The Lit Mag Roundup is a quarterly feature at Moorishgirl.com, in which North Carolina-based fiction writer Katrina Denza shares her literary discoveries of the season. In this installment, she reviews the latest from The Baltimore Review, Small Spiral Notebook, A Public Space, and Gulf Coast.
It’s the end of March and evidence of spring’s arrival can be found outside my house in various forms: forsythia and hyacinths were the first to bloom; narcissuses, daffodils, irises, violets have now risen up vibrant and lovely from beneath the ground and the first of the azaleas have blossomed. Just as the first flowers have appeared in the yard, so have the latest issues of some of my favorite journals begun to fill my mailbox–and some brand new to me as well.
The Baltimore Review‘s Winter/Spring issue begins with a note from managing editor Susan Muaddi Darraj, acknowledging the hard work of the editorial staff (fourteen volunteers in addition to the founding and managing editors). Of the six pieces of fiction, the first is Jacob M. Appel’s “Waterloo,” the hilarious story of a man who attends a birthday party for his girlfriend’s dead niece. In Clifford Garstang’s “Heading for Home,” tension builds as a sheriff is confronted with prejudice and doesn’t release until the last sentence. Shawn Behlen’s “As Children Do,” tells of a man struggling with the truth of his parents’ relationship. Told in alternating POVs, “The Middle Stretch,” by Holly Sanders, is an expertly controlled story of an exchange between a woman and the trooper who pulls her over. In Louis Gallo’s “Dark Matters,” a man and his wife ponder dark matters and dreams on the way to the podiatrist. Three siblings use their imagination to cope with violence in their home in the last story of the issue, Alaura Wilfert’s “Indians.” There are three pieces of creative nonfiction: Melanie Hoffert’s prizewinning “Going Home,” about the author’s connection with the land she grew up on and her attempt to speak openly of her sexuality on her return home; Marcia R. Aquíñiga shares her childhood experience of acting as translator for her Mexican grandmother in “Doing All the Talking;” and Jerry D. Mathes II has a riveting essay on fighting fires in north-central Idaho called, “Falling into Fire.” Of the ten poems, my favorites were Colleen Webster’s “Voices Along the Yangtzee;” Daniele Pantano’s “Patrimonial Recipe;” and Margaret J. Hoehn’s prizewinning “Five Prayers of Apples,” part of which reads:
Near the place where I stopped to rest,
what hung to the ground, like a bird’s injured wing,
was a branch that had splintered
beneath the ripening fruit, a way of saying
that even abundance has burdens,
that beauty sits side-by-side with loss.
The issue ends with six book reviews and a fascinating interview with author Tristan Davies by Nathan Leslie.
Small Spiral Notebook‘s latest issue is appealing in its elegance, but don’t let the slenderness of the volume fool you: it’s loaded with rich, sophisticated material. The fiction is impressive. In Aimee Pokwatka’s “Perennials,” a couple mourns their inability to grow a lush garden. Paul Yoon tells of a friendship between a sea woman and a wounded boy in “So That They Do Not Hear Us.”