Literary Journal Review: Greatest Uncommon Denominator (GUD) Magazine Issue 5

April 14, 2010

Greatest Uncommon Denominator (GUD) Magazine: Issue 5, Winter 2009

Editors: Kaolin Fire, Debbie Moorhouse, Julia Bernd, J. Dale Humphries, Sal Coraccio, Sue Miller, & Michael Ellsworth

The advance copy of GUD Issue 5 for today’s review was provided by the editors at GUD Magazine.

Read GUD 5 Contributor Bios here.

Follow @GUDmagazine on Twitter

Most literary journals that I enjoy possess just a few jewels which I treasure – the stories and poems that draw me back to the shelf to reread over the years. What makes GUD Magazine different is that I can’t pick “just a few” favorite jewels to share with you today – the contents are really that good.*

Whenever I pickup a lit journal, I always flip to a poem first. Usually I scan the index by title, or pick through the pages until the shape of a stanza attracts my eye. My introduction to GUD was the poem “Suggestions for Distributing Your Poems” by Tammy Ho Lai-Ming. For me, her piece sets the tone for the entire issue: playful, thoughtful, passionate… reaching. In this poem, and in all the works selected for GUD Issue 5, I find authors seeking connection and affirmation, casting their bottled messages out upon the purple sea.

Why a purple sea? Well why not? GUD Magazine offers a delicious buffet of speculative fiction, and so much more. Where else could you pick à la carte between a “Deadman on the Titanic” (Alicia Adams) or “a self-made billionaire, a man who had spent his childhood in poverty, the son of a Martian pig farmer” (Andrew N. Tisbert) served side by side with the birth of the PC and “the mother of all demos” (Paul Spinrad) ? I don’t use the metaphor of limitless preferential dining lightly – there’s something to please every reader in GUD Issue 5, and there’s nothing that doesn’t warrant a second and third read.

Ready to visit another place? Another time? Start with Nature’s Children by T. F. Davenport, Aftermath by Isabel Cooper Kunkle, or Getting Yourself On by Andrew N. Tisbert. I admire writers like these who can strike that harmonious balance between confusion and clarity – I enjoy the puzzle of trying to figure out what’s going on, but I get frustrated if I can’t get some kind of foothold so that I can follow the story. These authors make you work – but not too hard – to imagine and create along with them. They succeed by inviting you to pour your own humanity into their seemingly-alien characters, and take a look around.

Of the many surprises I found in Issue 5, Sweet Melodrama by Tristan D’Agosta was one of the finest. I don’t know how the editors secured this piece, but I just want to say thank you all around. Lovers of all things Shakespearean will swoon over this tasty dessert. And for the logophiles, “The Grammar of Desire” by Paul J. Kocak offers choice, lusty locution.

Another great feature of GUD 5 is the selection of works which remove you only a tiny step from “normal reality.” These works are a little more insidious – they’re more apt to get under your skin and haunt you for a few days. The Tiger Man by Geordie Williams Flantz is light and tender, yet biting and saucy – a perfect example of seemingly “alien” characters who are rather quite close to home. Mirror close. I also appreciate how pieces like Lost Lying on Your Back by Steven J. Dines or Birthday Licks by Kevin Brown offer a counterbalance of redemption, or at least a broken beauty, to temper the sharp brutality of their contents.

I have to point out The Pearl Diver With the Gold Chain by Paul Hogan for a couple of reasons. Maybe it’s just because I lived in Chester County, Pennsylvania for three years, or maybe it’s because I have a soft spot in my heart for the wanderers of the world (the old wheels as much as the old feet), but whatever it might be, I have this message for Mr. Hogan: Sir, it’s all I could do not to run to my jewelry box and try to tune in too. (Maybe I’m failing my inner child by not having done so already? Note to self… find a nice quiet spot… remember to relax…)

I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer some words for the visual pleasures in GUD 5. If you’re the type who likes to start with the pictures in a mag, then flip to page 84 and whet your appetite with a helping of Ada Lovelace: The Origin! by Sydney Padua. Two words: EVIL and EXCELLENT! So what’s the fate of Ada Lovelace, “the only legitimate child of mad, bad, and dangerous to know poet and nutcase Lord Byron”? You’ll have to get your own copy to find out.

I’m new to GUD as of Issue 5, but I find it nonetheless appropriate that their cover image should draw our thoughts toward vision and perspective, the act and emotion of searching. Everything in GUD 5 is vivid, brilliant, and inquisitive. As the reader I found myself constantly asking, “what if?” and “would it be different?” and “what would we do?” and “what have we done?” This isn’t a journal you get bored with and never finish – you’re going to want to suck the marrow out of this journal until you’re left with the satisfying skeleton.

