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The Antioch Review - Spring 2007

  • Issue Number: Volume 65 Number 2
  • Published Date: Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly

If you’re interested in testing Antioch Review’s stellar reputation, just pick up the current issue. Everything that has made AR a benchmark standard for literary journals is in evidence here, as always: intelligent essays, eclectic themes, engaging stories, and unsparing poetry—all of it thriving in an ever-evolving habitat of exploration. It’s almost impossible to choose standout pieces in a collection as accomplished as this. Jeffrey Meyers opens the issue (and this writer’s eyes) with “The Literary Politics of the Nobel Prize,” a revelatory inside look at the Oscar-like machinations pulling the strings of literary prestige. Alan Cheuse explores what it means to call a work a “classic” in “Classics of the Future.” G. T. Dempsey defends Ernest Hemingway; Paul Devlin expounds on the legacy of Albert Murray; and Jack Matthews offers a convincing rediscovery of the long-neglected Christopher Morley. Scholarly, yet accessible, these essays launch the reader into the fiction and poems at the journal’s center, where Antioch Review’s embrace of literature continues to prize quality over content or style. Here, good writing is all that matters. AR does not shy away from controversial or inflammatory subject matter: Nathan Oates’ protagonist in “Hidden in the Trees” is an ex-heroin addict who discovers her autonomy in the switchback mountains of Guatemala. Mark Wisniewski’s “Straightaway” is a spare but concentrated story, charged with intrigue, desperation and the kind of soul-defining high stakes that are tensely mirrored in the racetrack finale. The only weak spot in AR’s fiction selections comes in Henry Van Dyke’s “Collateral Damage”: while the story itself compels attention, a bit more editing could have spared the repetition of backstory in several places. Poems in AR shine like birthstones: few and brilliant, each with its own light. Any poetry lover will find a charm to fit personal taste, whether it’s Paula Bohince’s acrostic on “mementos,” the chantlike power of Lisa Furmanski’s unsettling “Commandments,” or Dan Stryk’s vividly ekphrastic “Meditation[...].” Personal and critical essays round out this issue. Antioch Review’s careful discernment ensures that every selection is not only a reward, but an appetizer that will leave you craving more.

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Review Posted on May 31, 2007

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