I recognized only two names in the Table of Contents, Nahid Rachlin and Simon Perchik. Yet, even a quick glance at the Contributors’ Notes lets me know that most of the 16 fiction writers, three nonfiction writers, and more than two-dozen poets whose work appears here have substantial publishing credits. Despite the popular notion that people don’t read and the literary world is suffering, languishing, or on the decline, there are so many journals of all kinds, and so many people writing and publishing, it is difficult to keep up with them all. Gander Press Review, published by Loosey Goosey Press in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is doing its part to keep small press publishing thriving.
The most exceptional or unusual piece is a short essay by Adeline Scout, one of the few writers in the issue whose bio lists no publishing credits at all. The editor’s note that precedes her short essay, “Naked on Charrette,” explains: “When I received this article (written under a pseudonym), I was both intrigued and a bit suspicious. But the author’s story has been verified. While I certainly cannot condone some of her actions, I found her writing to be instructive in what occurs within the correctional system as well as the mind and family of the incarcerated.” The story is odd, disturbing, and, as the editor says, intriguing and makes a valuable contribution to “prison literature.”
Another terrific prose contribution is Anne Walls’s story, “No Pink,” with its successful anaphoric structure (“I hate licking envelopes; I hate shopping; I hate the way I looked in junior high school; I hate dealing with florists; I hate paper cuts; I hate the first few minutes of any social gathering; I love the feeling of being everywhere and nowhere all at the same time; I love how everything looks after it rains, etc.). Readable, engaging, original.
A poem by Jean Paul Ferro, “Letter from a Soldier,” brought me to tears:
But I am just a little bit broken,
broke in all the right places –
a million little jewels that split apart
all across the ground
And I found myself wanting more from Taylur Thu Hien Hgo whose prose poems “The Somnambulist Journal” and “Memoir” moved and impressed me with their deceptively simple language. These are powerful pieces with the capacity to lead a reader from complacency to great emotion.
What most of the pieces in this journal have in common is movement toward the unexpected or unanticipated – surprises, twists, a quirky turn of events or resolution. The same could be said of the relationship between the journal’s cover, an almost fairy-tale like drawing of a goose (or is it a gander?) and two geese perched on a book, and the journal’s contents.