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Arkansas Review - April 2006

  • Issue Number: Volume 37 Number 1
  • Published Date: April 2006
  • Publication Cycle: annual

Barbeque, bottletrees, National Steal Guitars - if you're looking for clichés, this isn't the mag for you. Focusing on the seven-state Mississippi River Delta, Arkansas Review draws the humanities and social sciences in its interdisciplinary net to evoke the Delta experience. And although each issue contains fiction and poetry - 3 stories and 7 poems here—AR includes “studies” in its title for a reason. First, there’s the scholarly articles - about Arkansas State College’s early alliance with the Army and a transcribed lecture on Delta race relations—then the book reviews—17 pages of them, outnumbering any other single piece. With subjects ranging from the Louisiana Purchase to Southern Jewishness to managing Missouri’s natural landscapes, though, the reviews reach beyond an academic audience and appeal to anyone carrying the most cursory interest in their Southern countrymen. Guy Lancaster’s interview with the owner of Little Rock’s antiquarian Lorenzen & Co. Booksellers profiles a passionate entrepreneur endangered by CostCo and Borders. Jianqing Zheng and Angela Ball’s mixed-media collaboration, “Poems and Photos,” portrays the ethereal look and sleepy feel of the bottomland backroads where kudzu slowly consumes rural lives and structures—not unique territory, and the poetry doesn’t reach lyric heights, but the combo captures all the earthly otherworldliness that moves many travelers. Not only does author Darlin’ Neal’s name break the academic gravity, but her story, tracking the disappointment of a renowned Memphis musician’s teenage daughter, offers the issue’s only allusion to Blues. M. O. Walsh’s story, “Young Ted,” with intense focus and slightly unimaginative verbiage, recalls the absorbing strain between a quirky, Arkansas 13 year old and his disturbed father who, fresh out of prison and already driving drunk, steers them to a life-changing incident. Admittedly, the dull, sepia-tone cover is as eye-catching as a Wisconsin winter, but, then again, AR doesn’t purport to be Tin House. It’s part Publisher’s Weekly, part Southern Review, and that’s just perfect. []

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Review Posted on July 31, 2006

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