reviews Archive

Review: THIS IS THE HOMELAND by Mary Hickman

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This Is the Homeland Mary Hickman Ahsahta Press, May 2015 80 pages $18.00 Buy book Mary Hickman’s first volume of poetry begins dazzlingly with “Joseph and Mary,” a poem carved out of Joyce’s Ulysses. Whether this was done by dramatic erasure or by mosaic-like re-arrangement of fragments is hard to

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Persons of Interest” by D.J. Thielke

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“If you expect nothing from anybody, you’re never disappointed,” wrote Sylvia Plath. Human beings can’t help but have expectations of each other and of themselves, even if those expectations are for nothing (which, of course, they never are). In D.J. Thielke’s “Persons of Interest” (Crazyhorse 87), the expectations characters

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Cafe con Leche” by Joanna Lynne Ponce

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There are as many names for the sun as there are languages; it might be tempting to believe that each of those names, then, means the same thing. Joanna Lynne Ponce’s story “Café con Leche” (Clackamas Literary Review XIX) exposes how critical language can be in giving definition to

The Best Short Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Miniature Lives of the Saints” by Anthony Wallace

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Physical beauty is like an innate talent or gift in that it can provide wonderful opportunities to its possessor that aren’t as easily available to others, if at all. But every blessing can also be a curse. In “Miniature Lives of the Saints” by Anthony Wallace (Missouri Review 38:1)

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Birthright” by Elizabeth Evitts Dickinson

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I believed in ghosts as a kid. Since then, I’ve wondered why I wasn’t ever fascinated by the lore of other supernatural creatures. I think it’s in large part because ghosts—unlike angels, demons, vampires, or werewolves—didn’t seem to have such a strict set of rules governing their existence. In

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Not Like What You Said” by Debbie Urbanski

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The older I get, the more I notice that my handwriting resembles my mother’s. Her cursive is so even, consistent, and precise that her letters and grocery lists look like they’ve been typed up on the computer and printed out. My handwriting isn’t like that—it’s sloppy and irregular—but when

From the Ploughshares Shelves: July Debuts

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Are you in the market for some top-notch summer reading, ideally from an exciting new author? Does your optimized, fast-lane lifestyle leave you no time to read full-length book reviews? If so, dear reader, rejoice: you are the target audience of the following bite-sized reviews, all of debut novels

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “My Wife, in Converse” by Shelly Oria

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Stories written in the first person are supposed to be more intimate and allow us greater access to the emotions and thoughts of the narrator than second or third person. But what about the characters who aren’t eager or able to articulate their feelings? What happens when we give

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “An Animal Under the Ground” by Steven T. Gibbon

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I think most of us who have ever had customer-facing jobs can say: dear god, it’s exhausting. Human beings, while resourceful and tenacious, are made of meat and therefore susceptible to all manner of physical and mental abuse. There’s only so much we can handle. After long enough, having

The Best Story I Read in a Lit Mag This Week: “Fear Itself” by Katie Coyle

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There’s a lot to love about Katie Coyle‘s story “Fear Itself,” published in the most recent issue of One Story. To start, Coyle is so spot-on in her depiction of teenage girls that about a page in, I took out my phone and snapped a quick picture of a