Fiction rules in this issue of the Greensboro Review. Not to say that the poetry failed to capture my attention, but the stellar stories strung together here hooked me from the first, “The Drift Line” by Charlotte O'Donnell. It's a tale of preteen female friendship, with the complexities of that friendship's dynamics laid bare on a rocky shoreline:
Here in this moment, escaped from time, a piece of me will live forever. I will break through the surface of the water and become like sea mist. And when I float past Anne Marie she will not see me but I will brush against her cheek and she will shiver. And when it is over the world will turn to bubbles all around me and I will feel as if I am breaking open in the light.
Emily Gilbert opens the lives of teenage girls even wider with her winning Robert Watson Literary Prize Story, “Thank God We're Young Otherwise This Would Be Terrifying.” Here, three friends fritter away the summer days and experience the first awful pangs of “love” at the hands of drug-dealing bad boys. It's so honest, it almost hurts to read. The vivid descriptions wipe away any need to imagine:
The girls have French-braided hair. It escapes in wisps around their faces and their lips smell like strawberries. They wear denim skirts and foam sandals that make sucking noises when they walk. They keep close together through the crowds of people. Their skin is smooth and covered in glitter.
Leaving adolescence behind, the final story presents a twisted tableau of unraveling marital infidelity. Set in Amsterdam, Ian Mackenzie's “Late Quartet” makes a strong case for avoiding run-ins with old college roommates. Over the course of a night, an American businessman is inadvertently drawn into an ugly domestic situation orchestrated by an acquaintance he hasn't seen in over twenty years.
Several of the poems in this issue likewise seared their marks on me. The first line of Willie Lin's “The Gods Must Not Know Us” felt like the shock of cold water splashing on my face: “The story is what it has always been, we grow / sick of ourselves. It is summer again.” And F. Daniel Rzicznek pens perhaps one of the most poignant sentences of the issue in “from Leafmold”:
of you at home is with me all the while I'm here: you open
and close doors, you stand in my eyes, look out and see what I see,
you test my ear and toss a pail of water to the lawn, and we're
together: one within the other and both looking inward to our
Finally, just pages from the close of the issue, Mark Jay Brewin Jr.'s “The Root Whiskers” evokes childhood memories of grand days in the woods followed by cleaning off what was left behind in the evening: “Crawling in the brush by day, washing the beard of dirt / off my face by evening. And the sunset scoring through the sliding glass doors, and the sunset covering the whole world.”