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Bellevue Literary Review - Spring 2007

  • Issue Number: Volume 7 Number 1
  • Published Date: Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

This issue’s charming cover photo, taken during WWI in Vichy, France, shows a nurse from Bellevue’s medical staff helping a dog apply a stethoscope to the temple of a man in uniform—eavesdropping on the man’s thoughts, perhaps? This image says much about the journal’s literary aesthetic; the stories, poems, and essays inside are about death and loss (of health, loved ones, ways of being in the world—the many things there are to lose as we encounter the human body’s various limits), but these are not depressing tales melodramatically told. Instead, they are creative and sometimes humorous engagements with realities we usually prefer to avoid. Take Susan Varon’s “Poem to My Right Hand,” in which the speaker fights to recover from a stroke: “Alien one that I am learning / to make my god, / you are beautiful / in your attempts to return / to your destiny, as in, human, / as in, making fire.” Laurie Kolack’s story, “Presidents, Space, Medical Miracles,” is told from the perspective of a man awaiting a lung transplant who struggles, as a life-long smoker who has recently quit, not only with a sense of responsibility for his own predicament, but also with feelings of alienation from a wife who continues to sneak cigarettes whenever she’s out of his sight. A few of the essays here were not really ready for prime time: Sarah Liu’s “Bones of Jade, Soul of Ice” had the potential to be a truly stunning piece but ultimately withholds more than it tells, and Pamela Hull’s “You Never Know” takes on a worthy topic in its reflections on aging but fails to fully cohere. Overall, reading this journal is much like settling into a rich and serious conversation, the kind that makes you mourn the fact that so many other daily encounters dissipate into small talk.

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Review Posted on May 31, 2007

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