I was curious to see how Ecotone would implement its motto “Reimagining Place.” To be honest, I was worried I'd get to read dutiful reports along the lines of “what we did on our holidays,” or “the weird customs in country X.” But no, Ecotone turned out to offer surprising and entertaining reimaginings of place – of all kinds of places: The world of corporate sharks (“Broadax Inc” by Bill Roorbach); a Swiss cottage where the narrator and her best friend, a marijuana plant named “Shrubbie,” explore the intricacies of human-plant if not human-squirrel communication, with bittersweet consequences (“My Shrub of Emotion” by Trinie Dalton); a world like ours which is invaded by sudden periods of complete silence (“The Year of Silence” by Kevin Brockmeier); and so many more. All stories go beyond the somewhat bland type of travel/nature writing I was expecting (skeptic that I am).
I was surprised to see that the creative nonfiction selections were as lively and exciting as the stories, definitely closer to memoirs than essays. I loved to read about so many different places I've never seen myself. If I had to pick favorites, I'd go for “Man v. Gar” by Mark Spitzer (a hilarious trip in pursuit of an elusive fish with probably the best ending I've read in a while), and “Dragging Wyatt Earp” by Robert Rebein, an unlikely but striking combination between very personal memories of growing up in Dodge City, Kansas and a biographical sketch of Wyatt Earp, of course.
Ecotone also publishes poetry. I admit I probably don't know enough about poetry to do it justice, but I found the poems here accessible and graceful. My favorite was the quiet “After All These Years You Know They Were Wrong about the Sadness of Men Who Love Men.”
Ecotone is a beautiful magazine with a brilliantly implemented vision. It passes the airport test.