Chagrin River Review, now in its third issue, publishes fiction and poetry, leaning toward the more traditional styles, nothing extremely experimental or flashy, just good writing.
The first fiction piece, Mark Jacobs’s “Notes Toward a Revised Definition of Myself,” is all about power. After her husband cheats on her, Felicity must decide what to do and how to handle her hurt. Throughout the piece, she takes notes for a piece of nonfiction that she will write:
“All the notes I’ve been taking, the things I’m seeing. They have to do with power. Who has it, and who doesn’t. How it makes people behave.”
You like being in charge, Karl had said. But that was not quite right. She liked seeing how things worked, she liked understanding. But she did not care to be in charge of anyone, not even her own wayward self.
But even the way the piece is written is about power as the narrator writes about herself in the third person, distancing herself from her story—perhaps as a way to try to take control of her own life.
In Rod Siino’s “Smooth,” the symbolism throughout of chapstick was rather heavy and a little too much, but it pays off with an ending that really works: a great scene where Dave coats himself in tubes of his wife’s chapstick then goes out into the rain, protected. Ultimately, he peals it off with his fingernails, exposing himself, and yelling “let it in.”
Trish Hopkinson’s “Footnote to a Footnote” is a list of holy things, but they aren’t what you may initially imagine. “Jacuzzis are holy. / Garage door openers are holy. / Back-up cameras and recycle bins—all holy,” it begins. The delight in reading it is the language and sounds as well as the surprising “holy” elements. And in Jay Robinson’s “Home Movies,” the short lines move quickly as the narrator remembers “snuff films,” noting that “Someday . . . someone / is going to watch these // and write a PhD thesis / in disappearing ink.”
And while based out of Ohio, and publishing works with Ohio connections, Chagrin River Review could easily be from any other city in the country, focusing more on the good writing than on the author’s connections.