For those who haven’t yet puzzled through this month’s puzzle—or for you crossword whizzes who just want to check your answers—click here for the key. The winner (submitting her solution approximately an hour after we posted He Hath No Fury) is Katherine Karlin, whose remarkable story “We Are the Polites” appears in our current issue. Congrats, Katy. Look for another puzzle next month. . . .
Archive for the ‘Games, Contests, & Diversions’ Category
A post for our passionate puzzlegoers—“goers” because working a puzzle is a bit like taking a journey, both physical (you cross spaces, traverse territory) and mental (you explore both your mind and the puzzle-maker’s). Not to mention, there’s a map—a tricky one, rather like those soiled and tattered bits of parchment in pirate movies, with signs that even intrepid adventurers can’t parse until they’re in the thick of things (dangling from unraveling rope bridges, in the clutches of cannibals, etc.). The title of this month’s puzzle (by, yep, fiction ed. Michael Griffith) is He Hath No Fury. (And yes, there’s a clue in that there adjusted adage.) As before, the first person to send the correct key to cincinnatireview[at]editors[dot]com gets a free issue! Time to head into the volcano, friends. Watch out for the glowing red stuff.
The first puzzle-solver to send us answers was the ever-so-sharp Laura Somerville (who won many—perhaps all—of our blue pencil prizes some years ago). Congrats, Laura! And the runner up (around 3 hours shy of first place) was contributor Katherine Karlin, whose haunting story “We Are the Polites” is in our current issue. Thanks for playing, Katherine!
Click here for the crossword key.
In the spirit of our Games, Contests, & Diversions category, we give you—our bloggy wogs (i.e., followers of our blog; and yes, we just made that up)—a second crossword challenge by come-lately cruciverbalist (and fiction editor) Michael Griffith. Regarding this month’s puzzle, Michael says, “Clues in the ‘ham//board’ format are after-and-before clues. You’re looking for the word that ends a two-word phrase beginning ‘ham’ and starts a two-word phrase that ends with ‘board.’ In this case, the answer is ‘sandwich.’”
As before, the first person to solve the puzzle will receive a free issue of his/her choice. Submit your entry by commenting on this post (click the title) or contact us at editors[at]cincinnatireview.com. Good luck, word wonks!
Click here to view (and print) the crossword.
As promised, and hopefully in time to save the remaining hairs on your head, here is the key to Michael’s first crossword.
Stay tuned for the next puzzle!
We’re on a bonus-material kick, so here’s some good stuff related to our contest—statements from the readers of your many amazing entries and a bit from the winners on their moolah-worthy works.
NOTE on the POETRY: We were impressed with the formal variety of this year’s contest submissions. The things you’ve done with a page! There were sonnets, of course, and even sestinas (a few!). There were poems about water in very long lines stretched out like rivers. There was a series of LA Haiku. There were prose poems, prose poems with holes to fall (or think) in, lineated proselike poems in which every line was end-stopped. There was a “Poem as a Field of Action.” There were elegies, histories, taxonomies, narratives, and lists. There were tiny, itty-bitty, microscopic lyrics. And the content! There was a poem for Thelma & Louise and one for Charlie Chaplin. There were pomegranates, epidemics, vibrators, and snow. You sent us your most romantic love poems, the finest tributes to your very best friends, your brightest joys, your deepest heartbreaks. And having to choose just one winner, for us, was the biggest heartbreak of all.
Chelsea Jennings (on her winning poem, “Elegy”): Birds appear often and with great symbolic power in elegies. Watching the birds that perch on the telephone wires outside my window or that have nested in my kitchen vent, I wondered what it might mean to live among these creatures that harbor our losses. I began to imagine every bird as bearing the weight of someone’s grief. “Elegy” is a record of the world created through that perspective—when the feeling of loss collides with the peculiar, everyday magic of birds.
NOTE on the PROSE: It was a pleasure to read so many well-crafted and accomplished stories. We got absurd and surreal stories, like the one featuring absurd postcards from D. H. Lawrence’s trip to Mexico in which Frieda has a prosthetic head. We received imaginative, magical realist stories—one starring a spell-casting farmer creating magical problems for encroaching suburbanites. You sent us meditative and emotionally moving personal essays, telling us (for example) about loving the film Father of the Bride and your conservative father when you eloped into same-sex marriage. We got lyrical and psychologically acute realist stories, like the one where a man has an existential crisis at a bird fair with a much younger girlfriend. You send us so many wonderful stories that to pick just one winner was downright traumatic. We had to do it, but we’ll never be the same again.
Tom Howard (on his winning story, “The Magnificents”): I started with the little scene in the beginning of the story: a dumbshow in which the character of Death is savagely beaten in front of cheering spectators on someone’s front lawn, as part of an extravagant birthday celebration. And I imagined this strange middle-aged guy standing and watching, hopelessly out of place—kind of lonely, holding a bottle of meat-flavored champagne, with his head halfway in the clouds. I didn’t think this world had much use for someone like him, someone without any real talent or ambition or ruthlessness. But I liked him. And it became (among other, stranger things) a story about giving him a chance to show what he, or anyone, is really worth.
