ISSUES | summer 2009

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32.2 (Summer 2009): "Messy Art"

Featuring work by Ellen Bass, Jeffrey Condran, Richard Dokey, Ernest Finney, Bob Hicok, Kimberly Johnson, Victoria Lancelotta, Andrew Levy, Frannie Lindsay, Cheryl Strayed, and an interview with Benjamin Percy.

CONTENT FROM THIS ISSUE

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Art

Jun 01 2009

Terrible Beauty: The Visual Poems of Clarence John Laughlin

Before falling for photography, Clarence Laughlin had wanted to be a poet. As a young man he immersed himself in the French symbolists, particularly Baudelaire. Unable to sell his prose poems and wanting to quit his job as a bank teller, he bought an inexpensive camera, built a homemade darkroom and taught himself the fundamentals of photography. His goal was to be the Baudelaire of the camera. He called his early results “visual poems” and meant for the images to be explicated like poetry. For Laughlin, objects possessed an intricate web of psychological associations and a multitude of meanings.

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Nonfiction

Jun 01 2009

Munro Country

A shaky, sickening glee washed through me and then drained away almost immediately, replaced by a daffy disbelief: Alice Munro had written to me. Alice! Munro! Those two words were a kind of Holy Grail to me then: the lilting rise and fall of Alice, the double-barreled thunk of Munro. Together they seemed less like a name than an object I could hold in my hands-a stoneware bowl, perhaps, or a pewter platter, equal parts generous and unforgiving. They bore the weight of everything I loved, admired and understood about the art and craft of fiction, everything I ached to master myself.

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Fiction

Jun 01 2009

Whatever Happens

“That was Matthew,” he says. “He’s in jail. He said last night-whoever he was with, somebody new, I didn’t recognize the name-I don’t know. He doesn’t remember much. He said they were drinking and then they were fighting and now he’s in jail.” We’re facing each other across our cluttered kitchen, Joe with the phone and me with a wooden spoon, silent-two people who are rarely silent together. Hot oil spatters the back of my hand, and I move the pan off the heat.

“Did he-”

“I don’t know,” Joe says. “All I know is what he told me. I assume she called the cops and they took him in.”

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Fiction

Jun 01 2009

Sebastian and Roscoe

The eight weeks of basic training at Fort Ord were just about what he’d expected. Then he got his orders. Waited, in a set of starched khakis that felt too stiff, too thin in the October wind, with a dozen other soldiers for the bus to the Army Language School in Monterey. It was already an hour late. Another private behind him griped, “Hurry up and wait,” and he turned to see who, but it wasn’t anyone he recognized. When they finally boarded, the hurry-up soldier sat down beside him, stuck out his hand and said, “Roscoe Drummond.”