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Sycamore Review - Winter/Spring 2007

  • Issue Number: Volume 19 Issue 1
  • Published Date: Winter/Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

Sycamore Review refuses to be lost in the “to be read” stack, partly because the magazine is an 8-inch by 8-inch square, which leaves its wings outstretched from most towers of books. However, not only its unusual dimensions (but, really, what is unusual anymore?) and comfortable paper quality make the magazine an aesthetic delight. We are gathered here today to find out whether form and content are unified as equal partners. (Quickly: yes.) The poetry is superlative, consisting of the winner and finalists of the 2006 Wabash Prize for Poetry. This issue begins with the winning poem, Cindy May Murphy’s “For My Father, Who Fears I’m Going to Hell,” a title immediately provoking reader expectations, and is followed by a poem that adeptly confounds those expectations. The lone essay by Mike Meginnis is a haunting piece where “our young hero” attempts to solve the “alien” that is his father in hope of applying those findings to himself. Fiction includes work by Megan Harlan, Rita Welty Bourke, and Dave Housley. Housley’s is a piece composed of pieces, as though arranged from the remains of something broken, entitled “Notes for the Guy Who Stole My Identity,” where the protagonist offers some advice to an unnamed other about how to take his place. Interviews are abundant in this issue, and they’re excellent. First up, the folks at SR chat with Tom Benedek about his series of reconstituted screenplays, with which he explores the notion of being “shot” by shooting his unproduced or “dead” screenplays and then photographing the carcasses. Next is an exchange with Natalie and Drew, creator-geniuses of the profoundly funny and popular online comics Toothpaste for Dinner and Married to the Sea; reproductions of cartoons from TFD and MTTS appear throughout the interview. Then comes Michael Martone – Martone returns for his second interview, his first in 1997. If you’ve read his book about writing, then you’ll be familiar with about half of this interview, which is not to say it’s any less brilliant or less relevant, only that Martone has certain anecdotes that he uses to illustrate his position/angle/framework as a fiction writer. By no means is the interview simply a reconfiguration of previous statements, and to clarify: everything that’s new in the interview is worth the price of admission. Closing out the issue are reviews of books by Nadine Sabra Meyer, Geraldine Brooks, Cormac McCarthy, Haruki Murakami, Philip Roth, and others. Sycamore Review is an impressive literary magazine. []

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Review Posted on April 30, 2007

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