“Our goal is to add a new voice to the increasingly sprawling network of artists and writers in the interior American West and beyond, wrap it up in mountain culture, and do it even though it doesn’t make sense for a lot of reasons,” explains editor Brian Schott in this journal from Montana. One of the journal’s most appealing aspects for readers, and most useful for writers, is to publish excerpts of forthcoming and unpublished full-length works: passages from a new book of creative nonfiction by writer and filmmaker Annick Smith, Crossing the Plains with Bruno; excerpts from a new work of nonfiction, Why I Came West, by Rick Bass, whose work here is preceded by a brief interview; and a segment from an unpublished novel by J.R. Satterfield Jr. titled Soon You Will Cry. I am looking forward especially to Smith’s book on Bruno, her Labrador retriever, and also to Why I Came West. Bass is at his best, I think, when he brings together his considerable talent for storytelling with his keen observations of place and the social conditions that inform it.
This issue also features a non-literary voice, an interview with “one of the world’s premier professional kayakers,” Brad Ludden, followed by an extraordinary photo of Ludden in action by Trask McFarland. In fact, this issue of Whitefish Review includes 12 reproductions of artworks, all quite exquisite: a stark and gorgeous black and white photograph of damaged trees called “The Remnant” by Tyler Call; a marvelous color photograph of birds perched in a stain glass window titled “East Window” by Christopher Woods; a photo of an Exxon sign (really!) that is ominous and luminous for all its gloomy light by Ian S. Griffiths, with an absolutely perfect title, “Optimism”; a lovely watercolor portrait, “Mary Beth,” by Florance O’Neal, among others. Artworks are followed by a brief statement from the artist, writing I found to be as engaging and worthwhile as this issue’s “creative” writing. The art and accompanying statements are some of the best I’ve seen recently in literary journals.
The issue also includes a poem and a short story by the winners of a high school writing contest sponsored by the Authors of Flathead, and a quiet, lovely poem by Catherine A. Still, “Find a Crack in the Earth” (“Watch the furious mantle / of assassination, of disappointment / fall from your shoulders. / Let your memory powder/this granite with dust.”).