Literary Magazine Reviews – Vol.24, 1&2

Posted May 21, 2007

Alaska Quarterly Review

Volume 24 Numbers 1 & 2

Spring/Summer 2007


Reviewed by Josh Maday

Alaska Quarterly Review is approaching its 25th anniversary, which alone attests to its position among the top literary magazines in the nation. Simply opening to the first piece in this issue, Samuel Ligon’s story Drift and Swerve,” readers will learn (or relearn) that AQR surviving and thriving for a quarter-century is certainly no surprise. Ligon’s story takes the reader on a ride-along where a drunk driver may not be so dangerous when a force of nature, like a normal if slightly dysfunctional family of four (again, pretty much normal), happens to share the same stretch of highway. Mike Harvkey’s One Owner, Part II: Won’t Last is a haunting story of a man-on-the-run who stumbles untouched in the wake of a mysterious plague, finally settling with a family in Mexico. Eventually, he learns that he has not escaped, he cannot; he must face the past that hounds him and account for what he has done. Harvkey renders the protagonist’s consciousness with fresh language, brilliantly weaving the story’s haunting, hallucinatory atmosphere. In Falling Through, Roy Kesey hands over the camera through which we see a gritty underground operation complete with thugs, their fearsome boss, a prostitute, a deformed retarded guy in a cellar, and maybe even something like redemption. More excellent fiction comes from Michael Downs, Jack Driscoll, Ruth Moose, and Marie Sheppard Williams. Lawrence Levine’s Territory, originally produced at the Bottle Factory Theater, is a one-act play where an already-cracked relationship may in fact shatter at the slightest nudge from the past. The latter third of this issue showcases moving and insightful work by native Alaskans, giving readers a glimpse of the “human dimensions of the 49th state, the world beside and behind the travel brochures. Poets include Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Susie Silook, Eva Saulitis, John Morgan, Tom Sexton, Rachel Rose, Anne Caston, Michele Harmeling, Eric Heyne, Elizabeth Bradfield, and more. Prose includes works by Marybeth Holleman, Frank Soos, Carol Kaynor, Seth Kantner. Over 30 works of poetry and prose in the special feature entitled “Hidden Alaska offer a glimpse of just that, the hidden and the mysterious as well as the wild and the everyday of being and living Alaskan. Overall, this is a solid and diverse issue, continuing a nearly quarter-century tradition of publishing a wide range and high quality of work that readers have come to know and expect from Alaska Quarterly Review.