Tishman Review (April 2018)
I am reviewing this book, a bit less than 150 pages of poetry, short fiction, and art and photography, largely because it had a story in it from an author I am acquainted with online whose writings have a great deal to do about the Civil War . This story, “War Hero,” deals with a man’s attempt to understand the heroism of a person he knew as a child who ended up having adopted the heroic stories of the Confederate soldiers he had guarded as a prison guard on Johnston Island, Ohio as his own as a way of making himself appear to be more heroic. The story itself was deeply fascinating, full of twists and concerns about truth and memory and heroism and the horrors of war, and it fit in well with the collection as a whole. Indeed, in reading the stories and poetry included here I realized my own writing, which tends to linger on problems of memory and issues of mental health and childhood, would fit well with the works that were published here and that likely are part of the review’s general body of work.
This issue of the review included a variety of works by authors, although most of them were definitely on the downbeat side. We have a woman married to an Israeli who struggles with her longing to go back home to San Francisco without leaving her husband, who refuses to live in that place, in two short nonfiction accounts. We have photos and artwork that include tasteful nudes and nature photos that sometimes relate to the stories they are placed around. We have a variety of short stories that deal with memory and loss. We also have some of what is called “craft” talk, which includes a book review and the discussion of someone writing about their dysfunctional family background, something I can relate to pretty well myself. There are also a variety of poems, most of them short and thoughtful, many of them with unconventional formats and large words to impress the reader. By and large the works blend well together and demonstrate an approach to writing as therapy as a whole, as it appears that many of these people either intentionally or unintentionally use their own (often painful) life stories to inform the short writings that are included here for readers to enjoy. Despite its downbeat nature, I could see myself contributing to such a magazine or reading future issues of it.
Obviously, this is the sort of book that you are most likely to read if you have a story or poem or photo or drawing included in it. I am not sure of the reading audience for literary journals, not being someone who tends to receive them, but as someone who enjoys writing I always appreciate the fact that there are people who like to print the writings of others and pay the writers at least something for those submissions, which does help writing pay for at least some people. I do appreciate the ability to read the book and having gotten the link from the author acquaintance of mine. Whether or not you enjoy this book as a reader yourself will depend on how much you are fond of looking at downbeat therapeutic writing from people who have used that alchemy of creation to turn the sorrows and stresses and pressures and difficulties of lives into imaginative stories and poetry for other people to appreciate themselves.
 See, for example: