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Fringe - Spring 2010

  • Issue Number: Issues 20, 21, 22
  • Published Date: Fall 2009, Winter 2010, Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly

This lit mag has a manifesto: “We worry about the state of modern literature. We worry that it’s too realist, monolithic, corporate, print-bound and locked in its own bubble…We think literature is a place to safely explore controversial and unpleasant topics and unfamiliar points of view.” Online magazine websites are vastly different in structure, and I found this one a bit difficult to negotiate in the beginning, but there are many gems to be discovered.

The fiction varies a great deal in style and subject matter. I liked “Hunters” by Kate Russell, an arresting story about a widow who lives alone in the far reaches of the Maine woods and rents out a house by the lake to hunters. She watches with detachment as they bumble around, and she waits for the inevitable tragedy, which occurs. “The Last Moonshiner” by Lydia Ship is about a visit to Appalachia to see Popcorn Sutton, the last moonshiner, who is notoriously ornery, lives in a wooden shack, is dying of cancer, chain smokes, and greets people with a sign that says, “No Smoking Outside.” She gets on his good side by wearing a goat suit (??) and bringing him lots of Pall Malls.

In the nonfiction, Amy Clark’s “Someone Else’s Ivy” is so entertaining I thought it was fiction. It’s about her term as a “professional milk steamer” in a café in Harvard Square, Cambridge, the variety of kids she supervised, the management, and the staff’s contentious disagreements with the powers-that-be. In the section labeled “Criticism” Reshma Melwani writes a thorough and scathing indictment in “Education as Alienation” of the European colonial educational system in Africa. He lists a number of books on the subject and concludes, “‘Educating’ the Africans, to the colonizers, meant stripping these once well adjusted people of their identities, and filling their minds with doubt and dislike for their own culture.”

Besides these four categories, there is also poetry, “longer poetry,” art, something called “(de)Classified,” and “Vintage Fringe.” I also can’t resist mentioning their blog which recently offered “Taking Note” by Jill D, about an article in The New Yorker concerning the marginalia (notes and underlinings scrawled in books) of such luminaries as Jack Kerouac and William Coleridge, as found in the New York Public Library’s collection.

This is an active, lively website with new material presented all the time and archival literature easily accessible. Give it a quick exploration and perhaps you’ll linger a while, and return.

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Review Posted on July 15, 2010

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