Published by Manhattanville College (Purchase, NY), this issue of Inkwell contains stories and poems that the editor has chosen because they “help us embrace new worlds.” Most of the works indeed strive toward character-based abstraction. The fiction, thankfully, remains grounded in concrete narrative.
Most men feel emasculated by reproductive problems, and the narrator of Mike Schiavone’s “Sterile” is no exception. Though Hub’s wife has left him for a “nineteen-year-old motorcross racer,” he doesn’t begin to reach closure until the development revealed in the story’s intriguing opening sentence: “Sunday afternoon he’d been upstairs watching the Orioles game when his dog leaped out the open window and landed with a thud.”
Clare Beams’s “Much Peace” doesn’t tread new ground in terms of subject matter (prodigal daughter returns home), but the story succeeds tremendously because the author paints such a complete portrait of Barbara, the mother. Once the conflict is established, Beams uses potent dialogue to fill out the characters. The conclusion, though inevitable, is cast in an inventive manner.
In “Sleeping Like Silverware,” Devon Brenner entertainingly extends the idea of “spooning” with a lover to its natural end, involving the rest of the utensils in the drawer. The poem will haunt you each time you put clean dishes away: “The way we slept, / if we slept at all, / was more like silverware / in the dishwasher / at the end of the economy cycle.”
A minor concern: the issue has no table of contents.