I’m heading down to South America tomorrow and won’t return until the WLA conference, which this year is being held in Spearfish. This will (probably) be my last update until October.
For those of you gearing up for the conference, check out Ron Parsons’ story, “The Black Hills,” which deals with two old friends competing for the affections of a woman in, you guessed it, Spearfish. It was published in the Briar Cliff Review, Volume 21 (2009). The issue also contains Sue Erickson Nieland’s short essay on Beatrice Goslin, an understudied Sioux City artist from the WPA era. These pieces, when coupled together with the fine photographs and artwork that are peppered throughout the issue, situate the Briar Cliff Review as one of the more important regional literary journals.
The Threepenny Review issue 118 (summer 2009) has a wonderfully honest essay by Dagoberto Gilb. “Father Close, Father Far” is about his dad and his sons, a theme that is also explored in the same issue by Elizabeth Tallent in her story, “The Wrong Son.” Nice pairing.
Speaking of essays, Harper’s May 2009 issue has a new one by Rowan Jacobsen entitled, “Fast Fish, Loose Fish,” which is about fishing in Alaska’s Yukon Delta. That same issue also has an absolutely chilling new essay by Charles Bowden, “The Sicario: A Juárez Hit Man Speaks.” His recently published book, Exodus/Éxodo, was recently reviewed by David Cremean in Southwestern American Literature, Volume 34.2 (spring 2009).
Jared Ward’s essay, “Burning the East Gate,” which appears in the spring/summer 2009 issue of West Branch (volume 64), describes a Sun Dance that he attended on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. One could interestingly compare his essay to Michael Gills’ story that appeared in the second issue of Salt Flats Annual entitled, “White Indians: Sundance. Zuni Territory, New Mexico. July, 2005.”
Nimrod International has come out with a special “Mexico/USA” issue (Volume 52.2, spring/summer 2009).
The spring/summer 2009 issue (Volume 7.1) of Utah State’s literary journal, Isotope: A Journal of Literary Nature and Science Writing, contains two fantastic essays: Charles Pfister’s “Migrations: Journeys to the Arctic” (pp. 42-48), and Stephen Trimble’s “Participating in Home: Following Wallace Stegner Into the Heart of the West” (pp. 52-55).
There is an interview with Antonya Nelson in The Cincinnati Review, Volume 5.2 (winter 2009), pp. 139-149, and an extended interview with Louise Erdrich appears in Zone 3, Volume 24.1 (spring 2009), pp. 104-135. Both writers will appear in the forthcoming Best of the West.
ZYZZYVA 25.1 (spring 2009) is definitely worth reading. As Harold Junker, the editor, says in his editor’s note, “In this issue, we explore the spectrum of textimage, instances in which text and image collide and collude on the page—from the artist playing with that basic literary unit, the letter, to the writer sketching and doodling in his notebook.” Readers of this blog might especially enjoy Jane Wolff’s “Delta Primer” (pp. 152-155). A critique of the issue can be found at New Pages.
I specifically wanted to ask readers of this blog to consider checking out High Desert Journal, an independent journal published out of Bend, Oregon. Their spring 2009 issue (Volume 9) was simply fantastic. It contained an interview with Terry Tempest Williams, an essay about the architecture of the Nevada Art Museum, aerial photographs of the American West by Michael Light, and for all of you hemispheric fans out there, a series of portraits about women in Oregon and Mexico.
Finally, for those of you specifically interested in short fiction, the following is a list of recently published short stories set in the U.S. West that were so good, they will be included in the “Other Notable Western Stories of 2009” appendix in the next Best of the West.
Cates, David Allan. “Rubber Boy.” Glimmer Train, Volume 70 (spring 2009). The voice of this story is truly unique. It potentially expands the borders of the West by linking LA to Vietnam and Baja California.
Hamby, Barbara. “Invasion of the Haoles.” Harvard Review, Volume 26 (2009). A dual point-of-view story about a white woman who marries a Japanese man in Hawaii circa 1959.
Lain, Gary. “Ho Chi Minh at Spiral Jetty.” Fiction Internatioal, Volume 41 (2008). What would happen if Ho Chi Minh visited the Spiral Jetty?
Masarik, Al. “Barnies.” Hayden’s Ferry, Volume 43 (fall/winter 2008/2009). A college student falls in love with a prostitute from “The Chicken Ranch,” a brothel sixty miles west of Las Vegas.
Mell, Carson. “Diamond Aces.” McSweeney’s, Volume 30 (2009). A young man travels with his hustler father from Tucson to Tempe as the latter consults with the owner of a down-and-out strip club.
Schuett, Laura. “The Hostages.” Calyx, Volume 25.1 (winter 2008). A Phoenix family struggles with mental illness.
Volz, Alia. “The Inn and Out.” ZYZZYVA, Volume 24.3 (winter 2008). Explores the world of the hourly hotel in a small town in California.
Watson, Brad. “Visitation.” New Yorker, April 6, 2009. An expertly told father-son story set in San Diego.
White, Lowell Mick. “Wildlife Rehabilitation.” Southwestern American Literature, Volume 34.1 (fall 2008). A quirky story, deeply rooted in Texas, about a man who has recently lost his wife.