Toad Suck Review has exploded with success since its debut issue in 2011. Volume 2 is titled “Obey” and follows well on the heels of a remarkable first issue. The table of contents is enough to lure you into a very different and fun structure. Included are: Nonfixion, High-Octane Poetix, Artist-in-Residence Features, Fixion, Translation, Eco-Edge, Critical Intel, and much more. This magazine features not only current writers, but honors great past writers as well. Everything is woven into an incredibly enjoyable read that leaves breadcrumbs along the way to find more where that came from.
I was especially blown away by “A ‘Very Nice’ Sand Castle” by Charles Bukowski. At first, I had reader’s whiplash. Hadn’t we lost Bukowski in the ‘90s? But this story brings him back to life, even larger than life. The narrator brings his daughter, Louise, to a cement wall that runs along the shoreline. As they are eating lunch, the narrator states: “It’s too bad I have to look at those people,” which sparks an insightful conversation with Louise:
“Why don’t you want to look at them?”
“They have no desire.”
“Well, let’s see. ‘Desire’ is wanting something you usually can’t get right when you want it, but if you have enough ‘desire’ you can sometimes get it anyhow . . . Oh hell—that sounds like ‘ambition,’ which is something you’re trained to do instead of something you want to do. Let’s just say that those people don’t want anything.”
“Those people don’t want anything?”
“Right. In a sense, nothing affects them so they don’t want anything, they aren’t anything. Especially in Western Civilization.”
“But that’s the way they are. Maybe that’s a good way to be.”
As the two contemplate desire and ambition and consequently drive, I thought about myself as well as others surrounding me. Great literature tends to make you think. The story continues as two gentlemen walking down the beach rough up a homeless man and the narrator intervenes. I’ll leave it up to you to discover his next insightful conversation with the homeless man.
Unlike the infamous Charles Bukowski, I was unfamiliar with Roy Trask before reading this issue. The excerpt “Supermodel Stupor Model” highlights some of his novel Surreal Killer. The sarcasm and emphasis is absolutely remarkable; I cannot recall reading such a cheeky and fun piece of writing prior to Trask’s work. Here’s a little nibble:
Then one day Susan was stationed somewhere in the caribbean doing a swimsuit photo shoot Of Course Susan stayed at the plushest resort Because Susan Didn’t Have To Pay She was SO famous and desirable that she stayed at ALL hotels for free Ate at ALL restaurants for free She did NOT have to tip She fucking SHOPPED for free so ecstatic were any sort of business owners lucky enough to have Susan step through their doors Oh My God Gasped the help And took photos with their cellular telephones
There is no punctuation, and the spacing varies throughout the excerpt to emphasis different breaks. Normally, I cringe at the forced gimmicks of such utter breaking of the English language; however, Trask makes the English language his own, and every rule he breaks works together, just as Susan breaks the rules.
In the section titled: Critical Intel, C. Prozac offers us some “No B.S. Reviews.” Even better, they are in the form of poetry! For example, he begins reviewing John Roch’s book titled Road Ghosts as follows:
portrait of a teenage
“Howl”ing his trek
Prozac also reviews a 200 paperback titled Blank by Davis Schneiderman. Following the book’s information is a large white space. It’s just blank, down to the bottom of the page. Although I have no idea what Schneiderman’s book entails, I’m assuming it’s a big wad of nothing. Which is a very clever way to review a book titled Blank with nothing but a bit of blank page.
It is rare for me to blatantly praise a literary magazine for all its glory; however, this issue of Toad Suck Review is an incredible read. The stories are diverse, fun, edgy, comical, and really push the limits. Toad Suck Review is daring. After each piece, the editors thoughtfully include where the piece originates from and how to purchase the extended version. I am not ashamed to admit that I ordered Surreal Killer immediately after I read Trask’s excerpt. These pages will make you think, laugh, search, talk, and maybe even cry in happiness a little bit on the inside.