The word for Issue 44 of Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art – Refreshing! In addition to the work of seventeen poets and four artists, the artistic layout and high quality construction contributes to the attractive overall effect.
The six fictions are immediate and lacking in exposition – not a bad thing – as in the following example from "The Contradiction" by Rebecca Curtis: "We said something that he didn't like. We were sorry but we had already said it." From "The White Fox," her second, and equally enigmatic, story in this issue: "The fox was struggling in my arms, its hind legs ripping my shirt and leaving long bloody scratches. I had slipped my hold a bit. Don't you realize, my sister said, that my work is important?"
In non-fiction, Scott Henkle's "They Reduced Us to Such a State We Became Like . . ." is a thoughtful meditation on the masking words public discourse uses – patriotic, sacrifice, heroic, etc. – to make the death and devastation of war and atrocity meaningful and bearable. Henkle uses the work of Lawrence L. Langer, which decries the use of subterfuge, as counterpoint while sidestepping ethical questions with the idea these words are ritual, and acceptable, assuagers of grief. Henkle's work is but one of six exceptional essays, including "Transparencies," Angela Autry Gordon's fascinating hair-care account: "I scanned the salon section for key words like weaves, Brandi Braids and relaxers." Dave Housley's "How to Listen to Old Hair Metal Tapes" is an amusing and informative overview of the musical era of Def Leopard and Motley Crue by a founder/editor of Barrelhouse Magazine.