Siblinghood – an intriguing theme. In this issue of Cream City Review, I liked how the theme of siblinghood was always present, but not necessarily the focus. Often, the sibling relation adds a dimension to the main story (such as in the wonderful “Flashlights” by Zach Bean, which is a love story first and a brothers story second) or is observed from afar by an “outsider” (e.g. “Skin,” by Theresa Milbrodt, where a mother observes her daughters, one struggling with the same skin condition as her mom, the other healthy). In Yannick Murphy's delightful “Unreal Blue,” the issue of siblinghood is almost coincidental: this is a family story. But other stories put the focus right on the narrator's feeling for a brother or sister. Perhaps not surprisingly, these stories are often raw and painful, e.g. Kelly Spitzer's “Inside Out Of You,” which is both accusation and praise of the narrator's unstable sister, or Benjamin Percy's sinister, almost gothic “The Whisper.”
My favorite, however, is the funniest story in the issue: Eric Vrooman's short but sweet “Scrabble.” A true-sounding snapshot of two very different brothers, it's rich with moments of recognition and laugh-out-loud lines, but the ending remains sober, almost sad. A great story.
The nonfiction and poetry are intriguing, too. I especially liked two short poems: Claudia Burbank's “Eleven Rules,” which uses the always-handy list format to convey subtle but devastating memories, and Danielle Cadena Deulen's “For My Sister in the River,” a prose poem that takes a great and unexpected leap from past to present.
As regards the layout, I couldn’t help but notice several typos or punctuation issues (especially missing spaces after periods). While these glitches didn’t stop me from reading, they weren't necessary either – a pity, considering the high quality of the content. But these are nitpicks, really.
This issue proved to be inspiring.