A lot of litmags call themselves contemporary, but Backwards City Review is one of the few that truly feels like a product of the 21st century. It's not just the alt comics and offbeat fiction, but the awareness that literature and art can, indeed, be fun. Dorothy Gambrell's Cat and Girl comic, for instance, presents a waitress (girl) and an indecisive customer (cat) trying to decide on an order. (What's “the anthropomorphic platter?” “Beef tongue on a roll.”) The joke comes to a brilliant head when the cat asks what's on the villanelle sandwich and the waitress describes it to him – in villanelle form. Now that's good nerd humor! In poetry, Kathleen Rooney brings back the rondelet with “X-Country Rondelet,” a poem about God's creation of the buttes (if not, indeed, everything else), ending with the lines: “The radio cackles. Who disputes / that you, I, & radios survive / because the butte-maker lives / & makes the buttes?” Just a few highlights of this issue, in brief: Douglas Watson's short story, “Against Specificity,” about the eternal trouble of “You want Thing A but are stuck with Thing B”; Rebecca Hall's “Ise,” the story of a Japanese-American man who finds a moment of compassion for his hard survivor of a mother; and David Bell's “Cancer Planet,” which presents a disease-free future in which people pay to get cancer and treatment, just to see what it feels like. Admittedly, not everything in this litmag is, perhaps, as clever as it thinks it is, but the good stuff far outweighs the mediocre.