Monday, January 02, 2006

New England Review

The current issue of New England Review (Vol. 26 No. 4/2005) has one outstanding story in it (sadly, not the one that is in the online edition): "The Company of Men" by Jan Ellison. This is the story of Catherine who recalls her year of world travels after college, and spending time with Jimmy and Ray, two guys from North Carolina whom she meets in a pub in New Zealand. She grows close to Jimmy, but is at the same time drawn to and repelled by Ray. They come together again in Sydney and it is an electric time that Cath seems to want to go on forever, but it can't. Years later, happily married and a mother, she finds herself playing poker with the husbands of some of her friends and she feels some of the same energy she felt with Jimmy and Ray. "Desire was thumping in my chest and the instinct to win, to go forward with abandon, was shooting through me, across the back of my neck and down between my legs." The author uses two fleece-lined red rain-slickers that belonged to Jimmy and Ray as an objective correlative--a device that both shields Cath from her feelings for Jimmy and Ray and represents them, tucked away in a box in the closet, and ultimately discarded (but not forgotten). The story ends powerfully with her recollection of finally saying goodbye to Jimmy and Ray: "Not in an effort to shed the loss but to savor it, to shape it, to give it permanence."

According to the contributors' notes, this is Ellison's first published story, but it's clear that there will be many more. Definitely the highlight of this issue of NER. Well done, Ms. Ellison.

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