Big Lucks, much like its name, has a quirky but earnest mission statement. “We at Big Lucks feel as if the most exciting and noteworthy writing lurks in the unlit depths of the ocean, amid the lifeforms and creatures humanity was never meant to see. It’s our goal to be the vessel—the nuclear submarine—that helps these new life forms breach the repetitive ebb-and-tide of this metaphorical ocean’s surface.”
As with its nuclear submarine metaphor, and luck itself, Big Lucks is full of surprises; this issue contains plenty of traditional (but short) short stories and poems, but also many pieces that break with formal conventions. A number of pieces seem powerfully concerned with place and setting. The first-person narrator adds an elicit excitement to Philip Dean Walker’s opening story “Unicorn.” It is about entering and exploring a broken-down, abandoned building that junkies use for sex and shooting up. The tone is dark, but the narrator’s youth and exuberance are palpable, marking the story with a unique contradiction.
Andrew Beck Grace’s “The Storm, in Fragments,” starts with the warning, “I’d like to tell you a story, but I’m afraid it’s going to be fragmented,” and proceeds to relate a tale about the narrator’s connection to the various tornados that have impacted his life. The writing is brisk and broken, jumping back and forth skillfully in time, searching out the emotional power of each of the individual fragments that make up this story, many of which are deeply rooted in the narrator’s relationship to place.
“This and That,” a prose poem by Ricky Garni, continues with this focus on place and being. By writing about a t-shirt John Lennon once owned—a t-shirt with the words “THIS IS NOT HERE” on it—Garni explores the difficulty in believing that place can be a definition, something that defines someone.
Another standout piece, Amber Spark’s “Five Kinds of Human History,” blurs the line between story and prose poem, consisting of a number of named prose poems that combine into one piece. My favorite title that she has chosen for one of these pieces is “The Reviews of Our Marriage Were Not Very Good.” It imagines a couple who wait for the reviews of their marriage in the morning papers. They wonder if anyone else will notice that these reviews, and their relationship, are not on firm ground.
Big Lucks is a young, promising journal. Its tone is often one of humor, but a humor tinged with sadness. The writers published in these pages write with precision and astute observation about the worlds and situations they describe.