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At Length - 2005

  • Issue Number: Volume 1 Issue 2
  • Published Date: 2005
This is a beautiful journal. It uses the same elegant design with each issue, alternating only the cover’s color and the content – and included are usually a novella, a long poem, and black-and-white artwork. Because the number of works is so small, the pressure on the editors to publish good pieces is much higher – little room for error here. In this issue, they get it more than right with Tom Sleigh’s poem “Bula Matari / Smasher of Rocks,” a breathtaking blend of The Iliad, Joseph Conrad, Africa exploration, the first atomic bombs, and the tragedy of a small family presented in quasi-theatrical form. Sound ambitious? It is, and more impressive, Sleigh pulls it off: “Conrad would call this moment / immersing yourself ‘in the destructive element.’ // My father’s slow death from radiation exposure / from his years of observing nuclear testing / in the Utah desert wasn’t quite what Conrad had in mind.” The issue’s artwork included is less admirable – it’s oddly Aeon Flux-ish – and Melissa Yancy’s novella “Stray,” while an inventive exploration of a lonely woman finding an abandoned child, keeping it, and raising it, never quite commits to being either realism or something beyond. But this is a minor criticism, and the novella, artwork, and poem are all daring and competent pieces – and at the very least, the same can be said for the journal. [At Length, PO Box 594, New York, NY 10185. E-mail: . Single issue $5.] – Sean Bernard
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Review Posted on July 31, 2005

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