The interesting thing here is that there is a lot of poetry and there are several shorter pieces of fiction, with only one story being fairly long. I’m only going to talk about a few, but I actually liked it all.
Jason Lee Brown’s “Chicken Without a Head” is a touching portrait of a young boy growing up on the farm with just his father, learning about farm chores (including chopping off the heads of chickens, which the boy, Schooney, seems to like), and watching as his father is courted by a local woman.
My favorite piece in this issue is Steven Wingate’s “Me and Paul” (winner of The Journal’s short story contest). I liked it because it deals with identity, a theme that I explore often in my stories. Here, the narrator Joe, meets an attractive single mother and pretends to be Paul and turns Paul into someone Joe decidedly is not. The woman is drawn to “Paul” but Joe, as Paul, cannot perform. Joe leaves, questioning who he really is. The story is nicely done.
Jean Giovanetti’s “Invisible Rope” is also nice, about the relationship between a woman and her sister’s child. The longest story in the issue, Melissa Yancy’s “The Program” is also engaging and clever.
I also enjoyed Kyle Minor’s interview with Lawrence Weschler (author of Everything That Rises: A Book of Convergences). In response to a question about the “literature of nonfiction” Weschler says:
“I want to get rid of the distinction between fiction and nonfiction. The class I teach at NYU is called “The Fiction of Nonfiction,” and it is less a class about reporting methods that it is about the fictional methods that can be applied to nonfictional writing. It presupposes that the writer will try to be fair, but also acknowledges that there is no such thing as objectivity, and revels in that fact.”
Next up: Willow Springs 58