Slice Magazine is a high-quality production with a layout that is both stimulating and friendly to the eye. The inaugural issue appropriately takes shape around the theme of firsts and new beginnings. Jonathan Galassi, president of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, shares a short but moving account of how books being present during his childhood left “ineradicable interfused impressions” on him.
Fiction begins with Connie H. Zhu’s “Lacy,” about an Asian art student in Oregon from Shanghai dealing with her new life while attempting to carve a place for herself in American culture and art culture. In co-editor Maria Gagliano’s story, “Hearing Ilaria,” the isolated narrator becomes obsessed with listening to her neighbor’s life beyond the wall separating their apartments while searching for the courage and the opportunity to make contact somehow with someone. The narrator in Paul D’Agostino’s “Legerdemain and Not” lays out the pieces of his and his family’s past, incomplete as it is, in an attempt to both understand the present and find a way to live in it. I particularly enjoyed Tim Mucci’s three short-short stories, each with its own ominous atmosphere and elements moving toward their visceral, violent, and seemingly inevitable collisions. Poetry includes fine work by Tom Haushalter, Warren Weathers, Elizabeth Blachman, and Michael Kovacs.
Maria Gagliano interviews Junot Diaz about his beginnings as a writer. Diaz talks about his unique vantage point as a Dominican immigrant growing up in New Jersey. “I knew I wasn’t from a major literary center,” Diaz says, “so instead of fighting that I thought – let’s just go the opposite route. Make the Elsewhere into a Somewhere.” When asked about his writing process, Diaz says, “I write a chapter or a story because something’s gnawing at me. Ain’t usually until the tenth draft that I have any idea what it is.”
Later, Celia Blue Johnson conducts an insightful interview with Manuel Munoz, whose short story collection The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue was shortlisted for the 2007 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize. Munoz talks about his beginnings as a writer and the difficulty he encountered trying to get his work published in a time (not long ago) when editors were not willing to risk the bottom line to publish gay Chicano short fiction. Munoz offers this advice to aspiring writers: “Read as much and as widely as you can [. . .] Be respectful of other writers. Nothing dissuades me more from reading an author’s work than to find them lacking in generosity to others. [. . .] It’s a poisonous way to go about writing, seeing it as a competition. Be patient and keep trying.”
Slice Magazine has put together a fine debut issue, and I look forward to what Issue 2 has to offer. Definitely keep an eye on this magazine.