Archive for December, 2015

New Books from CR Staff

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Exciting stuff happening here—not just with the mag but with the lovely staff members who are shepherding the work you good people are sending our way.

joseAssistant Ed. Jose Angel Araguz, for example, is on the cusp of releasing a new collection, Everything We Think We Hear. In his words, the volume “brings the prose poem and flash fiction structure of my chapbook Reasons (not) to Dance and takes it in a more personal direction, adds a little more guacamole and South Texas to my usual rhetorical and imagistic leanings.” For a sample of Jose’s work, click here. More information about the book can be found at Jose’s site:

rochelle-hurtAssistant Ed. Rochelle Hurt’s second collection just won the 2015 Barrow Street Book Prize. In Which I Play the Runaway will be released in fall 2016 and according to Rochelle includes “many of the poems you may have seen [in journals] over the last few years: dioramas, odd town names, Dorothy Gale, storms, etc.” To read the volume’s title poem, click here.

Congrats to these two talented (not to mention delightful) people!

Shipping Week!

Tuesday, December 8th, 2015



Our winter issue has arrived! We’re busy stuffing, taping, stamping, and hauling boxes to the mail room. In addition to fiction by Michael Byers, Wendy Rawlings, and Nicholas Montemarano, not to mention poetry by Carl Phillips, MRB Chelko, and Rebecca Hazelton—as well as two primo pieces of creative nonfiction—we’re running another crossword by fiction editor Michael Griffith. He describes it as his toughest one yet! As we’ve done in the past, we’re offering a bonus issue to the first few folks who email us the correct grid (we’ll add it to your subscriptions). Shoot your puzzle solution to editors[at]cincinnatireview[dot]com by Friday, December 18, to win!




Holiday Gift Sub Offer

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

PapuaSpiritThe holiday spirit is upon us. Really. She’s standing here in the office, and she looks something like this gal on the right:

She wants us to give our loyal readers a holiday deal, and we cannot deny her . . . because we’re a little afraid of her. So for those of you who order a CR subscription between now and Friday, December 11, we will add a GIFT subscription gratis. Two subs for the price of one. Our shopping cart isn’t set up for such extraordinary beneficence, so you’ll have to contact us at editors[at]cincinnatireview[dot]com to take us up on our offer. Aw, heck, we’ll even throw in freebie copies of our graphic play Moth with the first gift issues; that’ll make our friend’s little blue spots dance. We have the cutest gift cards to include, too, so your lit-loving pal will know whom to thank for the arrival of his or her snail-mail handsomes.

Our winter issue drops next week. . . . Perfect timing, no? Imaging the yellow lips above peeling back into a weird yet happy smile. You want to see that happen. Right?

What We’re Reading: Department of Speculation

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Samantha Edmonds: When I offered to write a review of Jenny Offill’s novel Department of Speculation, what I really wanted to do was open up a forum to gush. It’s not every day I find a book that I don’t simply enjoy or even admire, but that moves something within me, as a reader, as a writer, as a human.

mindsetI want to recommend this book to everyone I have ever known (and, indeed, in the weeks since I’ve read it, I very nearly already have). I want to reread and reread this book until I’ve memorized every line. I want to write it a love letter (you’re reading the result) and scrawl in the margins sappy pick-up lines reminiscent of Erin Hanson’s poems: Did you drink a cup of the universe? For there are stars within your soul.

What makes this book so out of this world? Well, traditional book-review formula maintains I include here a summary of the novel, roughly half the length of the review itself. This will prove hard to do.

Plot: A man and woman fall in love, marry. They have a child. The man has an affair. The woman tries to pick up the pieces of the broken marriage and paste them back together.

This is not what the book is about.

“Antelopes have 10x vision. . . . That means on a clear night, they can see the rings of Saturn.”

“Blue jays spend every Friday with the devil, the old lady at the park told me.”

“Three questions from my daughter: Why is there salt in the sea? Will you die before me? Do you know how many dogs George Washington had?”

            “Don’t know. Yes. Please. 36.”

shatteredThese are just a few moments from Department of Speculation, a novel in fragments. It can be consumed in one sitting; there’s more white space than text on many of its pages. Perhaps this form is meant to reflect the character’s shattered mental state. Perhaps Offill just finds this mode of writing more invigorating and exciting. Perhaps it is meant to invoke something strange and true in the associative habit of human thoughts.

A conversation between husband and wife. A fact about space and the universe. Something weird the child said.

A tickling in the brain.

Reader, figure it out.

All the answers are in there.


The white space.

An example: The narrator says, “So lately I’ve been having this recurring dream: In it, my husband breaks up with me at a party, saying, I’ll tell you later. Don’t pester me. But when I tell him this, he grows peevish. ‘We’re married, remember? Nobody’s breaking up with anybody.’”

And in the next paragraph or fragment: “‘I love autumn,’ she says. ‘Look at the beautiful autumn leaves. It feels like autumn today. Is autumn your favorite time of year?’ She stops walking and tugs on my sleeve. ‘Mummy! You are not noticing. I am using a new word. I say autumn now instead of fall.’”

Her daughter is using a new word to talk about something old, something familiar. Rather like the way that people say “divorce” once they’re married, instead of “breaking up.”

Do you feel that tickle in your brain? Like you almost get it? But then the fragment ends, the white space looms, and you are left staring at the page, trying to connect the pieces. Department of Speculation is a novel that demands reader participation.

In the tradition of Renata Adler’s Speedboat and David Markson’s Reader’s Block, Offill has written a book that recasts what it means to be a novel: It is a form that shouldn’t work, but does. She has taken pieces of a shattered life and of the incomprehensible universe and arranged them in a such a way that when the novel ends you are star-struck, your brief visit with its world not allowing you the time to understand the amazing things you have experienced, and your mind already begging for a chance to return to it.