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New England Review - 2006

  • Issue Number: Volume 27
  • Published Date: 2006
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly

New England Review is known for its excellence. A highly selective journal, the fiction and poetry found in its pages not only point to the writers who are at the fore of their genres but also to the direction the fields are heading. The editors seem to prefer poems and stories that break with tradition without sacrificing craft. Stephen O’Connor’s short story “Bestiary” would be an example. He gives us a rather elliptical tale of two people—one with a face that “looks like a knuckle”—who come together, or fail to come together, in a moment of sexual shame. A more traditional story in terms of form, Carla Panciera’s “No Sooner” leaves the reader with the same sense of disembodiment. What is lovely about Panciera’s work is how she captures the main character’s simultaneous love of her husband as well as her desire for the bodies of others. This issue has a special feature on Stanley Elkin that includes reminiscences by writers like Helen Vendler, John Irving, William Gass, and Charles Baxter. Some of the most remarkable selections in this issue are the poems and fiction in translation. Margret Schaefer provides a deft translation of turn-of-the-century Viennese author Arthur Schnitzler. Part of his novella, Lieutenant Gustl is a stream-of-consciousness narrative that is able to sustain the interior life of its opera-going main character for pages. The reader is at turns fascinated and irritated by Gustl’s all-too-human reflections. The fact that the NER juxtaposes works in translation, recovered works, contemporary poetry, and edgy short stories makes for a stimulating read. You never know what to expect when you turn the page—only that you will be asked to think and respond in heartfelt and challenging ways.

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Review Posted on January 31, 2007

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