Straylight is pure, enjoyable entertainment. It is eclectic enough to satisfy any reader’s mood. This collection of fiction, poetry, an interview, and visual art is pretty darned amazing. At first glance, the selections may seem disjointed, especially for literary magazine readers who have become accustomed to themed collections, or high literary selections. Straylight is just plain fun, and the works that make up this volume are like a colorfully arrayed salad bar where you, Gentle Reader, get to pick the most enticing morsels.
First off, Straylight is visually pleasing, filled with vibrant, two-dimensional art and photography depicting three-dimensional pieces. From the graphic-novelesque cover art by mixed-media artist Lisa Bilgalke, to prints by Andrea Mercadillo, Robert W. Andersen, and Spencer Karczewski, among others, to pottery, photography and fine art. These thoughtful choices enhance the writing within. They stimulate the reader’s imagination and give Straylight a whole arts feel.
The fiction selections represent some fine story-telling: “Wyoming,” Rebecca Shepard’s story of longing; Jody A. Forrester’s “Beverly Hills,” an acerbic commentary on the shallowness of the culture of the rich and famous; and “Cherry Bombs” by Lawrence F. Farrar, a coming-of-age story, rich with beautifully developed characters.
The poetry presented in this issue is artsy and emotional, presenting the perfect foil for the magazine’s art selections. Mark Jackley offers a precise and perfect picture in his miniscule poem, “Kathleen”:
I saw a woman walking down the street,
twirling bags of groceries. End of a summer storm.
I remember when I loved you. It was beautiful, precious,
a bit illegal, and the city shone.
Ian William’s timely poem “Out of Work” is a stark piece of social commentary:
Seeing his skin, stretched transparent
like plastic over a Styrofoam meat tray,
and the striation of his muscles, an illustration
from an anatomy text book,
Job’s wife suggests
he root around a high-end dumpster, then gives him
details as if she had done it before…
Finally, the magazine is rounded out with an insightful and interesting interview of Seattle-based poet Dorine Jennette, author of Urchin to Follow, published by The National Poetry Review Press (2010), as well as several informative literary reviews of such works as Incendiary by Chris Cleave, and Pandora’s Succession by Russell Brooks.
Straylight offers diversity and panache—interweaving the visual with the cerebral. It is a perfect fit for the reader who enjoys a variety of styles and offerings.