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Ascent - Winter 2007

  • Issue Number: Volume 30 Number 2
  • Published Date: Winter 2007
  • Publication Cycle: Annual

Given editor W. Scott Olsen’s own work in nonfiction, one might assume that Ascent would demonstrate a bias for personal essays, place-based work, and travel writing. But what really stands out are the poetry and the fiction, especially the three short stories. The opening story, “Puck,” by Edith Pearlman, about a statue that seems to draw forth the desires of those who view it is both puckish and hopeful. Snappy dialogue and quirky characters keep the reader interested. The real gem of this issue is Judith Slater’s story entitled “Night of the Gypsies.” It is difficult to say why or how this quiet story remains with you. Part of its appeal lies in Slater’s decision to leave things messy. Matt, the main character, takes a walk one night and flirts with the idea of an affair. Standing with his neighbor, Helen Brashler, on her driveway as they consider how best to extricate a trapped and angry skunk, Matt hears the sound of the record player coming from his own home where his daughter practices for her dance recital. He is caught between the daughter that he has and the woman she will become. It is a story where nothing happens and everything happens, all amid beautiful language. The poetry in this issue is also wonderful, in particular Betsy Johnson-Miller’s “Season’s End.” Her opening lines begin “We do not name the bees’ / addiction, yet we all know // the way they crawl into whatever / will hold them.” Faced with the summer’s end, the narrator contemplates the many ways to cause pain and the idea that “saying goodbye // can sometimes be the only way / to live.”

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Review Posted on April 30, 2007

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