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Gulf Coast - Winter/Spring 2007

  • Issue Number: Volume 19 Number 1
  • Published Date: Winter/Spring 2007
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

Gulf Coast does almost everything right, from cover to content. The magazine is even the perfect size: heavy enough to seem substantial, yet not injury-inducing, big enough to stand out on your bookshelf, but not so large as not to fit. The cover of this issue is adorned with one of Amy Blakemore’s haunting photographs. My favorite is Monument, which appears to be a Bunyan-esque statue taken from the back, an odd view, with a combination of haze and focus that makes it all the more eerie. Many of the stories, poems, and non-fiction within Gulf Coast take a similarly unexpected view. For Gulf Coast, this does not mean publishing stories merely because they are unusual, but those that tackle the familiar in a more personal way. The 2006 fiction prize winner (chosen by Antonya Nelson), Steven Wingate’s “Beaching It” has a Richard Ford-type quality in the main character’s inability to make even his modest aspirations a reality. Wingate paints the craftspeople who populate the fairs and markets of small town New England with such a fine brush—he points out the warts and the scars of all of his characters without seeming judgmental. This extends to a brilliant sex scene, which should win an award all on its own for being awkward, cruel, and memorable. The poetry prize winner, Tyler Caroline Mills, goes beyond memorable, as her haunting poem, “Nagasaki,” combines the image of the narrator’s grandfather discussing the dropping of the atomic bomb with Mills’s precisely noted details, the result of which often underscores the feeling of flight, and flight arrested: “This is the way my mother tells stories: / Pausing to notice the cardinals flashing / Like wet paintbrushes in the trees,” But limiting the discussion of another amazing issue of Gulf Coast to the award winners would do a disservice to the overall high quality; each piece merits its own glowing appraisal.
[www.gulfcoastmag.org]

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Review Posted on January 31, 2007
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