I recently received the May 2007 issue of Meridian. Because it is based at UVa, not far from where I live, I keep submitting things there. I’ve also tried to subscribe a couple of times. The first time they lost my check. I gather it’s student-run, though, so I can’t get too worked up about such things, but I have to say I am disappointed in the content of the magazine. The fiction in this issue good, over all, but none of it blows me away. Two, maybe three, of the stories amount to “coming of age” pieces, which generally bore me (I suppose because I came of age so long ago).
But let’s see what we can say about them more specifically. First up is “Think of Paramus” by Hugh Merwin. I wish the set up here had been clearer from the beginning because I think the idea of aging hippies looking for an outlet is an intriguing one, and the point of view character’s quirkiness become quite engaging, once we realize what’s going on. But Kashmir is an intriguing character and I willingly followed her.
Lisa Solod Warren’s “A Case of You” isn’t a coming of age story but it is a double-whammy of over-worked themes: cancer and adultery. Actually the combination of the two freshens both somewhat, and it was enticing to watch both the affair and the disease progress together. I didn’t care for the ending, though, which seemed a bit too external.
Catherine Brown’s “Persimmons” has a terrific character sketch of an awkward girl, Lydia, who is the brunt of teasing – more like torture – at the hands of the narrator and her friends. It is a retrospective story that doesn’t, in my view, draw enough of a distinction between the narrator as a girl and the woman she’s become. And there is an odd structural element here also: sections switch from past to historical present, back and forth throughout the story. I don’t see anything gained by the switch.
“Duck” by Jon V. Hickey is a compelling read with characters (other than the narrator, who is meant to be a passive observer, I think) who are fascinating – Duck and her no-good boyfriend Louis. I don’t think it is just the fact that the story involves Native Americans and is set on a reservation that brings Sherman Alexie to mind. Like his characters, this story is populated with countless self-destructive types who are headed for disaster.
We have adultery again in “Where We Go From Here” by Michael Piafsky, this time paired with pregnancy. I liked the two-faced voice of the narrator, and the fact that she and her husband make their pregnant neighbor stand up while she chats with them all through their dinner.