1. The article by J. Madison Davis: "The Idiotically Criminal Universe of the Brothers Cohen."
2. The special section of flash nonfiction featuring works by Brian Doyle, Josey Foo, Lia Purpura, Vikram Kapur, and Dmitry Samarov.
3. The "Suite of Contempory Ethiopean Poetry" with Misrak Terefe, Abebaw Melaku, Mihret Kebede, Eric Ellingsen, and David Shook.
And my two runner-ups: "Storytelling, Fake Worlds, and the Internet" by Elif Shafak and "Ping-Pong: or, Writing Together" by Sergio Pitol. And everything else in between. But I did say I would pick three to number.
"When Desire Can't Find Its Object" by Margaret Osburn earned an honorable mention. Haigh writes that this work "depicts a meeting between old friends: a young draft dodger on a vision quest, and Iris, his best friend's mother, who is not long for this world. In supple, elastic prose, it telegraphs - in seven short pages - a curious love story, a brief interlude that illumines an entire life."
[Cover Art: "WC4173, 2010" by Ann Ropp]
The newest issue of Mississippi Review (42.3), besides having a pretty swank cover image, is The Novella Issue, featuring works by only four authors: Katie Chase (46pp), Kevin A. Gonzalez (62pp), Jaimy Gordon (28pp), and Paola Peroni (25pp). Rare to see this kind of page dedication to the long form in an entire issue, making this a great collection for the long read.
In his Editor's Note, "Making What Matters," Stewart shares, "In my home city recently, a 10-year-old girl named Machole and a 6-year-old girl named Angel, in separate events, were shot dead by gunfire. Machole was in her own living room when someone in a car shot several times into her house; Angel was walking out the door of a convenience store with her father. Other children continue to suffer abuse and violence, yes, but these two events, nine days apart, have caused many people here to examine the kind of landscape—city and country—we have shaped for our children."
Go to the National Art Education Association News page on any given day, and you'll see comment after comment from leaders across the nation proclaiming the importance of the arts in education, of turning and keeping the A in STEM for STEAM. It's not a new struggle among cultures, among communiites, as Stewart notes the Trappist monk Thomas Merton "in a 1962 letter, where he confessed to being disheartened by evil in the world, despite his own writings and art. 'Tell me,' Merton wrote to his friend, "am I wasting my time?'"
It's a question and concern that pervades and surfaces, resurfaces, confronts and confounds wirters, artists, educators, politician and policy makers. While Stewart answers the question in his commentary, an answer found through reading the works of authors in the journal and concluding on the worth and value of their efforts. A worth and value we need to retain and remind others of every chance we get.
The Symbiotic Relationship Between Movies and Books: "While it's hardly novel to suggest that Hollywood is out of ideas, 2014 hasn't done much to prove otherwise. Of the top 10 grossing films released last year, every single one was inspired by a pre-existing media property like a novel, a comic book, or—in two cases—a line of toys." (The Atlantic)
Don't like your personality? Try reading a novel. Reasearchers "propose that there are specific ways in which fiction can engage readers in ways that enhance important personality qualities.. . . all other things being equal, people who read more fiction are also better at reading other people's emotions. It's not just that empathic people read more, but that reading promotes empathy." (Psychology Today)
Satre told the Nobel Committee he would say no, only they didn't get the memo. History shows he was true to his (late-arriving) word. (The Guardian)