Here is what to like about the Summer 2012 issue of New Haven Review:
— The table of contents has each writer’s name and a sentence encapsulating the work, plus the page number— for example, “Suzanne Richardson is desperately seeking Meredith 122” —no titles and no genre designations.
— The titles are all in 48-point boldface on the left-facing page, opposite from where the story or poem begins; this is where you discover the title and genre of the piece as it is not delineated in the table of contents.
— The tone of the website and the tone of the print publication are the same: “founded to resuscitate the art of the book review and draw attention to Greater New Haven-area writers. It was called The New Haven Review of Books then, which was too wordy, but at the time, we weren’t sure we would ever print another issue, so what did we care?” Inside, the mag feels just like that.
— The nonfiction is edgy. The first in this genre, by Jeff VanderMeer (“is pulling your leg, the one you think you have”), called “The Art of the Literary Fake (With Violin),” parses a book VanderMeer labels an excellent fake, The Art of the Funerary Violin, by “Rohan Kriwaczek.” You learn all about what makes a good literary fake: sequencing; a good frame; just enough toehold in the world of “real” to keep the audience admiring its toehold in the world of “real,” which is actually more disciplined than “real” nonfiction; and so on and so on. And of course, by the time you’ve finished with the essay, galloping along drinking in every allusion to all manner of literary fakery, you half-know this is a fakery too. There is no Art of the Funerary Violin—you think. I read this on an airplane and was grinning like an idiot the whole time so that, when the steward passed, he stepped aside and didn’t even offer me a drink. (Which part of the previous sentence do you foolishly believe?)
Suzanne Richardson’s “Meredith is Missing” flashes with anxiety, toggling back and forth between present and past tense, following the missing M with memories and mention of mental instabilities until she’s finally found; but then it ends with a metaphor that throws you to the ground. Fantastic.
“On Growing Up Between Genders” gives us Stephen Burt’s forty propositions about gender identity, like “17 How do I want my body to be?” and “30 I don’t want to be one person; I don’t want to be one thing.”
I rejected Willard Spiegelman’s “Senior Reading” before I read it because it seemed like he was going to parrot Alberto Manguel, but then I read it and saw all manner of truths about my own seniorish reading habits, such as that I don’t have the energy to read what I don’t want to. Voila! Spiegelman, I’ve found a kindred spirit!
— The poems are sweet and readable, and the fiction is scary good. For example, “Toby Jenkins Perkins tells a short story that begs for forgiveness” With “I Remember the Miracle.” I read this first for some reason (I need forgiveness too, I guess) and had a tremble-hearted viscerally-knotted reaction throughout this frighteningly flat-voiced story of racism and violence. A story to shake at. And Nick Mamatas’s story (“Five Days a Week the Commute Was”) takes a genius all over BART, the train system of my hometown, annihilating everything. Whew!
Here’s what not to like about this issue of The New Haven Review: Nothing! It’s a winner!
The print version comes out twice a year, but new work comes online at odd (and happy) moments any time. Go online to get a taste, and then subscribe. The Literistic seeks you—and you, if you like good writing that originates anywhere, need them.