Hey, CR followers. We’re breaking our summer skeleton-crew silence with a reminder, an update, and a treat.
First, don’t forget our summer contest. There’s some lovely moolah attached to the Schiff Prizes—and even if the eds don’t pick your piece to win, they may still want to publish it at our usual per-page rate ($30 for poetry, $25 for prose). In the event that we don’t opt to publish your stuff this time around, you still get a full year’s subscription to the mag, which includes bonus music features AND the 64-page, full-color graphic play MOTH, which we plan to mail out with our November issue. Illustrator Gable Ostley is hard at work and sending us new “rough inks” almost daily, and playwright Declan Greene is supplying captions and dialogue for Gabe’s sketches. The finished product is going to be amazing.
Now for the update: We just approved the final proof for our summer issue and expect the shipment in the next week or so. Our TEN-tacular issue includes last year’s Schiff Prize winners, three reviews that meditate on the staying power of the classic Moby-Dick, the usual complement of terrific stories and poems, another great translation feature, and—bonus—it will be accompanied by our latest music feature, composer Sarah Hutchings’s score for Jeff Gundy’s poem “March Ode.”
Today’s treat comprises a last delightful look at our winter number in the form of our (relatively) new blog feature Pas de Deux, in which contributors to a given issue interview each other about what intrigued, puzzled, or impressed them in the another writer’s story, poem, or essay. This installment features an exchange between Daniel A. Hoyt and Douglas Silver on the latter’s story “Found Peoples.” Check back in a couple of days for the switcheroo: Doug’s questions and Dan’s responses!
Daniel A. Hoyt: I have lots of questions about bodies and lots of questions that seem to beget more questions. “Found Peoples” starts with such gripping, visceral language as Feng, the story’s protagonist, examines a dead body he’s fished from the river. I was immediately convinced by the body; I was there with Feng as he “pinched the green eye, and the contact lens peeled off.” How did you create these artful and disturbing states of decay? What kind of research did you do? Is this a feat of imagination, of medical textbooks, of Google?
Douglas Silver: Google is generally my first stop—be it for a spicier Massaman curry recipe or the particulars of each stage of human decomposition. Numerous websites and academic journals provided an indispensable foundation in the science of decay. I read a lot and emailed a few experts and saw many images I would like to unsee. From there, it was a matter of backtracking—from ashes to animation—and deciding upon those details that provide a glimpse into the lives of the deceased.
DH: How about your depiction of China? How did you go about imagining and creating the physical setting and the rich sociological dynamics underpinning the story?
DS: China’s abysmal record on human rights and personal expression is infamous the world over. It is a dreadful place to be writer and a fascinating place to write about. Much of the societal and physical depictions were the product of research, but the narrative atmosphere was strongly influenced by my visit to China after graduating high school. When I arrived at the airport in Beijing, I noticed a sign that read Warning: Drug Trafficking is Punishable by Death in the R.O.C. Being 18 and an idiot, I thought this a superb photo-op. Before I could put away my camera, two officers approached me. One took my luggage and emptied it in front of everyone while the other demanded my passport. When they didn’t find drugs, they repacked me (admittedly neater than I had packed myself) and welcomed me to the country. When I told someone I met about this interaction, an American who had lived in China for years, she explained how lucky I was, how much worse it would have been if I were Chinese. I sought out that airport photograph when I began the story and kept asking myself what becomes of the unlucky.
DH: Because these questions are for a Pas de Deux feature, this question seems almost mandatory: Will you discuss the way you use foils in “Found Peoples”?
DS: One of the challenges of the piece was providing the reader a palpable sense of Feng’s former life. It seemed the most organic method to achieve this was through Feng’s encounters with those who were devoted to his family, and leveraging this juxtaposition for the benefit of both characterization and narrative tension. At some point, it occurred to me that it is Feng’s contact with the living through which the reader derives the clearest prospective into Feng’s past, i.e., the life he lost. Conversely, it is his dealings with the dead that most clearly render his present life—a paradigm that is upended by his time with the young woman’s body.
DH: There’s a strangely mundane yet magical moment in “Found Peoples” when Feng thinks of and explains the story of the prodigal son. To many members of a western audience and to many western characters, that explanation is unnecessary, but Feng has to think about it in a different way. How did you discover Feng’s point of view? How do you go about shaping point of view in your stories?
DS: I’m of the belief that the surest way to figure out a character is to determine what he or she most desires. If my character doesn’t have an urgent need, then I don’t have a character. At least not one I have any right to expect readers to invest in. I start by asking myself the basics: What does CHARACTER want? Why does CHARACTER want it? What is preventing CHARACTER from getting it? In Feng’s case, while he spends his days working vigilantly and dishonorably to afford basic human necessities, he desires at his core the safe return of his family and the communal acceptance that carries. But he is powerless to achieve that desire; his sole option is faith—something he has never possessed, what divided him from his family prior to their incarceration and what he can’t acquire without them. Once I realized the paradox of Feng as a man who doesn’t believe and therefore isn’t believed in (and therefore can’t believe), I felt like I might have character worth following.
DH: This one may seem like an assignment rather than a question, but I wish more people would read Our Mutual Friend (you too, Gentle Reader of The Cincinnati Review blog!), so here goes: As I first read “Found Peoples,” I immediately thought of Gaffer Hexam, the “night bird” in Our Mutual Friend, who, like Feng, fishes corpses from a river and strips them of valuables. Here’s a link to the opening chapter, when we first meet Gaffer and his daughter, Lizzie. Doug, I know you were initially inspired by a news article about men who retrieve dead bodies from rivers in China, but had you read Our Mutual Friend? What kind of dialogue do you see between your story and the opening of Dickens’s novel?
DS: I’m embarrassed and grateful that I had not heard of Our Mutual Friend. Having now read the first chapter, I am not sure I would have had the confidence to write the piece had I known that none other than Charles Dickens had employed a similar conceit, especially given that both stories start out in medias res. While it appears Gaffer and Feng are not driven by similar desires, both have no qualms about plundering the dead. Gaffer’s rhetorical statement “Has a dead man any use for money? Is it possible for a dead man to have money? What world does a dead man belong to? ‘Tother world. What world does money belong to? This world. . . .” places a premium on corporeality similar to that of Feng, whose ken is viewed through the lens of materialism. Again, I have read one chapter, so my analysis might prove to be total bunk. (But I’m enjoying it thus far, as might you, Gentle Reader of The Cincinnati Review blog!)
Yep, it’s our tenth. And if you’ve been reading our blog posts and status updates, you know celebratory mailings and events are spilling like silk scarves out of the CR tophat. But there’s one we haven’t mentioned yet—the equivalent of the coveted rainbow scarf, rainbow meaning it’s got it all, that we’re going all out, or all in, or a combination of those and some other confusing, very nearly meaningless phrases. Yes, friends, we mean we’re having a gala. In Seattle. When many of you fine writer types will be there. A gala involving fancy hors d’oeuvres (like shrimp toast), and free drinks at the extremely sleek-looking bar, and a huge saltwater fishtank (a WALL of FISH), and a synapse-leaping lineup of readers (Kevin Prufer, Jamie Quatro, Roger Reeves, and Joanna Scott), not to mention a lot of extremely experienced listeners. There’s only one hitch: You have to be invited. We wish there were shrimp toast for all, but the seas are already overfished, so we have to be careful of the numbers. Still, we want to see our most passionate subscribers, those of you who murmur lines from our pages in your sleep, who develop restless leg syndrome when you know a new issue is in the mail. To you—actually only five of you—we offer a chance to attend our swanky offsite soiree (Friday, February 28, from 7 to 10) and to bring a friend. In other words, the first five people to open the current issue of CR and respond to this post with the first four words (a bit of dialogue) on page 71 get the CR tenth-anniversary full monty. By which we mean an invitation and a spare (for a pal)—not that we will get naked. Okay, Trapp might get naked.
We won’t approve the responses until we receive five—which means you can’t cheat by copying someone else. Submit your entry by commenting on this post (click the title). Subscribers, run for your 10.2’s!
So: February. Did you know that this month’s observances include American Crossword Puzzle Week and National Fettuccine Alfredo Day? Until a few minutes ago, neither did we, because the miseries of February have blinded us to its less horrendous aspects. But we’re trying to make it more bearable by having a bit of fun with February in our new game of the month (our last one, unfortunately, was lame, or dull, or something that resulted in no one even trying). To make up for it, we’re going to award five prizes this time out. We want you to win. Really.
How to play? Tell us what February’s like. Come at us with your best metaphors and other literary lampoonings. Here are a few examples to get you started:
Short and brutal—a Napoleon of a month. —Alli Hammond
February makes a bridge, and March breaks it. —George Herbert
Kath says February is always like eating a raw egg;
Peter says it’s like wearing a bandage on your head;
Mary says it’s like a pack of wild dogs who have gotten into medical waste
and smiles because she clearly is the winner.
Submit your entry by commenting on this post (click the title) by Friday, February 15. Writers of the five best similes win their choice of thermos, slingpack, or CR back issue (2.2 excluded). Good luck!
We’ve stocked up on the essentials as we finish our copy editing and prepare to send the next issue (due out in May!) to our amazing typesetter and designer. Over time, we’ve collected an odd mix of things on our desks: highlighters, flavored waters, and a sharp knife on one; a king-cake baby, Starbucks mug, and the AWP Writer’s Chronicle on another; and a ham sandwich, Irish breakfast tea packets, and a piece of paper describing proofreading marks on a third.
A) Becky Adnot-Haynes, associate editor
B) Lisa Ampleman, associate editor
C) Don Bogen, poetry editor
D) Michael Griffith, fiction editor
E) Nicola Mason, managing editor
F) Matt O’Keefe, senior associate editor
G) Brian Trapp, assistant editor
If you get that answer right, you’ll receive a free slingpack, thermos, back issue (excluding 2.2), or we can add an issue to your current subscription—your choice.
And BONUS!! If, in addition to explaining whose drawer it is, you can say WHY it is filled Lay’s potato chips, you’ll receive a FREE one-year subscription.
Leave your comments by clicking on the title above. (Volunteers and former staff are ineligible for this game. You people know too much.)