The reader is welcomed to this issue of Crazyhorse with the editor’s modest reminder of the stories and poems published by the journal that were selected for the Best American Series, including the Poetry, Short Stories and Nonrequired Reading volumes.
One assumes that this issue’s “Meditation,” by Michael P. Kardos, will earn similar attention. Kardos employs a light touch to immerse the reader in Sandy Stoddard’s dilemma: though currently stable, her previously tempestuous marriage to a recovering alcoholic may crumble if the truth of her long-ended affair is revealed. Complicating the story is the fact that Sandy is employed as a mediator; the normally unflappable paragon of compromise is confronted with a situation in which negotiation may not be possible. The twists of plot propel the reader as much the empathy that is evoked for Sandy and her husband.
Gretchen, the young protagonist of April Ayers Lawson’s “The Way You Must Play Always,” has some problems. After being found in a compromising position with her cousin, she is forced to begin piano lessons in hopes she’ll stay out of trouble. Lawson paints the sad confusion of early adolescence quite well, reminding us with sympathetic prose that Gretchen, above all, wants to find an emotional connection that allows her to play the piano as beautifully as when Miss Grant praises her.
In her nonfiction piece, “Inspiration Point,” Joelle Fraser compellingly recounts the story of young people in formerly rural California whose lives are irrevocably changed by the accidental Methadone overdose of two young men.
The poetry in Crazyhorse is gleefully tinged with echoes of the Beats and stream-of-consciousness randomness. Dean Young’s entertaining “53-Year-Old Pinata” inspires hope each of us hold closely to our twenty-first century hearts: “Nevertheless one day our devices may dock / as we were told was possible by the nerds at tech support.”