The population of the Buckeye State is famously diverse, blending urban and rural, conservative and progressive. This diversity of perspectives is reflected in Issue 8 of the New Ohio Review. The editors eschew an opening comment, allowing the poetry, fiction and nonfiction to speak for itself.
The lively prose in Patrick Hicks’ “Living with the Dead” carries the reader through the story of a young man whose family runs a funeral home. Though surrounded by death (particularly the passing of a young woman from his school), Brian has learned that “no one teaches you how to enjoy life better than the dead.” His pursuit of romance in the story seems somehow sweeter when filtered through the perspective of a teenager who understands how very special it is to make a connection with someone who wants to connect with you.
Beth Marzoni’s four poems in the journal earned her second prize for the New Ohio Review’s Prize in Poetry. Her work blends stream-of-consciousness momentum with perceptive social observation, employing a close personal lens to comment upon our national challenges. “Giving the Bird” does this especially well, comparing the country’s partisan discord to the kind found around the dinner table during Thanksgiving. In a way, the comfortable ceremonies of the political realm mimic the yearly retelling of the same family stories.
Irene Keliher’s nonfiction piece “Putting Girls on the Map” deconstructs the image of the antisocial geography bee nerd. Keliher depicts her journey to the national competition as a powerful rite of adolescent passage, leading her to an adult epiphany. The trip laid bare her mother’s dimensions: “powerful, weak, maddening, comforting.”
The issue concludes with a series of seven brief reflections from excellent writers who reconsidered their thoughts regarding significant works of fiction. Particularly interesting is Peter Turchi’s confession of his unashamed affection for Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Turchi celebrates Capote’s charming, masterful diction while reminding the reader that popular culture can be entertaining without being vacuous.
This marriage of the traditional and experimental makes the New Ohio Review a worthy refuge for any literary-minded person and this issue’s combination of genres creates an interesting reading experience.