Sometimes you need some literary chow. Your brain gets to feeling a bit peckish—in need of a good read. If so, this issue of Hunger Mountain will provide you with a veritable reading buffet. Take care that you don’t stuff yourself too quickly.
Using Ray Bradbury’s “The Thing at the Top of the Stairs” as the theme, Hunger Mountain is a cornucopia of verse, fiction and children’s literature topped with a spicy photographic gravy by artist/photographer Heather Gray.
Bradbury’s “Thing at the Top of the Stairs,” for which Bradbury won the Bram Stoker Award in 1988, was inspired by the author’s boyhood fear of waking in the night and having to walk to the bathroom in the darkness and the possibility of confronting the monster that he believed hid in the attic. Likewise, the works presented in here reflect each writer’s deepest fears, making this issue a spookily delicious read.
One of the most fun courses in this literary meal are the “Bradbury Lists” of things that go bump in the night—or simply in the mind—such as this portion of Jedediah Berry’s list poem titled “Wednesday, August 25th, 2010, Catskill, NY”:
the bottom drawer
the back of the closet
the far end of the attic
alone with my parents’ friends
Hunger Mountain sprinkles twenty-one of these savory and spicy list poems strategically throughout the issue, keeping the reader’s blood pumping and mouth watering.
Notable poetry in this issue includes two winners of the 2010 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize: Nancy K. Pearson’s “Opening Day” and “Between Land and Water” by Ashley Seitz Kramer. Other favorites of this reader were “Trucker’s Lament” by Casey Thayer (“Loneliness needles him like a ghost limb / on Sunday nights”) and Jayden Dewald’s “To Penia, With Love”:
It was grim, Brothers Grimm season.
Our flies looked like tiny grim reapers.
We muttered pinkienail blessings over
Our boiled beets and too thin porridge.
A thick blanket of unanswered prayers
Under which, all night, I lay shivering.
It is unusual, but refreshing, for a literary magazine to include Young Adult and Children’s Literature selections. Hunger Mountain includes five fun, thoughtful works, one of which is Jaramy Connors’ 2010 Katherine Paterson Prize-winning story “Steve.” Connors addresses one of the most debilitating fears of a teen in this poignant tale: that of acceptance and the choices one begins to make. Running with the pack or being an individual.
The icing on this literary cake is the photography by Heather Gray. These sensual, thought-provoking works make a statement about the history of women, the fear of domesticity, and the power of the feminine. As a section placed between the sharp flavors of this literary sandwich, Gray’s artistic style adds an amusing note both inside as well as on the cover.
Hunger Mountain offers a variety of flavors, sure to soothe the savage breast of any hungry reader.