Cranky is a slim little journal just bursting with spunky prose and poetry. The first poem, “When Company Comes,” by Robert Nazarene, sets the tone: “Mommy sweeps me under the sofa / beside the rotten Easter eggs / I was too dumb to find last spring.” There is little lyricism or slow contemplation here; turn to Cranky when you’re ready for sore spots and surprise. Take “The Bitter and Melancholy Exile of a Mummy,” the tale of an exhumed mummy who finds himself in New York City in 1935, which shows that it’s hard to make friends when you’re undead, but easy to become a celebrity. Before heading to Hollywood to make a depressing, falsified film of his own life story, the mummy meets Noel Coward at a cocktail party: “‘I have been often alone,’ Coward says softly, his gaze sliding from the Mummy’s eyes to hide from him the remnants of a desolation felt too often in the past. ‘Not like me,’ the Mummy says bitterly.” And it’s true—you can’t help feeling for someone whose own world is long out of reach and who, undead and immortal, has no way out of this one.
Cranky also offers fabulous interviews. In this issue we hear from Norman Lock, author of the Mummy’s story, about why he doesn’t mind being banished to the literary margins, as well as from Sabrina Orah Mark, prose poet. Two of Mark’s poems also appear here: “On the Way to Mist Must,” in which “Beatrice’s imagination zoomed past them in a white fur coat,” running wild, and “The Oldest Animal Writes a Letter Home,” in which the “animal” writes to Beatrice about the whereabouts of that wild imagination. These two are so good I had to read both of them aloud to my husband. Read them! Read Sabrina Orah Mark. Read Norman Lock. Read Cranky.