This issue of The Los Angeles Review is packed with nonfiction, fiction, poetry, interviews, reviews, and even a special feature on John Rechy. At just under 300 pages, it is truly a wonder how the editors were able to include so many genres and forms. Rechy was impossibly lucky to have the first piece of fiction he submitted be published. He was a gay hustler who needed physical affection, even after becoming a successful writer. His writing is poignant, vivid, and mesmerizing, here is a little taste included in the magazine:
THE MAZE of the New York subways—the world pours into Times Square. Like lost souls emerging from the purgatory of the trains (dark rattling tunnels, smelly pornographic toilets, newsstands futilely splashing the subterranean graydepths with unreal magazine colors), the newyork faces push into the air: spilling into 42nd Street and Broadway—a scattered defeated army. And the world of that street bursts like a rocket into a shattered phosphorescent world. Giant signs—Bigger! Than! Life!—blink off and on.
The streets become a living, breathing monster that I cannot wait to explore further. This excerpt from his book City of Night convinced me to pick the book up and give it a go.
Philip Memmer writes a clever and funny poem titled “The Parable of the Thieves.” The first two thieves turn up empty, and, with no gold or jewels in sight, they leave and do not return. The third thief goes into the third house and does not break or steal, but he does sleep on the floor for a night. Then, he begins to take care of the house, tidies up, and paints his name on the mailbox. The end of the poem allows the writer to shine through and give some advice:
And like this man—and though
you will always
be a thief in your heart—you must
find the kingdom empty,
then make it yours.
This poem is a nugget of genius. From start to finish, I was completely wrapped up in the storyline and was reminded of fairytales such as The Three Little Pigs. The magazine also includes his other poem, “The Parable of the Sword.”
The LGBTQ community is not just a focal point in elections, but is an essential branch of the literary world. There is a great read in this literary magazine that focuses on the new generation in a roundtable style set of interviews. Angelo Nikolopoulos made some really great points in his responses. There is so much discussion of defining what “queer” means and segregation of all the different types of identity that vary from heterosexuality. He says, “trying to define ‘queer’ seems to me in many ways a very ‘unqueer’ enterprise. Instead, I like the word slippery and stubborn and drunkenly inclusive. This way it performs its own concept; like identity, it circumvents and thwarts categorical definitions.” It’s so hard to put a label on feelings and beliefs because they are abstract and sometimes impossible to explain to others.
But just because a writer identifies with a certain group, community, or affiliation doesn’t mean that their identity is the only important writing point. The world seems to have gotten so lost in social issues; yet we are all fighting the same fight. In the U.S., we believe in equality and opportunity. Nikolopoulos shares his universal ideas that are not gender specific or of an exclusive sexual orientation. He recognizes that we are all people, and “If you understand the body’s all you’ve got, I would think you’d treat it and others more compassionately.” Rather than spending so much energy in vying for a specific afterlife, we should treat others with respect in this life.