The Fall 2006 issue of Eclipse is a dark one. Death is the most prevalent subject, followed by tragedy and despair. Not a magazine to be read all in one sitting if you’re susceptible to depression. Taken one at a time, though, the stories and poems here are refreshing and thought-provoking.
In a world dominated by free verse, it’s nice to see so much formal poetry in a literary magazine. I counted eight honest-to-goodness sonnets, and several almost-sonnets. Marie Candice adds something extra in “She Searches Seashells…,” rhyming the last word of each line with the first word of the next line. The effect is mesmerizing. Wendell Hawken’s poem, “The Mare Has Broken Loose Again,” is written in an Old English verse form based on consonance and four beat lines: “wet nights // wakes the wakeful.” And Fred Yannantuono’s “The Evil of Two Lessers,” provides comic relief with playful end rhymes, such as “Instead I drank a bottle of merlot / And voted for Perot.”
On the other hand, many of the stories in this issue could be described as experimental. “The Art of Breathing” by Michele Melnick and “When Hope is Terrible” by Kathie Giorgio are both two-and-a-half page second person monologues. David LeMaster begins his story, “Jesus, Richard Nixon and a Large Brown Dog,” with this irresistible statement: “My name is Noel Cain, and I am dead – well, Noel is dead. I’ve come back to earth as a large brown dog.” Beth Franks’s “The Girl with the Fine Blue Line” is a story of breakup, narrated by the woman of the couple, and footnoted by the man. For readers who prefer a more traditional story, there are several of these as well, all of them well-crafted, touching and tragic.
If you’re in the mood to ponder the darker side of things, I would definitely recommend this issue of Eclipse on a lonely evening with a bottle of wine.