Jersey Devil Press celebrates their fiftieth issue, and they even made a playlist to accompany it, with a song pairing for each of these intriguing stories.
Jacob Euteneuer’s “Ash Wednesday” reads much like a narrative poem, calm and melodic. The narrator speaks to what seems to be his girlfriend about the day that her body slowly turned to dust, “like the sand in Jamaica . . . Fine and white.” And though the danger of losing her is immediate, the piece reads as very intimate with the narrator’s concern for his love:
It was you that was crumbling in the heat of the sun and taken away by the wind. I didn’t know when it would stop or if it would, but what I kept thinking about was what I would do when you were gone. Where could I get the glue that could piece together the billion tiny fragments of you that were scattered around our house, around the car, and all over the trail?
Charlie Harmon’s piece is the classic story of a fox outsmarting another wild animal, in this case, a tiger. But what makes the story compelling is the characters they come across in the story: characters from classic children’s stories, but not the way you remember them. At one point, they come across two of the pigs standing amidst the blown-down straw house, missing their brother: “‘Listen, man,’ said the one in the apron, ‘I love Iggy as much as you do—he’s our baby brother—but he’s also an unreliable piece of shit. I mean, who builds a house out of straw?’”
Instances get more unconventional as the journal goes on. For example, the character in h.l. nelson’s piece grows gills and must attach a fish bowl to his head to breathe. But his girlfriend doesn’t dig the new look.
Also hosting the pages of this 50th issue are Andra Skaalrud and Mark A. Rayner. I heard you’ve been invited to the party, so search YouTube for the songs, turn up the music, and get reading (if you can manage to do both at the same time).