Far more than a survey of literary Louisiana, this university journal collects fiction and poetry from West Virginia to the Ozarks. Perfect-bound in a firm, glossy cover as arresting as any book, though more scholarly-looking than most lit mags, each issue comes crowned with a striking color photograph. If the cover is the front door, the photo is the welcome mat, so come on in.
Rita Welty Bourke’s very short story, “See Ya, Charlie,” features an aging widow who, fresh from a small town mental institution, prepares for her social worker’s arrival. In Rosemary Magee’s “The Old Highway of Love,” a reclusive South Carolina painter, tantalized by gossip fed by her housekeeper, succumbs to a basic voyeuristic impulse and gets wrapped up in her elderly neighbor’s drama. “Lizard Wizardry: A Reverie” is a quirky, meditative essay weaving reptilian ecology with raw emotionality. After returning to her native Louisiana from cold, gray Iowa, Sheryl St. Germain finds herself contemplating a green anole in a forest of water oak and sweetgum, comforted by the smothering humidity. “It’s a signal that I’m home,” she says, “and the heat is family.” Sign of a true native, but it’s a painful homecoming as well.
Kevin Stuart writes a very convincing female narrator in his story, one plagued by drunken car wrecks and reformed ex-husbands, and Shell Teague’s “Feeling the Burn” steps back into a time when Coca-Cola was still an exquisitely unfamiliar taste. In addition to fiction, this issue packs plenty of poetry and three extended book reviews.
You’re more likely to find this journal in university libraries’ reading rooms than bookstore shelves, but if you’re a fan of Southern writing, LL is well worth tracking down.