Monday, August 4, 2008

Memorious/Evan Lavender-Smith/Steven J. McDermott/Short Story Review

Nominating Editor: Jessica Murphy

Memorious: A Journal of New Verse and Fiction is an online journal that seeks to publish the highest quality literature from both established and emerging writers. Memorious will be celebrating its fifth anniversary with our next issue.

Work first published in Memorious has been included in the Best of the Net, and, most recently, Memorious has two poems and one story included in Best of the Web 2008, which will be released by Dzanc Books in July. Our contributors have been recipients of the Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, Best American Short Stories, and other literary prizes. Among our poets are Bob Hicok, Major Jackson, Steven Cramer, Gail Mazur, Thom Gunn, and a previously unpublished interview with Pablo Neruda. Among our fiction writers are Steve Almond, Paul Yoon, Benjamin Percy, Robin Lippincott, Ted Weesner, Jr., and interviews with Don Lee and Jim Shepard.

I nominate Evan Lavender-Smith's story, "At the Core," from Memorious 9, for many reasons. It is a wonderfully imaginative story, and I was struck both by Lavender-Smith’s lapidary prose and by the convincing way he rendered the child’s point of view. Emily Dickinson advises us to “tell it slant,” and this story does just this. By looking closely at the child narrator’s reverence for each of the possessions that he buries in his backyard near “the Earth’s mantle,” the author invites the reader to contemplate the much larger mysteries of both loss and healing. “At the Core” was a story that lingered with me after I'd first read it, and it lingers with me still.

Nominated Short Story: "At the Core" - Evan Lavender-Smith

Review: by Steven J. McDermott

As with the best of stories, Evan Lavender-Smith's "At the Core" reveals more and grows in power with repeated readings. The prose is concrete, seemingly realistic in style, yet gives way to the fantastical and the metaphoric. A story about desire and how the attempt to contain it expands until the containment itself is more a controlling force than the desires combated. Metaphorically a coming of age story: from nine to twelve; from toys to books to a person (expressed via her handwritten marginalia in the books). Father bonding, too.

Although the physical burying of the objects is an obvious a correlative of repression, Lavender-Smith deftly links it to the narrator's maturation. Initially able to only dig down one and a half feet (loved the way that is repeated as an incantation), as he grows older and stronger he's able to dig five and three-quarter feet down, down until the spade melts, down to the metaphorical source of power at the Earth's center.

"At the Core" is a wonderful story with old-school stylings that uses symbolism and metaphor to comment freshly on a core transformative experience.

Reviewer's Bio:

Steven J. McDermott's work has appeared in more than twenty online and print journals. He's the author of the story collection Winter of Different Directions and the editor and publisher of the online journal Storyglossia.

Thanks for visiting Five Star Literary Stories and reading about this short story.

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