I've been hearing a lot lately about Keyhole Magazine so I ordered a copy.
It’s an attractive magazine, beginning with the eye-catching cover-art. Inside, there’s an editor’s note, which is something I usually like because it often provides some insight. This is no exception because the editor writes about what he looks for in a story. First, the opening sentence needs to grab him, and he points to an example in the issue, the opening of Monica Kilian’s “Mrs. Chatterjee’s Mangos”: “One evening in early spring, after her husband had fallen asleep in front of the television, Padma Chatterjee decided she wanted to grow mangos.” (I agree that this is an appealing opening because of the exotic name of the protagonist and because mangos are out of the ordinary; however, I would think a stronger action—something other than deciding—would have made the sentence even better.) Second, “keep it moving.” And third, “entertain me.” He goes on to say that “of course there is plot” and “of course there is character development” but these three things are what get him “excited.” Okay, then. Something to keep in mind if you are submitting to Keyhole.
As for the work in the magazine, it was entertaining and, for the most part, kept moving. I liked “Stitch” by Shellie Zacharia, about a woman looking back on an incident in school in which a classmate was injured with a baseball bat. It’s nicely done because the narrator is engaged in activity—she’s learning to sew—so that the retrospection isn’t happening without a context. This really works.
“Pilgrimage” is a long story by Tim Keppel, set in Colombia (where Keppel lives). I was a little confused by some of the relationships in the story, but basically a lawyer friend from the States, a pal of the narrator’s dead cousin, comes to visit. The visitor is kind of a jerk and the narrator and his girlfriend have to deal with him.
There is a series of flash fictions by Rosanne Griffeth, starting with “The Wrath of God,” a story about the point of view character’s crazy grandmother.
The other pieces are similarly quirky. It’s a magazine worth watching.