Here at PRISM, we love reading the great writing published by lit mags across the country and the world. Though it’s always difficult to choose favourites, here are a few pieces that stood out for us this spring and summer, chosen for you by our avid lit mag readers, Nicole Boyce and Clara Kumagai.
Nicole Boyce, Prose Editor
The New Quarterly – Issue 131
“Soldiers” by Ayelet Tsabari.
In the first of her two excellent non-fiction pieces in the TNQ issue titled War: An Uphill Battle, Ayelet Tsabari recounts a romantically charged friendship with an Iraqi immigrant that took place when she was living in Vancouver during her late twenties. The piece explores Jewish and Arab cultural identities while creating a vivid portrait of two people and their relationship. An absorbing and memorable read.
“Learning to Stand Still” by Ayelet Tsabari.
A powerful essay about risk, restlessness, and identity. The piece moves seamlessly through years of memories—from Tsabari’s childhood in Israel, to her years spent travelling after her army service, to her present-day reflections—all in the service of the question: what does it mean to live in harm’s way? Beautiful, honest, and intimate.
“Krasnagorsk-2” by Tamas Dobozy.
After discovering his deceased uncle’s collection of homemade pornographic movies, a man tries to understand his uncle’s secret life. A complex story subtly told.
The Malahat Review – Issue 187
“Mask” by Dora Dueck.
The winner of The Malahat Review’s 2014 novella prize tells the story of a daughter’s relationship with her father following his disfiguring injury in the Second World War. Rich characterization and slow-building tension make this novella a compelling read.
“Dead Ewes” by Madeline Sonik.
In this non-fiction piece, Sonik recalls an unusual encounter: searching for snow-buried sheep with Ted Hughes at a writers’ residence in England (“Dead Ewes”…get it?). Sonik contemplates the encounter in graceful, thought-provoking prose, focusing on Hughes’ relationship with Sylvia Plath.
Event – Issue 43.1
“Braces” by Hilary Dean.
Orthodontics meet romance in this hilarious story told from the perspective of a teenage girl. Fantastic voice, memorable characters, and unique details make this piece a must-read.
“My Mother’s Breasts” by Dave Margoshes.
A man contemplates beauty, fame and mortality when his mother—an actress famous for her breasts—is diagnosed with breast cancer. This is the kind of fluid, well-paced prose that you can lose yourself in. The piece is poignant but never melodramatic.
Plus, check out these pieces from members of the PRISM family:
“A Different Kind of Life” by 2013 – 14 Prose Editor Jane Campbell in Grain 41.3.
“Homecoming” by Prose Editorial Board member Christopher Evans in TNQ 130.
Clara Kumagai, Executive Editor, Promotions
Ricepaper, 19.1 Summer Issue 2014
“I Miss You Too” by Sherry Wong.
I may be biased but I always look forward to the next issue of Ricepaper, a magazine that often provides a platform for creative non-fiction, and particularly memoir or autobiography. In the Summer Issue, Sherry Wong’s “I Miss You Too” is such a piece, centered around the author’s relationship with her elderly mother as she decides to “learn computer”. Often funny—and recognizable to anybody with a computer-illiterate parent—it illustrates Wong’s Mom as a determined and demanding woman, and how Wong herself negotiates what it is to be a ‘good’ daughter.
The Antigonish Review, 178 Summer Issue 2014
“How to Survive” by Hollie Adams.
There are many narratives that tackle the subject of living with, or surviving, cancer, but Hollie Adams’ story stood out to me with its freshness and narrative voice. Written in the second person—which can sometimes be a gamble—this reads like advice from the protagonist to the reader. And it’s not comforting or cloying advice, either, but coming from a woman who is angry, frightened, regretful and honest.
Geist, 93 Summer Issue 2014
“Hibakusha” by Myles Wirth.
This short comic was one I made other people read after finding it in Geist. It tells the story of Tsutomu Yamaguchi, the only person recognized by the Japanese government as surviving both the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs. Wirth’s writing and illustration are simple, effective and poignant.
“Do You Have a Lighter?” by Erin Kirsh
Kirsh’s story came second in Geist’s 10th Annual Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest. Like all good flash or micro fiction, this story is more than the sum of its parts. Funny and sad, this is a moment in the protagonist’s life that allows the reader to see and imagine much more than what is on the page.
Room, 37.2 Summer Issue
“Writing, In Transit” by Najwa Ali
Najwa Ali won Room’s 2013 Creative Non-Fiction contest, and rightly so. Told in vignettes, memories, and poetic prose, it’s an exploration of native and foreign languages and what it means to grapple with both.
“Under the Skin”, by Nicola Harwood
“Under the Piece” was awarded second place in Room’s Creative Non-Fiction Contest, and though they are both unique and distinctive, there is in both a searching-and-finding theme. Harwood’s piece is also an exploration of identity, in this case the transgendered experience, and of questioning what that means, and how one can discover, reclaim and change it.
Of course, there are lots of other fantastic pieces out there, and fantastic literary magazines publishing them! Look for more in Part II of our post.