“Cement Men” by Colin Winnette

from Gulf Coast Issue Summer/Fall 2014

Review by Tatiana Ryckman

gulf coast the oneColin Winnette’s story “Cement Men” appeared in Gulf Coast’s Summer/Fall 2014 issue (volume 26, Issue 2), as an honorable mention in the 2013 Barthelme prize. And that makes sense, if one judges Barthlmeness in degrees of mystery made from dirt–the delicate nature of hulking men sitting at an elementary school desk, or making a list of love under conifers.

But what has always made Barthelme’s words more-than the regular existence the rest of us are plodding through, and what makes Winnette’s story more-than the sum of our day-to-day is the ability of these writers to reach deeply into our brain’s heart and shove it into our guts. It is something dirtier than magical realism, maybe it’s a sort of realist’s surrealism. A world where the raw substances of living, the very things that weigh us down, become unbearably light. Continue reading

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“So Little” by Josey Foo

 from Brevity Issue 46: May 2014

Review by Liz Blood


Flash nonfiction is a funny little mixed breed.

I’ve been using that term mixed breed wrong since – well, forever. Usually, it refers to dogs with purebred ancestors, i.e., the sire of a Labrador and Poodle, resulting in a Labradoodle. Or perhaps the pup of a Labradoodle and a Chiweenie, resulting in a Ladoocheenie.  Chiweeladoodle. A dog of no discernable breeding, however, is a mongrel, which has a fairly negative ring to it. For years, I referred to my mongrel, Osa, as a mixed breed because she looked like she was German Shepherd, Rottweiler, Chow Chow, and Wolf, often with temperament of a terrier. A fierce-sounding mix (sans terrier), though I’m certain she was more Teddy Bear than anything else. Continue reading

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“Cold Spell” by John Brehm

from The Sun Magazine May 2014

Review by Pamela Taylor

the_sun_logoJohn Brehm’s “Cold Spell” captivates the reader for a longer spell than its 36 words. These two-line stanzas give the feeling of being all the poet can manage to spit out while standing next to me shivering. Brehm’s use of almost monosyllabic words throughout makes words like avalanches, yesterday, telephone, and jutting leap from the page. This is the kind of poetry even a fifth grader can understand – and should. Continue reading

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“A Bridge to You” by Debbie Urbanski

From Necessary Fiction, May 14th, 2014

Review by Charlie Geoghegan-Clements

165668_477305656077_5651010_nIt’s a cliché, but no less true for being so, that often what is most important is understated or unsaid. In “A Bridge to You” by Debbie Urbanski, silence, brevity, and a queasy feeling of the otherworldly are of great importance. The bulk of this very un-bulky story occurs around a dinner table where an unnamed narrator listens to her mother tell the story about a Native American girl who becomes the mate of a buffalo in a trade to ensure food for her starving tribe. The story is told to the family, as well as a group of “blues,” which are “creatures, or other-worldly beings,” and the reason that the narrator’s boyfriend has stopped coming to dinner. Continue reading

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“Re’em” by Adam McOmber

From Conjunctions: 61 A Menagerie

Review by A.W. Marshall

UnknownSometimes our greatest hopes seem lost in the imagined—whether it be places bettered, people more noble, a future with some optimism, a past more interesting, or an animal that we’d like to exist.  The second to last entry of the most recent Conjunctions: 61 The Menagerie, an issue dedicated to “writings about the vast world of our fellow beasts,” is Adam McOmber’s short story “Re’em.”

In “Re’em,” Ulrich Gottard, a medieval German monk, dies leaving behind a letter that tells the story about a trip he took to Egypt in his youth.  A group of monk initiates become transfixed by Gottard’s epistle, believing they found “a message that would soon deliver them from all earthly constraint.”  As such, they begin to plan their own pilgrimage to the Holy Land, which is why the head of their order, Father Benedict, took the letter, put it in a box, and sent it to the Roman Curia for the Holy See’s “consideration.”  Thus, it is assumed the young novices’ ambitions are thwarted, and they settle into their cloistered life, though one likes to imagine a few continue to dream of a horse with a single horn. Continue reading

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“The Stag and the Quiver” by Richard Siken

From theawl.com April 4, 2014

Review by Ian Bodkin


When speaking of poetry, or rather a single poem, even a sequence, it may seem odd to refer to a work as minimal. But when first encountering “The Stag and the Quiver” by Richard Siken recently published on The Awl that is the first adjective the language elicits. At the same time, to limit the four part sequence to such an acute description would underestimate the images and dramatic scenery at stake in Siken’s prose-poem. The title delivers but not in the-opening-silence-of-Bambi-expectation kind of way. With “The Stag and the Quiver,” Richard Siken engages in a dialogue of fable while confronting both the fears inherent to modernity and even the poet. Continue reading

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“Casual, Flux” by Molly O’Brien

from Paper Darts March 25, 2014.

Review by Charlie Geoghegan-Clements

casualfluxWith the detachment of a scientific observer, Molly O’Brien’s “Casual, Flux” tells the story of a friendship becoming vaguely more, casual and in flux, as the title hints. The story is told through by a narrator who isn’t present where the action of the story takes place. She’s away, in a room, watching on a screen, and we know very little about her, other than she can see all, remains unseen, and has a very high degree of control of the situation. The two observed characters, Girl 23 and Boy 41, drink whiskey in a kitchen at three in the morning, smoke a cigarette, and move to bed. This would be a sweet, if a trifle empty, story of two friends hooking up, were it not for the somewhat sinister air which floats over the whole, very short, story and its narrator. Continue reading

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