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The Bellingham Review - Volume 27

Numbers 1&2 Issue 54

Spring/Fall 2004

"Terrific" is how contest judge Robert Wrigley classifies the 49th Parallel Award-winning poem by Simone Muench, but this assessment could certainly apply to this whole special double issue. Sophisticated and polished, the work here (poems, stories, essays, interviews, Forrest Gander's comments on work by Cole Swenson, and Lucia Perillo's writing about photos by Scott Chambers) is never casual, yet it remains consistently accessible and, in the best sense, readable. The 49th Parallel award-winning story by Natalie Serber, "A Whole Weekend of My Life," is especially satisfying. In fact, contest judge Rebecca Brown says it "took her breath away" with its surprising and original approach to the "estranged single parent story." Serber creates a narrator with a highly likeable voice and has a masterful sense of pace and timing. This issue includes three other good stories, too, by Amalia Gladhart, Sue Fagalde Lick, and Guy A. Marco. Interviews with Russel Banks, Lucia Perillo, and Michael Collins are, by turns, instructive and entertaining. The interview with Banks is particularly worthwhile, with its focus on class issues in Banks' fiction. Cole Swenson contributes four exquisite poems, including the spare and lovely "The Hand as Origami." And it is imperative to mention photographs of the Northwest by Manual Cesar Solis, Jr. — more work to take one's breath away. [Bellingham Review, MS 9053, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225. E-mail: . Single issue $7.] – SR

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Review Posted on June 30, 2004

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