Saturday, March 01, 2008

LitMag Wave: The Florida Review, Fall 2007

I picked up a copy of The Florida Review at AWP, the first I've seen, I think. Most of the fiction in the Fall 2007 issue is, I have to say, odd. Or at least it's diverse. And I have to be honest in saying that little of it appealed to me. Furthermore, I was put of by errors that I suspect were editorial, since the same mistake (with a certain tricky verb) was repeated in multiple stories. Considering how hard I've been working to get my composition students to learn that particular verb, seeing that error in print is discouraging.

But it's not all bad. I enjoyed "Critical Cartography" by Joseph Levens, who happens also to be editor of The Summerset Review. The narrator is a kid putting together a cartography project for school. His family has taken a blind girl into their home and the map project takes on a new meaning in light of her disability. The boy learns an important lesson, and the story ends with a memorable image. "There's a Child Living in This House" by Kate Myers Hanson is solid, if disturbing, about a girl growing up in a dysfunctional home with a pain-killer addicted father.

Then there is the far more ambitious "Drown" by my friend Urban Waite. Here we have a narrator who is grown (and in a complicated marriage), but who is nonetheless still dealing with the problems created by his adulterous/murderous father and his irresponsible/manipulative brother. The opening line is terrific: "We kept our father's secrets." The story surprises in that it eventually seems to focus on the relationship of the narrator with his brother's daughter, and his clumsy attempt to give her something neither he nor his brother ever had.
"They let me bring Cali down to the inlet because I have done nothing wrong. I am not a reckless uncle. I am not prone to bouts of insanity, or anger. But there is something I would like to do, something I can't explain to Cali's parents, something that I want to do for myself and for Cali."
There's more here, of course, but these are the pieces that grabbed me the most.

On the magazine's website you'll see a note from the editor that she has moved on to The Southern Review. It will be interesting to see what that means for both journals.

1 comment:

Joseph Levens said...

Clifford - Thank you for the nice words on my story.