Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary defines “upstreet” as “toward the higher part of a street; as to walk upstreet.” That’s a fitting definition for this up-and-coming journal with a sleek, minimalist design. Coming in at over 230 pages, this issue of Upstreet is jam-packed with quality fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and an interview with Michael Martone.
Among the fiction, what stood out for me was John Abbott’s “The King” which is written with crystal clear concision. The story enters the perspective of a young boy dressed as Elvis for Halloween. The story’s ending resists easy interpretation and keeps the reader guessing. Molly Ritvo’s short short “April 4, 1968,” describes the day Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated with eerie and foreboding elegance.
The photograph accompanying the interview with Michael Martone depicts the author holding a white keyboard like a musical instrument. He had a lot of interesting things to say regarding MFA programs; namely that they teach people not necessarily how to become better writers but how to be critics. He also says that MFA programs can take a lot of the joy out of writing so that when people come out of the program they feel like failures. Many of his points are illustrated in the fascinating nonfiction piece “Hermes Goes to College” which was delivered at a recent AWP conference for a panel on “Bending Genre.” “What we don’t worry well enough,” he writes, “is the category of category, the genre of genre.”