Saturday, January 07, 2012

Year of the LitMag: Mid-American Review Vol. XXI No. 2

[Note: this post is part of my Year of the LitMag series. If you would like to contribute to the series, please leave a comment below or send me an email. CG]

I’ve read other issues of the Mid-American Review out of Bowling Green State University, but with the new issue, Volume XXI No. 2, I am reminded that the editors seem to like quirky, off-beat stories. There are lots of examples here.

Matthew Eck’s “The Many Inventions of Walt Whitman, Jr.” is a love story, sort of, about a guy who goes out on a date with a wrong number, but he wears a sheet because she tells him it’s a philosophy party (and he’s thinking “toga”). The dialogue is witty and fast-paced, and reveals the delightfully twisted character of the narrator. Shannon Cain’s “I Love Bob” is about Hillary, whose mother, a drunk, has told her that Bob Barker is her father. So Hillary goes to Hollywood and meets Bob Barker. Lydia Fitzpatrick’s “Flood Lines,” which won the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award, is told in the third person plural from the point of view of Catholic school girls who were displaced by Katrina but are now back, all but one. Kate Finlinson’s “Transliteration,” a fragmented piece, is about a widow who is carrying on a conversation with her late husband—in Russian. Matt Mullins’s “The Braid” is without quirks, but it does have quite a shock built into it. Mark Mayer’s “The Evasive Magnolio” is about dealing with the corpse of an elephant. (It’s about way more than that, actually.) There are also a number of excellent flash fictions in this issue, including Ravi Mangla’s “Better Halves,” and one that I resisted (but ultimately liked) because it’s in second person, “Divination” by James Tadd Adcox.

On top of the fiction, there are three essays and a lot of poetry, including an interesting translation chapbook called “Beneath an Avalanche of Waking” by Mira Kus, translated by Karen Kovacik.

And then, at the back of the issue, I was reminded that Mid-American Review runs reviews. Lots of reviews. In a section called “What We’re Reading” there are 22 book reviews, including reviews of books from a lot of small presses: Ryan Call’s Weather Stations (Caketrain Press); Heather Fowler’s Suspended Heart (Aqueous Books); Seth Fried’s The Great Frustration (Soft Skull Press); Michael Hemmington’s Pictures of Houses with Water Damage (Black Lawrence Press); and lots more.

I wanted to mention, too, that MAR design is great. For this issue, the beautiful cover art is by Nikkita Cohoon.


Ravi Mangla said...

Thanks for checking out the story, Cliff.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Clifford I am Zin! I hope you will consider including One Story in your examination of literary magazines! It is unique, and always well-represented in the major prize anthologies. I enjoy it very much: the stories are almost always excellent, there is variety by necessity since they only publish a writer once, and it is very portable for those of us who read on the go!

Clifford Garstang said...

Hi, Zin. #156 is in top of the pile on the corner of my desk, so I was planning to get to it this week! (Next up is the new issue of Five Points.)