Who could resist the cover art of this publication? Themed “Youth,” I had to keep reminding myself of that as I read the works in this issue, so varied were the contents and perspectives on this theme. Favs in poetry include “Why I Gave Up Mysticism” in thirteen parts by Sean Lause which combines concrete narrative with its own mystical rhetoric: “and ate Eskimo Pies / that wept down our shirts / as we listened to intricate crickets / design the dark.” And Ruth Kessler’s “Valediction” which presents the adult child’s departure from the parental point of view: “into your eager hands we would like to press everything we / have paid for so dearly at life’s roadside bazaar.” Michael Leong’s personification in “Blackboard” left me smiling, grade school memories replenished, while Jeremy Byars “The Last Time I Saw Her,” a boy’s recollection of most innocently being the last witness, left me haunted with so many childhood warnings about strangers.
Of the prose, all works remain with me, some begging rereading; this and the variety of style a testament to editorial effort. The writing of childhood experiences is not easy to nail, whether real or surreal (Geoffry Forsyth’s “In My Mother’s Kitchen” wins my “Most Bizarre Story of the Week” award). Debra Schneider’s “Rather” is reminiscent of Gibbon’s Ellen Foster in dialect, but hits harder than expected by story’s end. Rosanna Koster’s “The Anorexic’s Daughter” unlayers the psyche of two women each wrapped in their own eating disorder. David Holper’s “Some Things I’m Not Telling,” except for one brief moment where it may have gone too adult-introspective, is dead-on teen attitude in prose (somewhat Danny Darko-ish), and is ringer for film (Any script writers out there? Scoop this one!) Vivian Wagner’s “Telling” also needs mention, another great example of how growing older is exactly what we need to do to examine and appreciate all those years before. And thanks to Jillian, Zoe, Jennie, and Lorraine for the artwork. For variety and strength of content, GRR is a clear choice. [http://grr.jsc.vsc.edu/] – Denise Hill