This issue’s theme is “bridges and views,” introduced by a stunning and unusual cover photo that merges beautifully the concept of bridge and view – the relationship of structure to perspective. The image does not have the appearance of stock photography, though I was unable to find a reference to the photographer. These are, of course, rich, provocative, and perhaps even favorite topics for artists from all disciplines and genres.
I appreciate, above all, the mature and serious sensibility of the work in this issue. I had been reading a lot of fun, entertaining, wise-ass work (some of which was quite enjoyable and quite smartly crafted) just prior to delving into the Notre Dame Review, and the sheer no-nonsense-ness of the writing was an enormous relief. The editors’ expansive editorial approach allows for a range of modes and styles, narrative, lyric, inventive/experimental (though not wildly so), which is also refreshing. (I did not have the feeling I was reading one poem with two-dozen variations for the whole of the journal.) I liked especially poems by Gaylord Brewer, Brian Swann, Deborah Pease, Leslie Ullman, and a series of fascinating poems from “Shuffle” by John Shoptaw about the largest earthquake in North American history in Madrid, Missouri, poems with lines so long the editors have wisely chosen to print the poems horizontally.
Poetry overshadows the fiction in this issue in terms both of size and impact, though the stories presented here (by Sandy Candy, R.D. Skillings, Ed Falco, Jarrett Haley, and Helena Fitzgerald) are solid and readable with appealing, unforced voices. This issue also includes interviews with Irish poet Ciaran Carson, American writer Mary Karr, Indian novelist and poet Anita Nair, and American novelist and memoirist A.M. Holmes. I was happy to read Carson’s response to a question about translation which leads him to discuss experimentation, remarks which seem true of the work in this issue: “I never knew where I was going until I got there. Which should be the way with all writing. If you know what you are going to say, there’s no fun in it. Why write what you know?” That’s a view for which I’m grateful.