At the end of the day, aren’t we all looking for the same thing: words on a page that are strong enough to transport us inside a writer’s mind? I’m a picky reader and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It takes a lot to get, much less keep, our attention. That said, the Spring 2014 issue of Arroyo does not disappoint; in fact, it is quite the page turner—transported I wanted, transported I got.
If poetry is your thing, then look no further. Dean Rader’s “Praise Song for the Petty Fury” begins with the line, “Even the devil in his satin pajamas, his pitchfork a pillow of fire, loves to snuggle.” I don’t know about you, but that’s a visual I will never get out of my head. . . and let’s be honest here, who would want to? A snuggly Satan in satin pajamas? How is it possible to not crave more? Alas, maybe poetry about the devil isn’t your thing. No worries, Rader still has you covered. Enter his woodcut world of black and white lines in his Albrecht Dürer inspired poem “Where We Live.” A Northern Renaissance art historian’s dream come true, the descriptions in this poem are so vivid that one can clearly picture St. Jerome and his study, even if one has never laid eyes on Dürer’s masterpiece before.
Warning! Elena Megalos, in her short story “Facts About Japan,” may cause an uncontrollable desire to book the next available flight to the Land of the Rising Sun, complete with a pit-stop at the nearest cat café. With a narrative voice that will make you want to ask her twenty questions over coffee, and humor that will make you want to re-read certain passages over and over again (both to yourself and to random strangers hovering nearby in public), this piece will not only put a smile on your face, but I’m pretty sure it’ll add years to your life, as well, from all of the laughter and joy it incites.
If creative nonfiction is what you’re after, look somewhere else. I only say this because this issue only includes one creative nonfiction piece, Rachel Howard’s “Frank Black,” which left me with a tight chest and a sly grin, as I thought about my first love and the excitement that comes with the mixture of youth, experimentation, and raging hormones. Howard writes, “Scott was listing all the places he would put his mouth on me. That he would put his mouth on me there. I had never imagined there. I sucked the [phone] cord. I walked out the front door.” As the reader learns that Scott was the writer’s first lover—in a long line of many—we’re left with the visual of queen bees
, soaring through the air, copulating with one male bee after another as we wonder along with the writer, “if it matters [or not], whether she feels well cared-for by the first.”
What this issue of Arroyo is lacking in nonfiction it more than makes up for in fiction and poetry. This is the real deal, folks. Transported you want, transported you will get.
Reviewer bio: Amy J. E. MacKenzie is a creative nonfiction writer who currently resides in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. In the fall of 2013, she began an M.A. in Writing at Coastal Carolina University, where she also works as a graduate teaching assistant. When Amy’s not ferociously writing essays, she’s most likely singing along proudly to her favorite 80s pop songs and playing with her famous bunny, Sir Cali Kahlúa, and her four mischievous rescue kitties: Salem, Tiger Lily, Maverick, and Toaster Strudel. You can follow her (and them) at: www.twitter.com/amyjemackenzie.