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North American Review - November/December 2004

  • Issue Number: Volume 289 Number 6
  • Published Date: November-December 2004

One of the only literary magazines in the United States to resemble in physical format a standard mainstream magazine, North American Review cannot be found on any newsstands, but is sold entirely by mail order. That the magazine simultaneously happens to be the oldest of its kind in the nation speaks impressively to the emphatic approval of a devoted subscription base. The back cover of this issue bears a facsimile of a handwritten note by Thomas Jefferson, regarding payment arrangements for his subscription for the year 1825. This issue contains 4 short stories, 4 nonfiction pieces, 3 reviews, and 21 poems. I enjoyed Phillip Gardner’s strange, wickedly funny story “Chainsaw Putt-Putt.” Narrated by a hopelessly nondescript character who finds himself forgotten-about just minutes after every social introduction, the story takes a number of dark but playful turns. “Me, I take a barstool at The Paradise Lounge, order a drink, and five minutes later the bartender says, ‘What are you having?’ I’ll hold up my bourbon and she’ll say, ‘Oh, yeah, you’re the guy in the turtleneck.’” Also engaging was Zachary Zorich’s essay “A Stone to Build On,” about the author’s experiences as an archeological intern on a dig at a Neanderthal feeding-site in the Crimean. Zorich’s inquiry into the palimpsest of epochs is vivid and personal, as when he turns up a perfectly crafted Neanderthal scraping tool made of flint. “There is no scientific explanation for why the Neanderthal might have chosen to shape the tool this way…I think he shaped [it] according to a sense of beauty that must be similar to the one that guided me when I picked up the tool to admire it.” Though some of the work in this issue seems encumbered by implausibility or the cliché, there is much to enjoy in North American Review. And for the cost per issue, one can hardly afford to miss a foray through this American literary tradition. [North American Review, University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, IA 50614-0516. E-mail: . Single issue $4.95. http://webdelsol.com/NorthAmReview/NAR]

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Review Posted on February 28, 2005
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