown” by Oliver Bendorf, the idea of a Provincetown and everything one is comprised of is used as an analogy for a volatile relationship. The poem begins with for a desire for peace within the relationship: “In my mind, I beg our blood to work. To keep us loving / long after we’ve breached. I lean into your shoulder, not light.” As the poem continues, it quickly shifts to the narrator becoming violent: “He slaps the water, with his fin because he can, the naturalist had said.”

The poem ends with the narrator speaking on behalf of both lovers. He speaks of how each ponders the fact that they could have been alone; they could have been islands and not peninsulas:
We are inside our minds thinking, I was almost an island.
              It never does rain. I never do get bored. Leaving the Cape
on Route 6, we chew taffy and listen to oldies. Here is
              the bridge. We do not hit traffic. We do not break down.
CutBank always delivers well-crafted pieces of work that offer fresh perspectives and most importantly inspire readers to work on their own craft.
[www.cutbankonline.org]
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Review Posted on September 14, 2014
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