“American Apocalypse” – the theme of the twentieth anniversary double issue of Green Mountains Review. The editor discusses the differences between “dread” and “apocalypse”: “‘dread’ implies profound fear, even terror of some impending event” while “apocalyptic thinkers are more actively engaged…and sometimes actively embracing the apocalyptic event." The editor wants to add “imaginative perspective” to reflecting on the end of the world.
More than one hundred pages deal ingeniously with various sorts of apocalypses. Kevin Allardice in "Go Like This,” depicts a young boy, who was bullied, now terrorizing a younger boy he was asked to befriend in the aftermath of a disaster, challenging the reader to find humanity somewhere. A couple is the first to survive a revival of the Black Death, only to be threatened with death by scientific experimentation in “The New Plague” by Elizabeth Rollins. She puts in a clever, comic twist. Frightening adolescents having the temper-tantrum-of-all-time, threaten the safety of an entire region in “Pucker Pie,” a sinister, realistic nightmare that could have been written by a discouraged substitute teacher.
The poetry is first-rate and equally serious. Shattering is one word for Jim Daniel’s “Thirst, 1989” about a man traveling with a cousin in a war zone. “Between cabins, women stepped over us / into the stall, clutching crumbling purple bills. / It was Yugoslavia then. // Many of those soldiers / dead now.” Likewise, this poem will clutch the reader. Lola Haskins explores the cruelty of human nature in “The Gopher Tortoise,” bluntly and cryptically: “There is no room in our country for anything slow / No room for anything that digs its hole / and refuses to move.” With tenderness and a hint of sternness in her poem “Now,” MaryLee McNeal puts voice to impending death: “All this time they’ve been circling the world, / whatever led you to think they’d not land / where you live?”
By focusing this issue on the end of things, the editors have brilliantly allowed the readers to revel in original, combustible works that glow in the dark and burn an impression on your weathered mind.