The twenty-two stories in Jensen Beach’s debut collection, For Out of the Heart Proceed, center on family and in particular father and son relationships. The collection is peopled with troubled characters struggling to make sense of their circumstances, choices, and connection to others. What is perhaps most compelling about these stories are the interesting and memorable ways the characters grapple with issues of faith: Faith in themselves, others, the world, and the divine. There is great efficiency to Beach’s prose and a precise order to this collection that juxtaposes the disturbances and sometimes chaos of these characters’ lives, conflicted characters often controlled by fear.
For Out of the Heart Proceed contains three Parts linked by how its men do, and sometimes don’t, transcend their fears and difficult situations. In the first story, “Training Exercise,” a father and young son must brave the dark and what appears to be a menacing, male stranger in their back garden:
July 20th, 2012 / 12:00 pm
Unknown Arts by William Walsh (Keyhole Press, 2012) is a collection of critical appropriations sourced from James Joyce’s Ulysses, Finnegan’s Wake, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Dubliners, and more. A book about Joyce’s books, Unknown Arts can be read as analysis, distortion, homage, and/or a work of art all of its own. It is doubtless a contentious book that will likely add fuel to the ongoing and often fiery debates around contemporary criticism, the imprint of influence, and the nature of creativity. Controversial or not, the collection is a valuable artifact that allows rare access into what are for many the impenetrable works of a literary master.
Here’s an excerpt from one of the many texts in the collection appropriated from Ulysses (1922), titled “Sunny Jim 2”:
April 2nd, 2012 / 12:00 pm
NOON Annual 2012
Ed. Diane Williams
$12 / Purchase directly from NOON
After reading NOON Annual 2012, I again dwelled on the nature and the value of the short-short story. I despair that short-short works are sometimes disparaged as underdeveloped and unworthy, and this issue of NOON proves the perfect response to such cynicism and dismissals.
First, the design and aesthetics of this literary magazine are first-rate. The book is smooth to the touch, bears weight, and courts the eye. There’s a smell from these pages that, while not pleasant per se, is definite. Definite is not to be underrated. This book is elegant and glamorous. Even the spine is a standout. I pored so long over Bill Hayward’s black and white photograph on page 107, the work bears my countless greasy prints. I love how the subjects here seem afloat, as if there is no ground, as if the whole point is to throw out our assumptions and re-see. Animal portrait photographer Valerie Schaff’s cover is memorable and her self-portrait on the inside cover is stunning and affecting. She writes, “When I am present, I am beyond the notion of predictability.” This quote proved my guide for the reading and the appreciation of the entire issue.
March 9th, 2012 / 1:00 pm