Small and unassuming, The Orange Coast Review, an annual put out by Orange Coast College, is visually dazzling, for the cover art to the glossy midsection gallery. Including far more artwork than most journals, the 2009 issue features the work of fifteen different artists, several contributing multiple works. The most arresting pieces include Barbara Higgins’s photographs of mod-clad mannequins at a glitzy Laundromat, Jonathan Fletcher’s series of pin-hole photos, distorted, elongated features of his subjects all the more striking in black and white, and Frank Martinangeli’s etchings, which give the viewer the feeling they are viewing two worlds simultaneously.
Orange Coast opens their fairly sparse fiction selection with “The Ages” by Ramona Ausubel, a story of a young couple enjoying the discovery of living in a new place on their own, jarred by the middle aged and elderly neighbors who seemed to have resigned themselves to day-to-day drudgery. The main characters, referred to only as the girl and boy, take on a universality not because of their lack of identity, but because their fear (mainly the girl’s fear) of life’s uncertainty as well as its patterns is so relatable, especially when captured in Ausubel’s prose, which seems to channel a Juno-like playfulness with language, though much more polished.
Very poetry heavy, Orange Coast has both hits and misses with its selected verse. One shining example of its poetry is Rebecca Lean Papucara’s “Art,” a humorous rift among many poems heavy with sincerity and severity, it speaks about a former adult film star turned director:
You Went by Tide L
Wave, sometimes just
Tyde. Also Reverend Tide, Dr. Tide
Professor von Wave, The Adult Movie
Annals records some eighty-nine
Titles under your name. As director
You went by “Das Booty Hunter”
The review closes with a prose poem by Alex Green, “What Happens When you’re Gone,” which reads more like flash fiction, but tightly crafted flash fiction, about a man who feels he can’t live up to his girlfriend’s dead boyfriend, which captures all the inner torment of jealousy and love on one page.
Just over one hundred pages, Orange Coast Review packs in a lot, with only a few low points among otherwise high quality visual and literary art.