The Winter 2005 issue of Shenandoah (Vol. 55 No. 3) arrived shortly before Christmas. Cover artwork is again by Julie Speed, who also provided the cover for the Fall issue. This time, a portfolio of her work is included in the magazine and these are fantastic pictures. Another highlight of this issue is that it contains a book review by me, of Edward Schwarzschild’s Responsible Men, and a fabulous story by Anne Sanow (“Pioneer”) that I was pleased to find in my capacity as “Fiction Assistant” for the magazine and recommend to the editor. The story concerns a nine-year-old American boy living in Saudi Arabia where his father is a construction supervisor. It isn’t complicated, but it is told with acute drama and fine details of the expatriate experience.
The Fall issue also has a couple of essays that I recommended from the slush pile, “Pennsylvania: A Natural History,” by Brian Booker, and “For My Sister, Who Has Learned How to See in the Dark,” by Laura Distelheim. The latter essay relates the stories both of the author and time spent with her niece and of the author’s sister, a journalist in Iraq, and her experience with a mother and child there, known through video footage and letters. It conveys the impact of the war in Iraq on women and children, but also shows how distant the American public is from the reality of the war, how it is scene only in images and sound-bytes.