This annual journal from Truman State University tips the scales at a hefty and generous 250 pages —18 stories, 32 poems, an essay, and 3 reviews. Don't skip the reviews; admirably, GHLL reviews poetry and novels from lesser-known, independent presses.
By chance or by design, many of the stories in this issue recount the experiences or perspectives of children, adolescents, or young adults, including Mark Wisniewski's, "Cecilia," winner of the journal's fiction contest. Wisniewski's story is a sarcastic look at the underbelly of MFA programs for writers: "'MFA –at-NYU—that's how she always said it, 'MFA-at-NYU," as if it were a code that meant whoever heard it should kneel at her feet and kiss them." Another highlight is Jennie Rathbun's "Lark Ascending," a funny and atypically upbeat story about a marriage in trouble.
GHLL's one essay is by novelist and founding editor of Ploughshares DeWitt Henry. "Dress Rehearsal" recounts Henry's trip to the emergency room. Henry is told he has a muscle tear and is sent home from the hospital with pain medication. "No sooner did we get home, however, than the phone rang and another doctor who had just read my X-rays told me excitedly that I had pneumonia. He had seen the small spot on my lung that the others had missed." This piece belongs to what is becoming, in some ways, its own mini-genre: stories of misdiagnosis, medical mistakes, and bungled care.
The poems, as a group, are more eclectic than the stories, though narrative poetry predominates. "Poems for Buttercup" by Trish Lapidus is one of my favorites: "Pregnant with me, my sister on her shoulder, / she stokes the wood cook stove and pulls yesterdays // corn chowder from the icebox…//…When my father steps in from gathering eggs, // her mind boils out her mouth." Virgil Suárez’ poem, "The Face of Jesús in Campbell's ABC Tomato Soup," is as memorable as the title. And I must mention Julie Lechevsky's "Suppplicant": "I would like to develop more positive / thoughts about my lovers. / I will do this by entering into prayer." You'll have to pick up this issue to find out what she prays for. [The Green Hill Literary Review, P.O. Box 375, Trenton, MO 64683. E-mail: . Single issue $10.00. http://ll.truman.edu/ghllweb] - SR