A fascinating feature of this online magazine is that each issue is published “as it comes together,” right before your web-weary eyes. It is a double treat to witness the process as some of the finest poetry, fiction, and art available are assembled; however, that pleasure doubles a reviewer’s troubles. The “emerging” Fall issue waits while I offer a response to the summer issue.
This issue defies critical pretenses and devices. You don’t open this issue; it opens you, and the experience is a synthesis. Colors muffle or amplify sound; whispers make your eyes hurt; scents and flavors conjure visions; and a touch or a glance, even if it fails in its mission, is itself a phenomenon.
Poetry by ma Naryan, Erik Gleiberman, Aleah Sato, Melissa Frederick, Sean Ross, Carolyn Hudson and Kate Buckley divine the beauty, resistant or yielding, in the ordinary or ordinarily terrifying. The simple language and pitch-perfect child’s voice of Gale Acuff’s “If Thy Right Eye Offend Thee” belie the poem’s purity and power. Ross Wade’s poem “I Am Normal and Tall” is not at all short on raw honesty and possesses a beauty that seems to have never glimpsed itself in the mirror.
Otherness is dominant. Stuart Blakesberg’s “Anya” is sharp-eyed fiction about a young Russian woman who marries an American businessman and soon seeks comfort and identity in the “Little Odessa” of Brighton Beach. “Split Feelins,” an aptly titled story by Aaron Gilbreath, takes the reader on a discomfiting train ride with a man whose new iPod presents him an opportunity to confront his fears and isolation, and to consider those of a fellow passenger who wants only “a listen to that thing.” [Editor’s note: Gilbreath is a former reviewer for NewPages.] Pier Roberts’ article, “Learning Turkish (We Are Waiting for You)” is a downright elegant but unpretentious account of her attempts to navigate and interpret her adopted culture – a humbling and edifying experience, as much for honest readers of the piece as for its author.
Also to love, illustrations from artist Jesse Hawley, and the next installment of Jan Garden Castro’s skillful and complex “Notebooks of My Other Selves: Intimate Memoirs of Three Women.” This issue questions, expands, and reveals good old, nagging reality, even while a new dream whispers, “C’mon, we are waiting for you.” And that’s reason enough to return to The Adirondack Review.