From the essays to the poetry and fiction, war and 9/11 are recurrent themes in this issue of The Georgia Review. The essays – by Ihad Hassan, Reg Saner and Elizabeth Dodd – all examine current and past world crises, from fundamentalism in literature to a reminiscence by a Korean War vet. In Dodd’s essay, she meets an Iraqi poet who wrestles with disturbing images of war and suffering.
Brian Turner’s poem “Wading Out” describes a harrowing march through a muddy field in Iraq, a field in which the speaker becomes – both literally and metaphorically – mired. Turner, a veteran of the war in Iraq and author of Here, Bullet, is one of the most striking voices to emerge from that conflict. A lot of nonfiction has been written by Iraq vets, but very little art, so it’s refreshing and heartening to see some of it here. Even though the speaker has made it safely home, he muses, “still I’m down there slogging / deeper into the shit, shoulder deep, my old platoon / with another year of bullets and mortars and missions / dragging them further in.”
In Tracy Daugherty’s story “Bern,” a middle-aged architect by that name living in post-9/11 New York befriends a younger woman whom he takes on walking tours of the city, instructing her on the finer points of architecture. One morning he decides to visit Ground Zero: “Of course, there was not much to see at the site. A vast construction zone, with little construction in progress. Pataki’s Pit, everyone called it, deriding the former governor’s politics, which had kept the hole longer than it needed to be.”
The less serious but no less readable “Reclamations” by Jerry McGahan describes a homeowner’s effort to shoo an obstinate bear off his property.
In a note to readers, the new editor of The Georgia Review, Stephen Corey, vows to maintain its reputation as one of America’s premier literary journals by continuing to publish its “big five” (essays, short stories, poems, reviews and visual art) as well as by sneaking in a few surprises. What kind of surprises? You’ll just have to see for yourself.