Slice highlights lies and make-believe in its newest issue and overflows with engaging poetry, spectacular fiction, smart nonfiction, and insightful interviews with Ray Bradbury and Isabel Allende among others. Where to begin? What to highlight?
An international/cultural theme can be seen in many of the pieces. This trend is perhaps even more noticeable than the issue’s professed theme, lies and make-believe. “How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the (North) Koreans,” a short nonfiction piece by Patricia Park, talks about the Korean jung, “an unbridled sense of warm-heartedness,” and where the author finally found it:
I also never imagined I’d be sitting around a fire with North Koreans, drinking homemade acorn liquor. I was on a fishing boat off the eastern coast when I said hello to a group of locals. They evaluated me—my Korean(ish) face, my American sneakers—and just when I expected to be met with a dismissive grunt, one of the men pushed a clam into my hand. It was char-grilled, as meaty as beef.
The essay takes the outsider narrative to a country that is itself an outsider and Park finds acceptance there as a Korean.
Another piece with international leanings is the short story “The Nature of My Father’s Crimes” by Jan Pendleton. In this story, Naomi must help her newly released father settle back into life after being imprisoned for sexual offenses. She finds friendship and understanding with her father’s new neighbor, an Indian widow, Geeta:
Geeta led the way along the produce aisle that stretched the length of the store, a refrigerated shelf holding a mix of vegetables and herbs, some of them unfamiliar. Indian women dressed in Western clothes passed by with their carts. There was a lethargy in their movements, even the young beautiful ones, their faces heavy with makeup. They seemed burdened by shopping, the hours of preparation ahead, their husbands perhaps critical. “You must try this one,” Geeta said, reaching for a thick, prickly vegetable shaped like a pickle. Running her fingers over the nubbed surface she said, “You take off the skin then cut in small pieces.” Reddish dirt clung to the milky roots of curly-leaved herb she’d tasted in Geeta’s kitchen. “You are washing them first. Everything must be washed before eating.”
This story, like all of the fiction in this issue, drags you in and along, entertains you and makes you pause and wonder at the implications of a daughter so devoted to a man guilty of such crimes. The prose feels so complete and the piece is a great example of story-telling at its best.
Also in this issue, and in keeping with an international trend, is an interview with Isabel Allende, author of the new novel Island Beneath the Sea. Allende discusses her inspirations, writing habits, and her past as romance novel translator.
I have the perfect space for writing: a little house in my backyard—warm, private, luminous, silent... It is perfect but not really indispensible. I wrote The House of the Spirits at night on the kitchen counter in an apartment in Caracas; Of Love and Shadows in a closet; The Stories of Eva Luna in a car and in coffee shops. To be able to write I only need time and silence.
Finally, if you only read one piece from this entire issue, you must read “Good People” by Nick Ripatrazone, a short story about Aaron and Erin, a couple who run an apple orchard/motel, whose quiet life is disturbed by possible prostitute, Nicholle. The story, so simple, has many small moments: “Everyone who loves anyone, Erin said, loses their identity.”