I find that in a lot of online and digital journals, editors are sticking to shorter pieces, grabbing readers’ attention for a short while, and then letting them go about their day—not surprising in the age of text messages and tweets. But while that is certainly well warranted and effective, it is certainly refreshing to see a journal like Gulf Stream that isn’t afraid to publish pieces that take more than 5 minutes to read.
Written in the third person to give it a little distance, Jonathan Callard’s nonfiction piece “New Country” is a must-read. A man, about to be ordained, meets a woman, and he’s afraid what loving her might mean for him, for his life:
If he were ordained, his priest Chris had once told him, he would not lose himself to the church. There was the fear, as in falling in love, that in surrendering he would lose track of who he was, and give up his life to something he could not control: the strip search, the prescriptions dispensed through the window on the adolescent ward, washed down in a tiny plastic cup the size of a thimble.
E.D. Watson’s “Crescent City Connection” has the classic elements of an enthralling story: suspense, danger, mystery, and deceit. Andromeda is head housekeeper at Bradbury Hotel, hiding from her ex, who she is convinced will kill her if he ever finds her. But she discovers it is someone else who has been watching her, “a thin and red-lipped man,” and he needs her help.
The other fiction story, “The Art of Preservation” by Karen Parkman, involves the cremation of an ex-husband, the return visit of a born-again Christian daughter and her born-again boyfriend, and the struggle between mother and daughter. Tessie appreciates that her daughter is no longer doing drugs and getting into trouble, but she isn’t sure that Margaret’s new views are much better. Their relationship has been cracked for some time, but “after all that readjustment and moving on, Margaret had come back.”
The issue also features a nonfiction piece by Yarrott Benz; poetry by Caroline Davidson, Rachel E. Hicks, Lesley Janike, Sean J. Mahoney, and Michael Montlack; and a couple of book reviews and interviews.