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Volume 30 Number 2
Review by Denise Hill
Reading for review forces the consumption of entire publications in very short periods of time: not recommended for this particular journal. This is the kind of publication that would make a reader grateful for her own copy to read and linger over at intervals.
“Driving with the Dead” by Cavenaugh Kelly reads like non-fiction. The character, a physical therapist, drives to home visits for patients, several of whom end up on “The Board” – where deaths are charted in the office. Kelly gives insight to the difficult daily struggle these professionals have both personalizing and de-personalizing death.
“The Nonlocal Heart” by Patricia Monaghan is an essay on her Irish heritage and sense of place in the U.S., a sense that is surface at best, lacking the deeper attachment heritage provides each of us to our “homeland.” She writes: “I do not live in a place I love. In this, I am more typical than not.” This commentary is threaded together with discussions of quantum theory – Einstein, Ulsterman, Bell, Bohm – concluding on the concept of self as particle, the spinning, chaotic nature of our lives that “is the pattern that connects.”
The special section of this issue focused on journalism. JP Briggs’s lead essay, “Aristotle’s Unintended Consequences,” was an exciting read for all the connections it makes between philosophy, literature, contemporary media, mythology, and brain theory. Briggs explains how/why news stories are molded around Aristotelian components of story, thus marginalizing the full truth of reality for the sake of story. It ends with the “grand resolution” that “Our most significant stories alert us to the reality that something vital is always left out of the story. In fact, the story’s vitality – even a news story – depends on our understanding of what it cannot include.” This essay, combined with Edward A. Hagan’s “News Story or Sports Story? The Hypnosis of Ersatz Triumph &Defeat,” provides a sound deconstruction of contemporary media, with Vivian B. Martin’s “The Usual Suspects: Typecasting in the News,” a revealing look at archetypes in daily news.
The Noam Chomsky interview, though it seems cut short and isn’t more than what he has said elsewhere, enhances this section and is a good primer for those not familiar with his works. Likewise for the Howard Zinn interview. Vanessa Furse Jackson’s story, “Write to Learn,” was almost painful to read through. I predicted its ending, yet fought against it: how a new teacher’s feedback directs a student to write more academically, resulting in the suppression of a beautiful story beautifully told. Every writing teacher should read this. Now.
There is so much more to be said about this publication, but better to be said: “It should be read.” And take your time. This is smart writing that deserves not to be rushed.