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The Briar Cliff Review - Volume 16

Defying the trade paperback design standard to most literary journals, The Briar Cliff Review is a magazine-size book with thick, glossy paper and an evocative array of crystal-clear full-color artwork scattered throughout. To peruse this journal is an enjoyable sensory experience, and I found myself savoring the pure pleasure induced by the design as much as I savored the contents, which are substantial: 28 poems, 6 stories, 3 nonfiction pieces grouped under the unique heading “Reflective”, 4 articles or exhibits dealing with the “Siouxland” surrounding Briar Cliff’s Sioux City origins, and 3 book reviews. The short stories here are highly literary, somewhat ponderously paced, and ultimately very winning in their shared reluctance to undercut the human mysteries they present. Andrew Schultz’s O’Henry-like story “My Barber, My Wife” somberly explores the multi-faceted nature of fidelity through the life of Guy, a man of routine who one afternoon is lured away from his regular barber appointment by a dancing hairstylist in a nearby shop. Guy’s subsequent romance and marriage to this woman is conveyed in lush and delicately vivid prose and serves as an unlikely but effective motif in exploring a very unlikely but ineffably true conflict. Some of the poetry here is breathtaking, such as a piece entitled “The Magician” by David Allan Evans. Also lovely is the photo essay, “Dakota Hospital for the Insane” by Michael Northrup, a haunting black-and-white journey through the empty spaces of a deteriorating institution. The Briar Cliff Review will reward readers on many levels. [The Briar Cliff Review, Briar Cliff University, 3303 Rebecca St, P.O. Box 2100, Sioux City, IA, 51104. E-mail: . Single issue $12.] – MC

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Review Posted on October 31, 2004

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