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NewPages Lit Mag Reviews

Posted September 2, 2008

  • Issue Number Issue 81
  • Published Date Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Brick is an excellent literary journal printed out of Toronto specializing mostly in nonfiction, though it publishes poems, stories and interviews.
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Feile-Feste is a taut little review produced by Paradiso-Parthas Press in New York City, “an independent venture circumventing corporate publishing.” The press defines the work it publishes as “accessible and innovative.” I’m not sure this issue demonstrates a great deal in the way of innovation, but the work is definitely “accessible” and much of it is appealing. What is most innovative, perhaps, is the inclusion of several works in English/Italian alongside their Italian/English translations, both prose and poetry. These include a very long narrative poem by a New York-based poet of Sicilian descent, Maria Frasca, and an essay by Enzo Farinella, a native Sicilian who lives in Ireland.
  • Issue Number Number 14
  • Published Date 2007
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
“At last, terror has arrived.” Thus begins the big bang of this little journal in Arda Collins’s “The News.” Quality poems follow, as is guaranteed by titles like “Heaven,” the silly goodness of Robyn Schiff’s “Dear Ralph Lauren,” and “1450-1950” by Bob Brown, a picture-poem, for want of a better word. It has eyes surrounding the verses “Eyes / Eyes / My God / What eyes!”
  • Issue Number Volume 3 Issue 2
  • Published Date Fall 2007
  • Publication Cycle Annual
Peripheral by nature, Marginalia’s slice-of-life vignettes range from titles such as “Other People are a Maze” to Barbara Baer’s “Korean Ribs.” The latter includes a wonderfully translated line, “Please hair that looks like sow.” Only an Animal Collective song can compare in its breadth of lyrics to the wonderfully captured sentiment and moment in each piece.
  • Issue Number Volume 36 Numbers 1 & 2
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
Fiction’s first with the Mississippi Review, as usual, and this issue begins with a story about fake implants called “A Miracle of Nature” – oh, the irony! Things go wrong, as things should in short stories, and the final line clinches it with “But back then she couldn’t say no; she couldn’t.” Ten more short stories follow, including Colin Bassett’s “This is so We Don’t Start Fighting” and Jennifer Pashley’s “How to Have an Affair in 1962,” which begins as all thusly titled stories should, with the directness of the line “we meet in public.”
  • Issue Number Number 19
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
It’s here. It’s finally here. The first issue of The Open Face Sandwich. Is it glorious? Yes! It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s the cataclysm I’ve been waiting for. It destroys my sense of place; it unhinges my hold on reality. It de-clasps my notion of a literary journal. It’s been advertised in a million places with a small, tasteful card. And it’s finally in my hands. O, the marvel of it. I gush for reasons such as:
  • Issue Number Volume 28 Number 2
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
If ever there were reason to reject the age-old adage never judge a book by its cover, this issue of Pleiades would be it. Amy Casey’s marvelous “upended,” an acrylic on paper, which reflects her perception “of the nervous state of the affairs in the world,” certainly upends that advice. Casey’s images of a world suspended make me believe there are wonders, marvels, and fresh perspectives ahead, and this is absolutely true. Tom Fleischmann’s essay, “Fist,” is one of the riskiest pieces of creative nonfiction I’ve seen in a long time, a meditation on fists that is linguistically and sexually provocative, without being forcedly edgy, odd, or experimental.
  • Issue Number Volume 2 Number 2
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Quarterly
Prick of the Spindle is a journal that fills its literary itinerary with almost every literary genre imaginable. It is one of the most comprehensively complete journals in terms of its subject matter as well as its devotion to the concept of representing large intellectual and culturally diverse writing communities. One unifying image of the type of writing that they publish is a merging of a chaotic and energetic prose flowing rapidly but with a structure grounding each piece in a specific style or meaning.
  • Issue Number Number 13
  • Published Date Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Triannual online

Raving Dove is like an impressionist painting that you have continuously observed in order to view obscured or distant images or ideas that you may have missed at first glance. Its literary sensibility seems to be one of simple and precisely written elegance to evoke serious political ideas, such as the affects of war, a central focus in this issue, and how it defines our “humanity,” whether it is in the form of nonfiction, poetry, fiction or photography.

  • Issue Number Number 76/77
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Triannual
Fast for a few days first so you’ll be good and hungry. This is a double issue, “A Readable Feast,” featuring poems, stories, essays, art, and “Real Recipes by Real Writers.” (It does make me wish, perversely, for some fake recipes by imaginary writers, I must confess.) The great eating (I mean reading) begins with the delicious cover, “Plenty,” by Billy Renkl, a splendid buffet of typically American foods. The issue is crammed with delectable art, including sweet black and white illustrations, sensuous charcoal drawings, and dreamy, surreal drawings that have the quality of papercuts.
  • Issue Number Volume 38 Number 1
  • Published Date Spring 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
As a group, the titles will tell you a lot: “Little Incisions,” “From God’s Notebook,” “In My Version of the Afterlife Grandma is Riding an Elephant,” “When Dada Ordered Chinese,” “Apparatus for the Inscription of a Falling Body,” “Scar Art,” “Six Whole Ducks in the Belly of an Ounce I Once Killed,” “The Middle-Class Philistine Heartfield Gone Wild.” Was Seneca Review always this, well, edgy? Is edgy the right word? Inventive? Out of the ordinary? Provocative, that’s it!
  • Issue Number Number 9
  • Published Date 2008
  • Publication Cycle Annual
I confess I missed the first eight issues, but now that I’ve become acquainted with this unconventional journal, I’d recommend it, especially to readers who prefer a great, big messy read of a review to more slender volumes. Everything about this magazine is big from its oxymoronic title, to the type size of its 300 pages, to the startling amount of space devoted to this issue’s “featured poet,” Anthony Seidman – a whopping 60 pages. I’d venture to say that Seidman is the most widely published writer in the issue, though it would be impossible to judge based on credentials.
  • Issue Number Number 62
  • Published Date Spring/Summer 2008
  • Publication Cycle Biannual
West Branch is the semiannual poetry publication of the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, though the journal does not restrict itself to poetry. This issue’s prose includes a beautiful essay by J. Malcolm García, and a short story by Christopher Torockio. García’s contribution, “A Good Life, Cowboy,” is the story of his saving a puppy in Afghanistan from a deadly, staged dogfight. As a journalist, García has a reporter’s eye for detail. As an essayist, he has a creative nonfiction writer’s gift for pace and timing. Torockio’s story, “Weights,” is a family story told in the authentic and appealing voice of a teen-aged boy, the kind of sturdy, traditional narrative that can be extremely satisfying. Torockio, happily, has a book of short stories coming out soon from Carnegie Mellon.
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