Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Ice, Fire

Last night I finished Columbia: The Retrospective. I picked it up several months ago, thinking it would be a regular issue of Columbia and that it might be cool to see what kind of stuff they take. I didn't realize that it was a retrospect of the last 40 years till I got it home.

I slogged through it, and I can't say that I enjoyed it all that much. I mean, I have an appreciation for a lot of the stuff but I can't say it lit the world on fire. I guess it's just my tastes: it's that quiet feeling type of lit mag. It made me feel like I had been jettisoned back to college, this sort of feeling of someone telling me, "This is good," when I was just feeling like I was seeing form over function, or function over form, or something.

Among the stories I enjoyed were Children with Hangovers by Jonathan Lethem, The Bath, by Raymond Carver, Captain Thorazine, by Sam Lipsyte, and Broken, by Ha Jin. Tom Perrotta's The Wiener Man was highly readable but for some reason, here lately I have gotten a little sick of some flashback into a boy's childhood and his perspectives. I feel like I've seen several of these types of stories lately and generally it's the same "nostalgia" treatment or something. I don't know.

In the non-fiction category, Never Live Above Your Landlord by Phillip Lopate was pretty awesome -- although I didn't know that it was nonfiction until I looked at the table of contents. There's a poem by Lucille Clifton in there, and I liked that a lot, but I have a major soft spot for Lucille, since she worked at my college when I went there and was just a really super cool person -- and poet.

So anyway, yeah, the magazine was definitely competent and good and literary and all that good stuff, but when push came to shove, it just didn't get my blood pumping.

And despite the fact that I was already burning the midnight oil (naughty naughty, and yes, my little sleep disorder is, unfortunately, coming back, seeing how I didn't get to work till noon today), I picked up Gargoyle No. 48, read just a few pages, and went to bed with my brain on fire, feeling inspired and shook up and in just a few pages -- something Columbia in its entirety failed to do. I just love that. The dichotomy between the two is really pretty amazing.

Thanks for reading,



Blogger Hebdomeros said...

Columbia's never really inspired me. I don't know why. Lopate has a lot of good stuff, though. He's almost always in the best essays of the year.

Curious to know what you think about the Gargoyle issue. I liked it for the most part.

11:45 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

Okay, I'm glad to know it's not just me about Columbia. And it sounds like I don't need any other sample issues, judging by your response.

Yeah, it's a whole different world so far with Gargoyle. I'm pretty psyched to read the whole thing!

5:18 PM  
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4:42 AM  

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