I have never lived in the South (aside from the first two years of my life in Texas, which doesn’t count), and I certainly don’t know anything about Alabama, but this Birmingham-based magazine that strives to “provide a vehicle through which Alabama artists and artists from elsewhere can connect and find common ground” doesn’t seem foreign. In fact, it accomplishes its goal of uniting writers to a common ground.
In the fiction section, I most enjoyed Lindsey Walker’s “The Bone Picker,” in which a first-person narrator observes a widow (the bone picker) and her relationship with a man. Short, it is a snapshot of a life and builds great lines such as, “He realizes her eyes aren’t trophies, but catchers’ mitts.”
Peter Fraser’s “Len Beastly Pauses” is a fiction piece in which form and function match. The narrator has seemingly hid himself away, until a person from his past, Len Beastly, locates him. However, Len Beastly is the one who dominates the conversation and the story, telling about all the narrator has missed. The last line of the story says, “And the world just carries on, even when I’m not in the plot.”
Jéanpaul Ferro’s “You Know Too Much About Flying Saucers” starts “I dreamed a hole through her head, where blue / cathode ray spilled out over space and time” and continues with vivid imagery to portray a complicated relationship.
In the poetry section, also make sure you read “The American South” by Danna Molly Weiss, “Gypsy Mary” by P.S. Dean, and “Drawer” by Thomas Alan Holmes.
While there is certainly a setting of the South, the ideas and stories here are universal. Each piece is unique and engaging, making this issue of Steel Toe Review worth reading and spending an afternoon with.