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Zymbol - Summer/Autumn 2015

  • Image: Image
  • Published Date: Summer/Autumn 2015
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual
Well, this is both overwhelming and embarrassing. This issue of Zymbol is the “Big Fiction Issue,” so there are “The Private Dream Notebooks of Clive Barker,” and the interview of Gail Potocki with her “Freaks of/and Nature,” and Douglas Basford on translating Valentino Zeichen’s poetry.

So what’s embarrassing? There are six fiction writers, nine more poets, another piece of nonfiction, and even more artwork. The cover artists demand attention, but there’s no one piece in this issue that can be justifiably ignored! No ‘summary’ is going to do justice to all of this fine work!

The seven pages from Clive Barker’s “dream notebooks” give us a first look at the types of sketches that inspire the films, fiction, and comic books of an artist whose work is placed with that of Stephen King and Guillermo del Toro. The extensive interview with Gail Potocki is no less impressive, as it is paired with six pages of her “Freaks” exhibition and a commentary on her favorites and her inspirations.

These two art pieces are reinforced by the inventive artwork and commentary from Judith Brandon and the “Partridge Partition Party Particle” of Andrew Abbott. Both artists promise a new look at contemporary art.

The poetry also provides new and interesting images, with such works as Virginia Konchan’s “Natural History Museum” and Douglas Basford’s “Nut With a Worm In It”:
That being John Diliinger’s giddy metaphor
for prison and his inevitable

escape, paraphrase a hardened criminal
laughing and you invite trouble, for sure, 
Basford provides us with an interesting perspective with his translations of Valentino Zeichen’s poetry, prefaced by his own commentary on the work in “Everything Says Goodbye to Everything Else.” The two poems are provided in both Italian and English, and we are readily invited to compare the possible translations, and of course, the resultant nuances in imagery and flow.

Broadly speaking, much of nonfiction today, it seems, is becoming ‘better’ than fiction. The result is the influence of nonfiction style and approach on fiction. The six pieces of fiction present here provide an interesting opportunity to evaluate the styles and approaches, which may become increasingly used, if not popular, in nonfictional work.

They read like personal narratives; in fact, three of the six pieces begin with “I.” Not that that has a negative effect on the work, but it does have an effect. The authors in these selections are not novices; Meng Jin, Wendy Rasmussen, and C. Connor Syrewicz are accomplished and published writers. The question is not the quality of their work, but of what techniques we can anticipate in the future.

Comparably, the nonfiction pieces of Mathew Webber and Douglas Basford are social (Webber’s “Art of War”) and artistic (Basford’s “On Translating Valentino Zeichen”) commentaries. This can leave us thinking of the fiction pieces as ‘more real’ personal commentaries in the future. But it does make an appreciated distinction between the two genres.

Well worth reading, this issue of Zymbol is more overwhelming than embarrassing for readers. It’s just a pleasant problem if you’re a reviewer.
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Review Posted on November 16, 2015

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