This venerable journal (it has been around for more than 50 years) can be relied upon for excellent short fiction, and this issue is no exception. Lydia Peelle’s “Mule Killers” and M. Allen Cunningham’s “Crustacean” are both evocative and nostalgic – “Mule Killers” evokes the farming past of the speaker’s family, and “Crustacean” about a man trying to keep his crumbling family from falling apart. The few poems sprinkled throughout the issue provide tonal counterpoints for the stories, which means the editor put some thought into how to position these pieces together. For instance, the poem “Revival” by Jody Winer-Cook describes a museum exhibit of stone snake-tongue-carved knives and how the speaker responds to it:
…We all wonder about the weapon—
how quickly it slips from the serpent’s jaws,
when last used, on whom.
Drought, dust, global roast.
I haven’t known lust in months.
My own sharp tongue has destroyed plenty.
The adjoining story, Neela Vaswani’s “The Pelvis Series,” describes a woman scientist’s exploration of bones and language. This journal is a rewarding read, intelligently edited. [Epoch, 251 Goldwin Smith Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y. 14853. Single issue $5. http://www.arts.cornell.edu/english/epoch.html] – JHG