There’s another question I asked myself while reading GUD 5 – how did the editors find so much excellent work to dish up in one place? Take a look at the About page at GUD and the answer is summarized in elegant simplicity: GUD is for the writers, the readers, the editors, the world. This isn’t lip service – the GUD business model and editorial approach are clearly succeeding as evidenced by the cornucopia of work which entertains while it provokes. In Issue 5 I don’t find myself yawning over stale academic bread, but rather devouring literary delights with gusto, and savoring the discovery of so many talented artists.

My observation is that GUD seeks work which satisfies both editors and audience, and it attracts the zine-shy writer with cold, hard compensation. Most of us write for reasons other than money, but that doesn’t mean we writers don’t like to get paid. I want to applaud GUD for building their business to both compensate artists and demand excellence. The fruits of your labors, dear editors, are sweet indeed… like a wriggling dish of gagh, very fresh.**

* See: Change in Pronunciation – Please Comply! April 1, 2010

** See: Star Trek Library – Food – gagh


Friday Inspiration from Author Gerri George

January 15, 2010

Start your weekend with a little inspiration from author and fellow Pennwriters member Gerri George.  George’s short fiction piece “Henry Moore and the Bookstore Clerk” appears in the current issue of Wild River Review.

What I like most about this piece, beyond George’s talent for textural, present prose, are her reflections on art and its place in life.  I’m positively smitten by the main character, and I love George’s careful treatment of all people as observers, listeners, and participants in the greater conversation of art.  Take a few minutes to read, and listen.

Enjoy!


New Year, New Short Fiction Writing Contest at The Clarity of Night

January 5, 2010

Happy 2010!  I’m pleased to announce that poet, photographer, and friend-of-writers-everywhere Jason Evans is launching us all into the 2010 with the “Silhouette” Short Fiction Contest, his 12th short fiction contest hosted at The Clarity of Night blog.

Why should you participate?  Today is the fifth day of 2010, so I’ll give you…

Five Great Reasons to Participate in the “Silhouette” Short Fiction Contest:

1) Fun – Writers are supposed to have fun with their writing, and for those of us still in holiday mode, here’s a great excuse to play!  What’s more fun than a creative prompt and a time limit?

2) Community – Writers from all across the blogosphere are drawn to Evans’ contests.  This is a great opportunity to add a new writer to your professional network.

3) Challenge – Writers can’t improve unless they challenge themselves!  It’s much harder than you might think to create something amazing in under 250 words.

4) Prizes – Writers aren’t the wealthiest bunch, and there are plenty of places trying to get something for nothing from writers.  Jason Evans honors us all by rewarding the winners with cash prizes.

5) Audience – Writers might often work independently, but their work can only do so much from the file cabinet.  Here is a chance to share your work and receive realtime feedback from hundreds of writers.

The “Silhouette” Short Fiction Contest is open to everyone.  The contest opens tomorrow, Wednesday, January 6, 2010.  The deadline for submissions is 11:00 PM EST on Wednesday, January 13th.  Any genre or form is welcome provided it is inspired by the “Silhouette” photo and demonstrates a narrative movement.  Complete rules are available at The Clarity of Night blog.

Read you there!


Morrison’s Pillow – A Short Story – Part 3 of 3

October 21, 2009

And now for Part 3, the third and final audio recording of Morrison’s Pillow.

Part 3 of Morrison’s Pillow lasts about 40 minutes, and the (.mp3) recording is about 38 MB in size.

Remember that this is a Halloween story, and as such there is an appropriate allowance of gruesome and disturbing imagery.  If you (or your kids) scare easily, please use your discretion before listening to this story.

If you haven’t already, be sure to download and listen to Part 1 and Part 2 of Morrison’s Pillow.

(Notes: This story is cross-posted at the Soul Food Café “Once Upon A Midnight” Halloween blog.  If you are among the deaf readers in the audience and would like to read the story, please email Jade Leone Blackwater to request a (.pdf) copy of the text of Morrison’s Pillow.)

Thanks for listening, enjoy, and HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

*     *     *

sassafras

Morrison’s Pillow

~  Part 3  ~

CLICK HERE to Download an Audio Recording (.mp3) of PART 3 of MORRISONS PILLOW by Jade Leone Blackwater

“Morrison’s Pillow” Copyright © 2009 J. L. Blackwater


Morrison’s Pillow – A Short Story – Part 2 of 3

October 20, 2009

Here is the audio recording of Part 2 of Morrison’s Pillow.

Part 2 of Morrison’s Pillow lasts about 40 minutes, and the (.mp3) recording is about 37 MB in size.

Remember that this is a Halloween story, and as such there is an appropriate allowance of gruesome and disturbing imagery.  If you (or your kids) scare easily, please use your discretion before listening to this story.

If you haven’t already, be sure to download and listen to Part 1 of Morrison’s Pillow.

(Notes: This story is cross-posted at the Soul Food Café “Once Upon A Midnight” