Okay, maybe it's not an issue for most, but I'm a sucker for fonts. Ever picked up a lit mag and thought, “Good content, but it looks awful on the page”? A good lit mag isn't just about content, it's about presentation. And Mississippi State's Jabberwock Review is a brilliant example of just how much quality production can do for a magazine: the cover photo is austere, the pages are nice and thick, and, yes, the font is nice.
In this case, outer appearances reflect the beauty within. Equal parts fiction and poetry, with a collection of art and a few poignant nonfiction essays for good measure, Jabberwock Review leans toward innovative writing but ultimately is rooted in the traditional.
In Lenny Levine's mystery, “Tales from the Cryptic,” a puzzle solver discovers he's been inadvertently pedaling a deadly sleeping pill, and his mind begins to unravel as those around him struggle to keep up with his cryptic clues. Another spotlight feature is “Dyads,” by Jacob M. Appel, a story about a restless woman who ferries a conservationist and his daughter to a whale nesting spot to conduct research. Told with well-observed clarity, it explores the nature of parent-child relationships in the face of both adversity and ennui.
The poetry here is uniformly short and cleanly written, two features I admire and seek out in poetry. Robert Parham's, “Lessons After Dust,” is a fine example, vibrating with sensuality and grit at the same time:
We walk upon the flinty gravel
that sparks against the night
oh we will not be firewalkers yet
as the elms bend down to kiss
where the shadows were, those feet
that begin where light leaves off
My only qualm with the overall package is that the art in the middle of the book is not full color and looks as if it was printed out by a bubble jet circa 2000. A minor detail maybe, could be I'm just anal, but what might have originally been bold visual art seems stifled by the muted tones and the slight pixilation.
All in all, Jabberwock Review holds up as top-notch reading and is recommended for any literature-seekers with a penchant for first-rate writing, moving stories, and a font that means business.