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Glimmer Train Stories - Spring 2005

  • Issue Number: Issue 54
  • Published Date: Spring 2005
It’s probably redundant to elaborate on a short story titled “Death Is Not a Bad Joke If Told the Right Way.” Forgive me for trying: I can’t get enough of this meditative piece by Yiyun Li, a memoir of life in a Chinese commune in the 1970s, and the plight of an educated man rendered useless by the Cultural Revolution, as witnessed by the narrator as a child. Combining the wit and wisdom of tradition with the Communist ethos of the present, Li’s story has that perfect Glimmer Train touch: a world made real not by the urgency of plot but through the depths of character and setting. No story in this volume (twelve in all) is anything less than well-written; each world stays with you after you’ve finish reading. Other highlights include a gothic tale set in 1800s wintry Cape Cod following the aftermath of a young woman’s rape in Joseph Flanagan’s “Creed of Whispers,” and a brief but scintillating memory of 1960s adolescence in Lex Williford’s “Beck’s Girls” made more poignant when placed in its historical context. And while there may not be much character development in “Spring Creek Pass” by David Hicks, the landscape it paints across the Heartland and through the Rockies achieves almost a negative capability. Glimmer Train’s intimate author stories-behind-the-stories complete the set. Among the great fiction journals, they don’t come more polished than this. [] – Christopher Mote
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Review Posted on March 31, 2005

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