After falling behind for a small amount of time, The Puritan is now back up and running, this time with a new reading format. Available to read online or as a PDF, this issue offers a number of poems, fiction pieces, and interviews. The magazine features writing that “may push toward the symbolic frontier, challenging limitations and forging into previously unexplored aesthetic territory. But it may also revisit and revitalize traditional forms.”
The story that stuck with me the most was Andrew Boden’s “The Half-Life of Salvador Barbary,” in which a couple gives birth to an unhealthy baby: “Tinka Barbary didn’t have to push at all. Her baby slipped from her on a pink amniotic stream into the bright, warm lights of the delivery room, at 8:07 p.m.—without a sound.” And as the mother tries to understand what is happening with her baby, her husband, Daveed, remembers Chernobyl and wonders if the cesium-137 atoms that were passed from his own father to him might be the cause for his own baby’s defects.
Molly Lynch’s “What Makes You Think You’re the One?” was also shocking. But the beauty in this piece was in the details of description. For example, the narrator says, “. . . I was in the quilted single bed in my grandmother’s quiet house with its macramé plant holders and baked raisin-bun smell and linoleum on the kitchen floor that allows you to move through the room silently in socks at any hour.” I feel like I’m really there in the scene, or perhaps in my own grandmother’s house.
Anna Maxymiw’s glosa poem “The Taut String”—from an unpublished poem by M.M.—was a delight to read, especially for the small details and the way the words work fluidly together. The first stanza reads:
The wedding wages on. Girls with jugs of
samohon wind their white hands like snakes,
wave to the boys perched on roofs of houses,
wave to the tree nailed to the highest eaves,
their thin fingers curled like apostrophes around jar handles.
Behind the dancers, the cornfield spreads thick and dense,
cushioning the guests whipping the polka
across the mud—dirt up their ankles, dirt up their legs,
people like violent tops in red and black suspense—
and I quietly abscond past upturned jars on the wooden fence.
There is more fiction from Marc Apollonio, in which a young boy steals porn magazines from a barber shop, and Melissa Kuipers, in which the narrator deals with her initial envy of her college roommate, and poetry from Lynn McClory, Matthew Tierney, Amanda Earl, Sean Braune, Sean Howard, Alyda Faber, David Brock, and rob mclennan. What makes this magazine even better is that many of the pieces have an accompanying audio clip so that you can hear an excerpt of the piece in the author’s own voice. Although the issue seems to need a way to direct back to the homepage, the new format for The Puritan seems to be working well, and I hope it will continue to push forward interesting, new work.