By the Book: Stony Brook Southampton’s Latest Literary Review

By the Book: Stony Brook Southampton’s Latest Literary Review

The 2018 Winter/Spring edition of The Southampton Review has made its debut. In the words of Editor-in-Chief Lou Ann Walker, the mission of the review is to “provide an outlet for work that entertains, and in many cases, that speaks truth to power.” This edition of TSR certainly accomplishes that mission. Through the works of fiction, poetry, memoir, screenplays, literary cartoons, photography and art, TSR captures the human experience.

New faculty member and esteemed short story writer Amy Hempel has joined TSR for this edition as Fiction Editor. The fiction pieces chosen include a short story about a ballerina’s revenge in “Audition” by Derek Updegraff, a dysfunctional family traveling through France, ending up in tatters on a Paris street in “The Last Johnson Family Vacation” by Sophia Rubenstein, and a woman struggling to accept the reason a man has rejected her in “Blame the Dogs” by Paola Peroni. These are only a few of the stories selected by Hempel and the editors of TSR, but all of them have an innate human quality. They include flawed characters who bring each story to life. In addition to the longer pieces of fiction, the Short Short Fiction Prize Winners are also included in this volume. They include “The Strip Club” by Will Finalyson, “Tsunami” by Elizabeth Stix, and “On the Street Corner” by Yoram Naslavsky.

Sag Harbor’s Star Black served as Guest Poetry Editor for this volume of TSR. The volume opens with poems by Billy Collins, “Whiskers,” and “Paris in May.” It closes with poems by new faculty member Cornelius Eady. The poetry that falls between the works of these two respected poets is as equally thought-provoking and beautiful as that of the poems by Collins and Eady. Of these, one that stands out from the pack is “A Mirror of the Missing You” by Michelle Whittaker, author of the poetry collection Surge and alumna of the MFA Creative Writing program at Stony Brook Southampton. Also compelling are “Proem” and “Third Child” by Giles Goodland, who is a lexicographer in West London. The language in all of the poetry in this issue speaks to the larger mission of TSR, and represents the many different aspects of the human condition.

The memoir and nonfiction pieces within this issue are also wonderful reads. “Going to See the Bats” by John Lagenfeld, a former prisoner, tells of writes about a tradition that began in Lagenfeld’s childhood, and then continued after he was released from prison. His observations from childhood to adulthood, from innocent to parolee, are astounding. Sonya Bilocerkowycz’s “I Saw the Sunshine, Melting,” about the Chernobyl disaster, has a similar effect. Though Bilocerkowycz’s connection to Chernobyl is far removed, the attachments made by her are both stunning and riveting.

Between the prose and poetry, there are works of art, photography, and cartoons. Matt Collins and Grant Snider present cartoons that are both telling and wonderfully entertaining. The art, particularly that of Dan Tauge, who uses dollar bills to spell out messages with letters he finds on them, presents something that, in such a small space, is able to speak a powerful truth. Russell Muson, who photographs the water of Long Island, brings us breathtaking, inspiring images that remind us of the beauty and fragility of the world we live in.

A truly magnificent curation of media, The Southampton Review Winter/Spring 2018 volume is a pleasurable, significant, and captivating read.

TSR: The Southampton Review is published by Stony Brook Southampton. For more info visit thesouthamptonreview.com.

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