The eighth issue of f-magazine: novels in progress and more – came forty two years after the first issue. The subtitle, “Story – Imagining: Departures and Arrivals,” gives a hint of what’s to be found inside. It is commendable to be so bold as to include so many excerpts of developing novels, with all their rough edges intact. For example, “Smoky Mountain National Park” from Where the Angels Are by Anne-Marie Oomen shows great promise. It touchingly juxtaposes a couple’s hike down the Appalachian Trail on the beginning of the second Gulf War, punching the narrator in the gut. She writes, “It is the last time I cry…Oh, let there be angels.” It is also heavy-handed, thinner on story and fatter on message, and very much inside the narrator’s mind. Still, it brings the reader along.
Etgar Keret’s short story, “Gaza War Diary, January ‘09” depicts a writer with angst in the middle of Gaza Strip fighting, which paralyzes him. “My therapist says I need to get a life,” is the dry beginning. It delivers the perfect picture and gnawing feeling of a stalemate inside the writer, along with the war. Sam Weller’s story, “You Know Where You Are?” has the superb authenticity of a memoir. It is warm, quizzical, odd-ball, and sensible. The description manages to draw in the reader with no boundaries, one can forget one is reading a story and just get swept away. “Life After Death” from Marianne Murciano’s Chasing Castro has splendid touches of wit, hilarity, intelligence, irony, and best of all, it’s a great story. It has something to do with honoring one’s parents, letting go, and all the negotiating in-between. The narrator tells, “I have always held the irrational belief that my mother will always be.”
There are many intriguing stories and novel excerpts with modern, relevant themes, such as gay and racial pride, war close-up, the Mexican border, and more. This literary mag is a rare, one-of-a kind publication that dares to deliver high quality finished and unfinished work and give the reader a glimpse of the creative process. Literature lovers should run, not walk when this comes out.