The Gettysburg Review is a consistently beautiful literary magazine. Distinctive art work grace its cover and internal gallery, and it has a sensual “feel good” quality. The Review continually selects works of fiction, essay, and poetry which make you sigh. This issue does not disappoint, although the art work—desolate industrial Manhattan landscapes by Andrew Lenaghan—can best be appreciated after reading the insightful commentary by Molly Hutton.
The fiction magnetized me. My favorite pieces are “Among the Tootalonians,” by Edward Falco and “Still Life with Dog” by Terry Bain. Falco’s is an engaging story of two lonely misplaced people who discover each other at an art exhibition. Val and Alice’s unconventional interaction highlights their emotional pain, both unique and common between them. A bold act of compassion, through Val’s hands, promises more than temporary relief to the couple. Bain’s story feels like the title. In art, a still life captures not only a moment but also the complex textures and relationships of the gathered objects. Bain expertly accomplishes the same goal, showing us a glimpse of life on a ranch in Washington while hinting and shadowing how events in the characters’ lives interface.
And then, along comes William Trowbridge. Any poet whose latest collection is entitled, “The Complete Book of Kong” (yes, as in King Kong) is certainly one who is going to cultivate the unexpected. Trowbridge’s three poems in this issue surprise, delight, and walk the thin edge between sarcasm and irony. In each poem we meet a character named “Fool.” Fool is a king, a man with bad luck, an archangel shooting for a promotion. My favorite fool is the fallen angel who is “put in charge of the Small Consolations detail that plants / dimes and quarters under sofa cushions. / Each one you find contains his blessing.” [The Gettysburg Review, Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, 17325-1491. E-mail: . Single issue $7. http://www.gettysburg.edu/academics/gettysburg_review/] - GK