As the summer days become long and warm, the human spirit becomes lethargic yet the mind still wants to be enlighten in a small way. The Walrus Magazine has been for years publishing a great summer edition filled with fiction and this year’s edition is a great one again. This year’s theme is “fresh takes on old crimes.”
Ultrasound by Stephen Marche (page 64)
I also met Catherine Anne Doran during the period of the rapes. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “of no importance to me” and 10 being “of maximum importance to me,” I would rate my time with Catherine Anne Doran a 9.3. To put that number in context, I would rate the death of my mother an 8.8. I would rate losing my virginity an 8.7. Despite this high level of personal significance, the measurable changes our relationship produced were negligible. The numbers were the same, but everything changed. This is what I fail to understand.
The Walrus has a great reputation of generally looking human condition and they live up to that reputation by running the fiction of Stephen Marche. Ultrasound goes into the mind of a serious and analytical person during a time of mass crisis. The story is frank and bold and daring. I will be certainly looking forward to Marche’s next book in January.
Part of the Main by Mark Callanan (Excerpt)
You might say that a clod washed away
diminishes the whole, the contours
of the land effaced by saintly
patience of the tide, which knows
that in time its tiny contributions
add up to subtract from the shore,
but this has all been said before,
and better, long ago. Carping on
about it like the bloody-minded sea
that drags its weight back and forth
across the beach stones – madwoman
at a washboard trying to scrub
away the stain of what she’s done –
won’t change the fact that it’s easier
to turn your back on everyone.
A very descriptive piece from the co-editor of The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Poetry. I will be looking at more of his work.
Care and Feeding of the Amish by Kathryn Kuitenbrouswer(Page 71)
The poor weather did not abate and the power did not return, so they packed everything into the van. The question of what to do with the Amish was circumvented when Myra reminded the class that her mother was a social welfare lawyer, and would surely know how to go about adoption or fostering and generally managing the situation. Myra used the term “due processes,” which impressed all of them. She smiled at the Amish and told him not to worry, then herded him up into the back of the twelve-seater van. They had eaten muffins for breakfast – William’s nana had made them – and though the boy had taken just one small test bite, he had still managed to smear chocolate along his chin.
The ride was raucous, with the boys teaching the Amish how to curl his tongue in several different ways, how to pop his cheek, how to make wet fart sounds with the snap of his armpit over his cupped palm. They taught him the word “shit” and how to muffle it with a cough. The Amish pulled the skin under his eyes down with the first two fingers of one hand and shoved his nose up with the index of the other, and the children laughed.
Kuitenbrouwer is a regular contributor to The Walrus. This story is a great look at differences between cultures and the sometimes wickedly wonderful viewpoint of children.
Brute by Jessica Grant (page 75)
What I want to know, though, is this: Who is better. The dog who is able to hold a fat child’s arm between his teeth without depressing them, or the dog who every morning wrestles with grandmotherly impulses on his father’s side. Who is better. The one who is naturally good, or the one who struggles to be good.
Grant’s story goes inside the mind of some sort of being, but what exactly we don’t know until the end. This being is divided into a passive and a aggressive side and Grant brilliantly gives each side equal time to show it’s thought patterns.
Watching the Cop Show in Bed (excerpt) by Alexandra Oliver (Page 77)
Too late indeed. I used to feel wiser,
more in charge, a little more creative.
Now, like the rest, I watch the door and wait.
An interesting and descriptive little poem. No doubt I will not be the only person looking into more of the work of this writer.
The Walrus Magazine does a great job in enlightening any reader’s mind during the year but this year’s Summer Reading Issue does a great job. A rare plus in the periodical industry.