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The Gettysburg Review - Winter 2008

  • Issue Number: Volume 21 Number 4
  • Published Date: Winter 2008
  • Publication Cycle: Quarterly

The Washington Post once accused this journal of “carrying literary elitism to new, and annoying, heights,” and TGR proudly uses this quote in their advertising. Under the expert guidance of editor Peter Stitt, they have been consistently presenting high level fiction, nonfiction, poetry, criticism, and art for many years. I have always been particularly attracted to the poetry, which ranges from the lyrical and evocative to the audacious.

In the latest edition, Floyd Collins shows his versatility by giving us a rough and ready poem about a duel between Jim Bowie and Norris Wright in the year 1827, and then follows it up with another poem entitled “Cannonade,” with the opening lines: “The sun’s warm benefice thaws brittle frost / A glaze of lacy ferns and white flowers / Melting in a slather down cottage panes.” Christopher Howell gives us history and mystery: “Rain again. Sir Francis Drake / turns up the ruffled collar of his coat. / No bloody chance of a carriage / anywhere in London at this hour.” And then there are the lilting opening lines of Linda Pastan's “Boundaries”: “In Monet’s Water Lilies, / willows dissolve into / flowers dissolve into water, / and form becomes a dream / in purples and blues / without scent or story.”

Kathryn Starbuck writes an excellent essay of a dysfunctional family entitled “My Mother’s Theories of Child Rearing,” which describes a brutal upbringing in somewhat dispassionate terms. Priscilla Long’s essay, “Solitude,” extols the virtues of aloneness without loneliness, and begins with a quote by Thomas Merton, followed by the sentence: “Solitude is delicious.”

In the fiction section, Harry Haines’s “Bodies at Rest” details the downward spiral of the marriage and life of a “mildly alcoholic” CEO of a small ad agency. There are also eight pages of starkly realistic art by Paul Fenniak, plus an essay of his work by Shannon Egan.

Several honorable mentions should be made here. The Gettysburg Review likes to publish new and fledgling writers, and most issues contain the work of several people with relatively modest credits. This is a policy that all major literary journals should consider adopting. Also, getting a two-year subscription here at the rate of forty-nine dollars must be one of the great bargains in the literary world today. That’s thirteen hundred plus pages of good stuff for the price of one dinner for two at a modest restaurant. C’est incredible!

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Review Posted on February 15, 2009

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