Due to my experience waiting a very long time for responses from Quarterly West, it isn’t high on my list of magazines to submit work to. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good journal, however, and I enjoyed reading a recent issue (#62).
The clear highlight for me is “The Calaboose Epistles” by R.T. Smith. (Disclosure: I know him and occasionally read fiction submission for the wonderful journal he edits, Shenandoah.) I might also mention that one of the things I liked about this story is something that won’t even be noticed by many, which are the several references to places, especially the colleges and universities, in and around this area – VMI in Lexington, Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville – knowing, as I do, that Smith lives near and works in Lexington.
In any case the story is engaging. It takes the form of the correspondence of Fran Rushton with a convicted murder, Mug Blalock, undertaken at the urging of her consultation with a Ouija Board. During the course of the correspondence – we get only her side of it – we learn about the various disappointments in Fran’s love live, and her ultimate disappointment in Blalock. The voice here is what makes the story, and it will probably remind readers of Smith’s earlier prize-winning story The Docent.
There are other enjoyable stories and poems in the issue as well, and while I might not be submitting any time soon, I will keep an eye out for future issues.