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Ninth Letter - Fall/Winter 2007

  • Issue Number: Volume 3 Issue 2
  • Published Date: Fall/Winter 2006-07
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

Ninth Letter is an impressive machine. No expense was spared in design or production. A few ground rules before putting this thing in gear: No sipping tea or coffee while reading its contents, because, like piloting a big rig down the highway, Ninth Letter requires both hands. Open up and hold on. Your attention is no longer yours. Fiction takes off with Rachel Cantor’s “Zanzibar, Bereft,” the story of a story in search of and in conflict with itself, seeks growth and also desires the clean definition of identity. Mario Benedetti’s “The Big Switch” (translated by Harry Morales) shows Colonel Corrales spending all his time protecting the country by interrogating suspected rebels while the revolution takes shape in his own home while his daughter watches TV. A fiction/interview hybrid offers a preview of Oscar Hijuelos’s work in progress: an historical novel focusing on the friendship of Mark Twain and explorer Henry Morton Stanley. In the interview, situated in the column alongside excerpts from the novel, Hijuelos elaborates on portions of the text dealing with the hope of immortality inherent in the act of writing. Other fiction includes work from Roy Kesey, Patrick Crerand, Gonçalo M. Tavares, William Wall, S.P. Tenhoff, and more. Poetry opens with Robert Dale Paker’s “Introducing Jane Johnston Schoolcraft,” the seminal American Indian literary writer, and a selection of her poetry as well as poetry by Heid Erdrich and Louise Erdrich, two renowned contemporary Ojibwe poets. Moving and innovative poetry are also found in Elizabeth Langemak’s “Her Dance,” where the poem’s form itself sways back and forth with perfect rhythm along with the content. The images in Melissa Fair’s “Visitation” exude the dark power of atmosphere. Also among this feast of stimulating poetry is work by Chris Dombrowski, Bryan Narendorf, Candace Black, Lytton Smith, Cate Marvin, Paige Ackerson-Kiely, Joshua Poteat, and more. Plenty of fresh non-fiction comes from Jo Scott-Coe, Michael Martone, Joanna Imm, Bonnie J. Rough, and others. My favorite was David Evanier’s exposé on legendary literary representative, Sheldon Abend. Evanier does a good job of presenting “Shelly” in his glory, in his own words, and, to the contrary, according to the occasionally unflattering testimony of others. On top of all this is a ten-page, full-color feature entitled “Two Years of the Fillmore Posters,” with background and interviews with select artists. It’s hard to imagine how Ninth Letter could one-up this issue. I’m excited for the next issue to see how they do it.

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Review Posted on April 30, 2007

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