10 May 2016
Welcome to the Gettysburg Review Online.
Before offering up my summary of the new issue, I’d like to take a moment to introduce our new managing editor, Jess Bryant, who comes to us by way of Eastern Washington University, from which she will soon earn her MFA, and where she was the managing editor at Willow Springs Editions for the past two years. We are happy, and very relieved, to have her join the Gettysburg Review staff. Please send her your congratulations and make her feel welcome.
So, as I said, the Summer 2016 issue has arrived, and like many of our previous issues, it’s a mixed bag thematically. On a general level, I’d say that the work we’ve selected for this edition demonstrates a preoccupation with what binds us to and divides from one another—whether strangers or loved ones—but also ourselves. Attention too is paid to the arduousness of creating and maintaining connections, something that featured-artist Gary Ruddell beautifully, hauntingly conveys in several of his paintings, though in none so visibly as The Reach, which graces this issue’s cover.
Our authors’ individual slants on this admittedly expansive area of concern are, of course, diverse. Victoria Lancelotta, Z’Anne Covell, Kent Nelson, and to some extent Anne Ray all explore in their short stories the hazards of romance. Questionable amorous decisions abound in “You Are Here,” Lancelotta’s near cautionary tale of a very young and ill-equipped couple’s eager efforts to begin their adult lives, and they continue to mount in Covell’s short story “Forever, No?,” whose hero has an affair with a married man, gets caught, acknowledges her badness, but continues, unrepentantly, to cheat, because love, as a wise person once said, makes fools of us all…or is it “codependency”? Anne Ray sends her protagonist, a damaged and rudderless twenty-something, on a quest of sorts; she and her roommate head from Sante Fe to a party in Austin, Texas, but are diverted by a stranger who leads them on a tense, disquieting adventure. Kent Nelson’s “Where Is He Now?” shows a strong, independent woman looking back on a romantic opportunity missed, but doing so without succumbing to weepy nostalgia.
Rebecca McClanahan, Kathi Hansen, and Leslie Pietrzyk all illustrate the dissolution of familial connections in their work. McClanahan’s two short essays offer quick glimpses of the devastation Alzheimer’s disease wreaks on her relationship with her mother as that affliction erodes and erases her mother’s memories. Set in 1980’s Chicago, in an exclusive dressing room at the downtown Marshall Fields, the narrator of Pietrzyk’s fiction “Give the Lady What She Wants” finds herself awkwardly ensnared in the troubled lives of her college roommate’s affluent Chicago family, triggering a moral dilemma of her own, and an unsettling epiphany about herself. Kathi Hansen’s story, “Strong Enough to Carry Him,” portrays the household that two complete strangers build from one’s impulsive act of kindness, as well as that household’s sad, shocking , but eccentrically touching conclusion.
Framing the prose, poet Matthew Minicucci ponders “the distance between two people” as he analyzes, with faux scientific objectivity, the nature of an apparently defunct romantic relationship, while Shara McCallum, in “Madwoman Apocrypha,” performs a harrowing and unflinching self-interrogation, fathoming and revealing how she became the she who she is...or thinks she is. Christopher Kempf, John Bargowski, and Kevin Stein all take note of the state of their relationships to their fathers, while Valerie Bandura measures the fierceness and the alarming limits of the bond with her son. Julia Spicher Kasdorf, echoing Muriel Rukeyser, offers an assessment of the strained bonds between a place and its citizens in her stark poem about the depredations of fracking here in the keystone state.
The relationship to place is also a concern for Bonnie Costello, Liza Cochran, and Susan McCallum-Smith. Costello takes us on a walk through Putnam Station, New York—a town in which she spent a portion of her youth--noting its history as well as her and her family’s connection to it and its people. McCallum-Smith explores how place, specifically the one called “home,” has both limited and freed her writerly self-exploration, and Cochran ponders the impact that a place that values hunting—in this instance deer hunting—has on her ethos as she and her husband undertake a slightly off-the-grid existence in the wilds of Vermont.
I hope this brief jaunt through some of what the Summer 2016 issue has to offer has piqued your interest. For a deeper and fuller appreciation, you’ll have to pick up a copy and take a look. After you do, drop me a note, and tell me what you think.
Until next time,
CLMP Firecracker Award: The Gettysburg Review was a finalist in the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses annual Firecracker Award for general excellence, but sadly we did not take home the honor. Congratulations to A Public Space, well-deserving winners of the this year’s Firecracker Award.
The Best American Poetry: Michelle Boisseau’s “Ugglig,” which first appeared in our Summer 2015 issue, has been selected by Edward Hirsch for inclusion in the 2016 edition of this esteemed anthology.
The 2015 VIDA Count: has recognized the Gettysburg Review once again for its publication rate for women authors, which in the latest volume was 55 percent.
Pushcart Prize XLI Nominees: Join us in congratulating this year’s batch of Pushcart nominees: Michelle Boisseau, Christopher Howell, Brad Richard, Graham Barnhart, Jancie Obuchowski, Maureen McCoy, Nicholas Montemarano, Ed Ochester, Jen Silverman, Gabrielle Hovendon, Jay Leeming, and Jon Loomis. Thanks to all of you for sending your wonderful work our way, and best of luck!
Digital Edition: In case you didn’t get the memo, the Gettysburg Review is now available digitally in three formats: ePDF, which replicates the print version, ePub, and Mobipocket. The latter two are “reflowable” formats for use on e-readers and Kindle devices. You can purchase single copies and digital subscriptions at our Online Shop, but you can also find copies at 0s&1s and ShelfWise. Please, check it out and spread the word. And to those of you who are print loyal, don’t worry: we will continue to be primarily a print publication.
That’s it for now. We always like to hear from our readers, so please let us know what you think of the latest issue. If you are a user of social media, say hello and like us on Facebook. As always, thanks for your support, and keep reading.
It is our pleasure to report that another Gettysburg Review contributor has won accolades for her debut collection: Allegra Hyde has received the University of Iowa Press’s John Simmons Short Fiction Award for her collection Of This New World, which will be released this coming October.
Gettysburg Review author Robert Oldshue has won the 2016 Iowa Short Fiction Award for November Storm. Bennett Sims, judge for the award, celebrates Oldshue as a writer of “stories that are as rich and self-complicating as novels.” We couldn’t agree more.
Aviya Kushner’s first book, The Grammar of God: A Journey Into the Words and Worlds of the Bible, is out now from Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House.