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Farrago’s Wainscot - July 2009

  • Issue Number: Issue 11
  • Published Date: July 2009
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly online

This is a difficult review to write for two reasons: 1) Much of the content found in this quarterly defies easy description and interpretation; 2) They are closing their operation as of October 1. Nonetheless, it is such a well organized and interesting website, a somewhat belated review is better than no review at all.

I don’t know who Farrago is, but my dictionary defines “wainscot” as a fine grade of oak imported for woodwork – an intriguing combination of words for a “journal of the literary weird in fiction, poetry, and experimental word forms.” In this quarter’s edition, “The Non-Epistemological Universe of Emmaeus Holt” certainly fits the category. The story is a complicated affair of a recluse professor who has disappeared, and when police investigate his observatory they find bizarre painted walls, manuscripts in many languages, 5179 holes bored into the walls, each stuffed with rolls of parchment, and a telescope which reveals a strange secret when it is dismantled. “Hollow Woman” by Angie Smibert, quotes T.S. Eliot in the beginning of the narrative, and then traces the ruminations of a woman who has somehow survived the end of the world, not with a bang, but a whimper.

An engaging poem by Amy Riddle, entitled “Mimes at Dinner,” begins: “She doesn’t know / the other woman’s name / he doesn’t know / she spit in his tuna.” Amy’s humor extends to her bio in which she states, “And while she appreciates the progress humankind has made in terms of sanitation, she disapproves of automatic-flush toilets.”

My favorite offering in this issue, however, is “Nine Views of Mount Fuji” by Mike Keith, a series of poems connected thematically to the famous woodblock prints by the master, Hokusai. The reproduction of these prints is lovely and the poetry does the art justice. This is an example of exploiting the potential of online publishing to the fullest.

It is a shame that a publication like this has to fold, and one wonders where work of this ilk can find a home in the future. They are publishing one more issue and the archives are readily available. Check it out before it disappears into the great electronic hinterland.

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Review Posted on September 16, 2009

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