Formerly the Kansas Quarterly, this issue of the Arkansas Review features two essays, a memoir, a poem, one short story, and numerous reviews. I like the narrow double column format (found most commonly these days in newspapers and The New Yorker), which makes the analytical essays (“Ain’t No Burnin’ Hell: Southern Religion and the Devil’s Music” by Adam Gussow and “Farmers and Fastballs: The Culture of Baseball in Depression Era Northeast Arkansas” by Paul Edwards) highly readable. These essays are intelligent and informative, but not stuffy or opaque.
Margaret McMullan’s fiction “Insurance” is an affecting story about grief. CL Bledsoe’s personal essay/memoir of addiction, “The Shakes,” is smart and honest. Catharine Savage Brosman’s poem “Great Egret Feeding” is quiet and lovely:
In shallows near the bayou’s edge he feeds,
beyond the new bridge and the rippling bight –
attending to the keenest of his needs,
the daily tyranny of appetite.
Reviews include smart evaluations of books from major university presses and independent presses on a wide variety of subjects.