When sitting down to read Burnside Review, I feel you have to be in the right mood: opening to something different with every turn of the page, and craving something that makes you see things in a new way. At my first sit-down, I wasn’t quite prepared, but during my second chance, I got lost in the words, wanting more when I had finished.
For example, I’m not certain I’ve fully deciphered Sarah Messer’s “She Grew a Stag’s Head and Ran Off,” but I can tell you that I’ve read it many times now, just for the imagery and the juxtaposition of the girl turning into a stag and then the earth with Röntgen’s first X-ray. Here’s a small sample: “The first X-ray he saw was his own skeleton flickering across the room. The way she moves now through the dark ribcage of trees. Sleepless, how long will any of us last?”
One of the longer selections and most rooted in realism is Mary Rechner's "Short Sale" in which Sam and Joanna struggle with having lost their business and having to move in with the parents. Even harder is that Sam must now work for his father. Joanna suggests they must become new people for this new life, changing from the outside back in. One of the best moments is toward the end when Sam considers the fairy merchandise that sells so well at his father’s store: "You bought the fairy stuff to thereby entice the fairies into being. You had to believe the fairies . . . would come."
Jennifer Moore’s piece introduces an interesting perspective, that of “The Cartoonist’s Daughter.” The comics seemingly unsuccessful, she is “waiting for the A-ha! Moment, for the Alley-Oop / into real time-laughter.” It’s a joy to read, and there’s lots to consider here.
Paula Cisewski's contribution is full of delicious phrases, such as “The singular / vulnerable, the shearing // away, hearsay or my say,” or, “There is no balm for this / yesterdayism, but how / the tempo cools and lingers.”
And Piotr Florczyk provides an image I just can’t let go of for its perfection, the way just reading it tenses my spine without much relief at the end of it: “then we took turns twisting the chains of the swings until someone suggested // we let go and start over again.”
Finally, seeing as I'm writing this under a winter weather storm watch, it only seems appropriate to mention Lisa J. Cihlar's "Wind Chill Factor." It took a direction I wasn't expecting but was pleasantly surprised with. I won't give it away, but you'll quickly wonder who "he" is that "chews his claws and spits the sharp points on the carpet next to the couch."
Thin and only the size of the average hand, Burnside Review is just the right size to carry with you wherever you go, ready to flip open to something fresh and exciting when you need a spark in your day.