April 13th, 2012 / 2:00 pm
Literary Magazine Club

{LMC}: Salt Hill 28


I admire Salt Hill because of the  strong writing found in each issue and the impeccable production values. I first learned about the magazine at AWP in 2009, when I came across their table and found  two issues, one a hardbound book, and the other, a paperback filled with glossy, color pages. In both instances, the design was gorgeous and clean and showed that the editors valued both form and function. Each issue looks different, not radically so, but enough to get the reader’s attention and in each issue there is always something that stuns me. Salt Hill 28 did not disappoint in this regard. Laura Eve Engel’s, “For You Out of Soft Materials,” is one of those poems I loved starting with the title, all the way through the last line. There is no unnecessary flourish in the language and still each stanza evokes something really interesting. I loved lines like Once I admitted I made my face/for you out of soft materials,/so you’d have a place to put all your fingers and the final stanza, There are all these ways/we can decide not to be very tender. Another standout was the work of H.L. Hix, and “Counterexamples,” with the last line, “You say what we can imagine matters most. I say what we cannot.” “Gown Rain,” by Sarah Rose Etter was as imaginative as I have come to expect from her. The sky is raining gowns, you see, an unstoppable downpour of fabric. The writing is as strong as the premise and the ending is both satisfying and unsettling. The strongest work in a very strong issue was, Maile Chapman’s exceedingly smart “Foreign Wedding.”  There’s a woman, likable in her unlikability, attending a foreign wedding, not connecting to anyone, just out of a marriage, having awkward encounters as she takes in France, and you think with all that you know where the story is going. “Foreign Wedding,” is not going there and the ending is not only unexpected, it is quite chilling. The issue also contains art and an interview with Dana Spiotta, author of Stone Arabia.

Have you read Salt Hill 28? What did you think? What pieces stood out to you? Why? Why is Ben Mirov’s “Destruction Manual” oriented differently? Did some of the art disturb you?

Let’s talk in the comments.

Coming up, an interview with the editors and a guest post about “Foreign Wedding.”

If you’re interested in writing a guest post or some other feature related to Salt Hill 28, get in touch by e-mailing me at roxane at htmlgiant.com. Topics you might consider discussing include the design, content, overall aesthetic, whether the magazine met your expectations, what the magazine contributes to the literary scene, etc. You might also do an in-depth analysis of one writer’s work, etc. There are no limits.



Ciaran Berry, Bruce Bond, Brett DeFries, Jennifer Denrow, Laura Eve Engel, John Gallaher, H.L. Hix, Bridget Lowe, Ben Mirov, Oliver de la Paz, Wang Ping, Nate Pritts, Zachary Schomburg, John Skoyles, Tony Trigilio, Dara Wier


Mark Baumer, Maile Chapman, Sarah Rose Etter, James Robison, Jason Schwartz


Interview of Dana Spiotta by Rachel Abelson, Interview of Maile, Chapman by Chanelle Benz and Natalie Rogers, Interview of Mary, Caponegro by John Madera, Amy Benson, Casey Wiley


Frederik Heyman, Andrew Jilka, Anders Oinonen

Abby Koski talks about the issue briefly at Vouched Books. This is a beautiful magazine and one you do not want to miss.

LMC Administrivia:

Future club selections:

May 2012: Trnsfr
July 2012: Uncanny Valley
September 2012: J Journal: New Writing on Justice
November 2012: Unstuck

Stay tuned for special offers and giveaways for these magazines.

There’s also a Google Group with light posting about literary magazines and club announcements. If you want to join the group or want more information about the LMC, if you’re an editor who wants your magazine featured, etc, send me an e-mail. To summarize: however you want to participate please get in touch or watch this space in November when hopefully, we’ll have a great discussion about an interesting literary magazine.


  1. William VanDenBerg

      James Robison’s “Zurich” and Sarah Rose Etter’s “Gown Rain” are battling it out for my favorite. The dialogue in “Zurich” is great, the kind that seems effortless but is very, very hard. 

      However, “Gown Rain” has its stacks of wonderful sentences:
      “I mouthed at the yellow fabric for air.”
      “Old green chiffon twirled around black-and-white, polka-dot dresses until they went weak on the grass, became liquid fabric there.”
      “The wind riled itself up around me, pushing at my skin and hair.”
      But I’m a sucker for descriptions of fabric. 

      I assumed that Ben Mirov’s poem was oriented vertically because it wouldn’t fit horizontally. It also has a playfulness that seems appropriate to the shift in orientation.

      I can’t make any sense of the tense change in the last sentence of “Sgt. Slaughter” by Casey Wiley.

      The art made me wish more journals included this much visual work. Does anyone have any recommendations of other journals that do that?

  2. Anonymous

      Robison’s got the voltage.  Why was I ignorant of him?  He had, like, a slew of genius stories in The New Yorker back in the day (see RUMORS)?  Jason Schwartz is intense and haunting in a way I can’t put my finger on. Those taut syntactic chambers . . .

      Overall, this issue is so light on its feet and powerful of punch (“powerful of punch”?).  Aesthetically, both its design and content seem to defamiliarize the lit journal form in a way that renews and excites.  It comes through in a single transmission, holds its surface tension cover to cover.  Is promisingly strange and angled.  

  3. Anonymous

      I got Salt Hill a while ago. I loved the cover and still love it. Since you ask, the disturbing thing about the artwork was how hard it was, initially, to distinguish between Frederik Hayman (cover) and Andrew Jilka (first page). It’s not just the pencil drawings; Jilka has a motif of repetition, and Heyman often has symbiotic figures, one eating or extruding the other. So it’s funny and fitting that they would fantasmatically double for one another–though of course they are ultimately distinct. 

      In the weeks since I got Salt Hill 28 (but whose fault is it that I post so late? I joined LMC; I could’ve propsosed a guest post at any time) these half-read books piled up on top of it next to my Orbital Lounger (TM):

      écritures contemporaines 8

      Unstuck issue 1

      The Gnostic Religion, Hans Jonas

      The Sense of an Ending, Frank Kermode

      Andrei Platonov, The Foundation Pit

      The Complete Short Prose, Samuel Beckett

      Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis, Norman O. Brown

      Animal Shelter 2

      Affective Mapping, Jonathan Flatley

      I liked “Foreign Wedding.” I first read Maile Chapman a long time ago, some lovely spooky short story in Post Road, I think. Brian Evenson also has a short story about driving in the south of France, with a similar trope of menace in the brilliant sunlight. The Ripley-esque grotesque, I guess. In Chapman’s version, now that I think about it, there’s a suggestion of the horror that might ensue if our aggressive wishes were actually effective. On the one hand, a world of arbitrary conventions (weddings, RSVPs, invitations to dinner) and ill-concealed menace, and, on the other hand, unexpected irruptions that are not the menace you were focused on.

       I hope I have not spoiled that story. 

      The other piece I liked a lot (read, “other piece I read”) was the interview with Mary Caponegro. I read and liked all the interviews–Chapman, Spiotta, Caponegro–but I felt especially drawn to Caponegro: her un-bitter regret that the virtuousic is not much read these days, her attraction to philosophy which she modestly says she can’t respond to except in her artistic process. 

      Everyone should read the final chapter of Jonathan Flately’s Affective Mapping, and “The Turn to Spinoza” in Apocalypse and/or Metamorphosis, and Berardi’s few pages on cynicism in Animal Shelter 2. And Matt Derby’s story “Dokken” in Unstuck, not to slight any of the other pieces in Unstuck, I just haven’t gotten to them yet and that is the LMC topic for a few months from now.