Snail Mail Review prides itself on being a print magazine that maintains “mail-only interaction” with its writers. Interestingly, although this magazine revels in the virtues of print, one main reason that it attains the amount of quality work as it does might be because of its online presence. Although the magazine is amateur-looking (they hope to move from saddle-stitching to perfect-binding soon), Snail Mail Review is professional in the way that it belongs to LinkedIn, has a Facebook page, Gmail address, and many calls for submission on literary websites and blogs. These calls work. In the introduction to this issue, Editor Christine Chesko writes of a gigantic stack of submissions sitting on a chair in Co-Editor Kris Price’s house.
Much of the work that the editors select out of their submission pile is of good quality. Standouts in poetry include Caleb Bouchard’s “Interruption.” In this charming piece, Bouchard talks about all of the different types of poets he’s read, including “the punk-rock poets and the drunkard poets, / the happy poets (like hell) and the sad poets (hell yeah).” Gillian Wegener’s elegant “Consider the Amusement Park Sparrow” is also good, as is John Ronan’s amusing “The Five Good-byes,” which tells us, “Women like five good-byes. Guys, no: ‘See ya!’”
Fiction-writers Alan Steinberg and John Brantingham have the strongest pieces in the magazine. Steinberg’s “The Aspen Flasher” is about a member of the ski patrol who encounters a “flasher,” i.e. a man in his thirties or forties trying to hide his age by pushing himself too hard on the slopes. Unfortunately flashers usually also boost their egos by pushing their companions—sometimes, as in Steinberg’s story, with tragic results.
Brantingham’s “The Phone Call” is also about an aging man playing his last prank call on his ex-wife while remembering similar ones during their marriage. It’s a sad but thoughtful story—one of the sort that readers might hold like a worry-stone when ruminating about their own past relationships. Also, it provokes ruminations on the lost art of prank calls at the same time Snail Mail Review itself provokes nostalgia on the lost pleasures of postal mail.
The editors of Snail Mail Review combine a quirky concept with good taste and online advertising sense. It will be fun to watch their magazine quickly grow.