Sunday, December 28, 2008
What I'm Reading: Indiana Review 30.2
The new Indiana Review arrived a few days ago. Here are the standouts for me.
Four poems by Amaud Jamaul Johnson dealing with the complicated issue of race in the south. Of particular note is "Miss Thelma."
The short story "Pamela" by Dave Madden. The main character is a 17-year-old girl. The premise of the story is clever, the author announcing in the first paragraph that the narrator's father has bought her a new car but will only give it to her when she learns to type sixty words per minute. (The story is set in the time of the Apple IIe, and the father wants his daughter to be prepared for the computerized future.) At first I was suspicious of what almost seemed like a plot trick...keeping us reading as the narrator takes the self-tests and falls short of the goal, but the story involves several layers of conflict that cohere, in the end, into a truly enjoyable coming-of-age read.
Kim Philley's poem "Quantum" is a wonder of sounds, including these lines: "I am deep in a bantam / grief, narrow shoulders full tilt / in the stereophonic --"
And, J. W. Richardson's poem "Abdelazer," which takes the first line of the first stanza and repeats it in jazz-like variations for each subsequent stanza. The poem includes many allusions to well-known pieces of literature, including the title itself and a reference to Their Eyes Were Watching God...one of my top 10 novels of all time.
Finally, a request for the New Year. Please consider doing the following:
1. Buy a book of poetry or a collection of short stories (read and share with others).
2. Shop at an independent bookstore.
3. Subscribe to a literary magazine.
4. If you read something that moves you, consider letting the author know (if possible).
5. Use your local library (most can use interlibrary loan to get books not on their shelves).