Sorrow, loss and grief are recurring themes among the solid fiction in this issue of The Louisville Review. In Amy Tudor’s “Mourning Cloak,” a parent mourns the loss of a still-born child. Troy Ehlers’s “The Tide of Night” is a character study of a Vietnam Vet grappling with a traumatic past. Equally sad, Cate McGowan’s “How Can You Title Longing” skillfully weaves poetry and narrative as a shopper at a flea market finds an old book of poems. The story alternates between the present day and yesteryear scenes from the life of the poet.
The strongest of the lot was Benjamin Chambers’s “Falling” which describes longing and lust with a poetically visceral quality that hits you in the gut. The narrator, who alternates between the first and second person, catalogues his past lovers, one of whom dies in a car crash. The grief-stricken narrator writes, “This is how it is: the loneliness lives with you. Unpacks its suitcases. Sells off your belongings at a garage sale while you wait for likely candidates to present themselves. Sometimes the waitress will give you a direct glance. Or it’ll be a woman at work who wears stockings you like.”
If I had one critique of The Louisville Review, it is that the poetry, fiction and nonfiction are published in uninterrupted blocks, so that the first 50 pages are comprised of verse, the next 50 by fiction and so on. The problem with such an approach is that it isn’t very browser friendly. I prefer it when journals mix it up so that the reader can discover a poem or story he or she might have normally skipped over. The Louisville Review also publishes plays, as well as poetry and prose by children (K-12).