The editors of The Southeast Review like to present the familiar in unusual form. This attitude is made clear with the playful front cover photograph depicting a baseball player with index finger extended at an umpire who was apparently in the wrong. Bat in hand, posture aggressive, the ballplayer clearly won’t tolerate an unfair call. The twist: the ballplayer is a woman, apparently a member of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League’s Fort Wayne Daisies. The fiction, poems and nonfiction in The Southeast Review play by the rules, but reserve the right to imbue them with a slightly askew tone.
Jason Wiener makes the most of what little space his short-shorts occupy. “Damages” vividly evokes the stresses inherent in the unfair situations caused by inattentive parents. “Last Grandma Party” explores what happens when a tiresome family custom becomes a genuine connection with the previous generation.
Kristen Keckler’s nonfiction piece, “Kitchen Men,” immerses the reader in the pressure-cooker environment endured by the restaurant chef and his or her brigade. While the reader understands the vicarious appeal of reading about the author’s romantic experiences with men who cook, Keckler satisfies the literary appetite with her observations of the milieu: “You can be sure your kitchen man knows this: salt raises the boiling point of water. Thus, he tends to be a master of foreplay.”
Whether or not one composes fiction, this issue’s interviews will prove insightful. It’s a treat, indeed, to get inside the heads of Ethan Canin, Elizabeth Stuckey-French, Ron Hansen and George Singleton, each of whom seem capable of providing abstract, helpful nuggets of advice. From Canin: “Content trumps language in the end.” From Singleton: “It might be easier to teach fiction writing to a smart high school student than a graduate student who has a BA in literature.”