Alaska Quarterly Review: Fall and Winter 2014, edited by Ronald Spatz. Volume 31. No. 3&4

Though it’s produced in Anchorage, there’s nothing provincial about the Alaska Quarterly Review. Over the 32 years and counting of its existence AQR stories have won O. Henry Awards and Pushcart Prizes, while its essays, fiction and poetry have also been honored in all the annual “best of” volumes, including The Best American Mystery Stories. This latest issue features exquisite cover art (Richard J. Murphy’s “Window frost at -38, Fairbanks, Alaska”) and nearly 250 pages of prose and pictures, as well as a full range of suspenseful fiction, edgy memoir, and highly innovative experimental work. You couldn’t ask for more from a literary quarterly.

To mention just three items: “Curios” by Simon Kamerow depicts a pawnshop that specializes in the odd and magical; “The Suicide Disease,” by Mary Jones is a harrowing memoir of a life-destroying condition caused by a pair of running shoes; and a special section titled “Out of Bounds: A Celebration of Genre-Defiant Work” presents a suite of multi-media art projects that mix poetry with performance or graphics. In the funny “Burning Questions for Burning Bushes” a woman dressed in foliage dances out a question that a second woman, also dressed like a bush, interprets and types up as a poem. In one of two “Code Poems” B.J. Best writes a Christmas story in lines of Basic computer language.

There’s much more to enjoy, marvel at, and shake your head over in this issue of AQR, which by the way draws its contributors from all across the United States. It remains one of our best, and most imaginative, literary magazines.

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