The highlight of this issue of Umbrella Factory was definitely the very first piece, Kristin Faatz’s “The Guardian.” I can sometimes get sick of stories from the perspective of children because I’m often bothered by the language of it or the way that their perspective doesn’t add to the story. But Faatz does an excellent job of allowing us to sympathize with the main character, Leah, and her thoughts seem to mirror a child’s quite well. Written as a close third-person and broken into sections, I was hooked as the story developed into one where Leah has broken a picture frame of her mother and her father, her father which “left” them years ago. The narrative shows how this child understands her world and how she is able to cope with the pain she has already had to endure at such a young age. But because it is written in the third person, we are able to step outside her world for a moment and see what happened to make her father leave, the story she doesn’t know about. The sections were excellently woven together to build very round characters and a round story.
The poetry is somewhat darker. Stephanie Dickinson contributes poems in which adolescence is painted as a dark and unsettling period of life. In her prose poem, she writes that
Independence is the grin the old man gives slapping his lap where he’s asking you to sit, against his chest mat of salt and pepper, a one-breasted woman tattoo . . . the taste in your mouth like ground where a deer has bled out, the gin going down soft as bloodshot silk, it’s every fourteen year old on the run, your pink blouse with white flower, the missing pearl button
Alisha Kaplan’s “The Dance Floor” creates an animalistic environment at a dance, starting, “I want to eat you, hiss the eyes of insatiable animal / Eyes that claim her, claim to know her, want to know her / The pursuit beginning she hides in the floor that stops fall.”
To round out the issue there is more poetry from Dickinson, Kaplan, and Timothy Kercher as well as a piece of prose by Ben East. While the poets have publication experience, the contributing fiction writers are new to the publication world. In fact, this is Faatz’s first publication. It’s great to see when a new magazine can publish a new writer and when both of those ventures can turn into something exciting and propelling to read.