Wednesday, April 18, 2007

LitMag Wave: REAL

There are a couple of stories in the current issue of REAL (31.2) that stand out. The first is “Crossing Cape Fear” by Katrina Denza. (I confess that Kat is a friend and I’ve read a couple of earlier versions of this story, including one that was critiqued in the workshop we were both in at Bread Loaf last year; it’s wonderful to see it in print.) The point of view character Rae is breaking out of the narrow space she’s been in for years, especially since the death of her husband Paul. She arrives at the B&B where she has a reservation and discovers that she has some things in common with her host Peter, and their interaction lets the reader learn a great deal about both of them. It’s a beautiful story.
“When Rae came to the bridge that crossed Cape Fear into Wilmington, its size and fast-paced traffic made her dizzy. She sat straighter at the wheel and flexed her hands. She stared at the brilliant yellow license plate of the car ahead of her and avoided her side windows. She told herself, out loud, it was a road like any other, while trying to draw out her fearless self, the one who filled out her body before leaving through slow leaks.”
The reader sees the pressures on Rae, and we’re rooting for her.

I liked “Ohana” by Jill Stegman, too, especially because the characters and setting (Reuben, night manager of a hotel in Hawaii). The author skillfully renders the true modern culture with the Hawaii that tourists might think of. Reuben, a former cop, is still brooding over a murder he was unable to prevent. Reuben has a lot in common with the volcano:
“It was as if the earth’s crust had been torn open, revealing its throbbing heart. The brilliant red-orange juxtaposed against the most intense blackness of the landscape was both magnificent and horrible. He saw afterimages for days. His dreams were dominated by explosions and fire.”

Also impressive is Matt Cummings’s “Preparations for What is Happening,” told from the point of view of a young unwed mother. It was especially strong when she was examining her relationship with the young father of her child, who was trying to do the right thing.
“I don’t know why I was so obsessed with how young he was. He was only two years younger than me. Maybe because it had to do with the fact that he’d just finished high school, and that I, at nineteen, still felt like a little kid, still found the idea of being a parent—a parent—unfathomable. There was no way he was any more ready than I was, and I wasn’t ready.”
I confess that I was disappointed when the young father disappeared and focus shifted to the girl’s relationship with her mother.

There are also some other intriguing stories and several nice poems in the magazine, so if you have a chance to get a copy, by all means do!

Next up: Fugue


Myfanwy Collins said...

I just love that story of Kat's. Sounds like a great issue.

katrina said...

Thanks so much, Cliff--both for the positive comments and for your input into the story.