Event is a Canadian literary journal associated with Douglas College in British Columbia. While they primarily publish poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and reviews from Canadian writers, they do accept submissions from all over. Their aesthetic seems broad ranging, with an inclination for stories that have a hint of the mysterious or unconventional.
Craig Davidson’s “Friday Night Goon Squad,” one of the more straightforward stories included, is also one of the more emotionally compelling. A social services worker at the Children’s Aid Society, who has suffered a miscarriage, but is newly pregnant again, narrates. The reader comes to know a bit about the narrator’s marriage, as well as some of her clients, in particular a 12-year-old named Oliver and his mother, who, the narrator informs Oliver’s principal, “scored 47 points on the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale . . . lower than most students” at the middle school. Oliver’s mother is also pregnant, delivering the child during the story. Tension derives from the imbalance between the mother’s care for Oliver and her inability to actually provide for her children. As may be expected, the story takes a turn for the dark.
Also quite interesting, but more elliptical, is Fraser Calderwood’s “The Mouth Parts,” opening with the line, “It woke and bit the big thing that was touching it.” The ground on which the story stands becomes less evasive and more concrete, relating a chronology out of order, as it progresses. The thing biting at the start is a black widow spider that a girl named Brigit encounters in a head of frozen lettuce she opens. Progressing through Brigit’s hospital stay and the reactions of her parents, the tale concludes in a scene with Marcos, a Mexican worker who leaves the black widow in the lettuce before it is bundled to be sold in Canada, because he, at 12, treats the spider with “the same indiscriminate curiosity that all bugs caused in him . . . It would be safe there, have good food.” Marcos views the world as a mixture of marvel and suffering, and he “saw no reason for the spider, also, to suffer.” “The Mouth Parts” touches on the haphazard and spiraling effects of the random.
Event contains a number of strong poems as well, including Jon Paul Fiorentino’s “Summary: The History of Sexuality,” which is a diagrammed drawing of a fan with parts labeled with phrases such as “Tolerance Space” and “Active Site.” And Fiorentino’s “Summary: Condensation and Displacement” is another industrial sketch with labels such as “Displacement,” “More Shame,” and “Reconsideration.”
Julie Cameron Gray’s terse “In Response to ‘What’s New?’” imagistically describes a state of emptiness, ending, “But other than that, nothing is new. / The sky was pale white, all day.” Danielle Janess’s “Last Time We Spoke I Was on a Payphone in Berlin” abstractly summarizes the gaps in the end of a relationship before reaching a denial, “I can’t follow you. In jeans and charcoal hat. I won’t.” Nick Thran’s “The Silence of Small Towns” starts, “I’m afraid of the silence of small towns,” and concludes, “through the centre of the silence of small towns”—using “silence” and “small towns” as refrains throughout. The sparseness of the poem echoes the fear and quiet of the first line.
The selections in this issue of Event are often atmospheric, full of opaque directions that crystallize in the language and last minutes of the stories and poems.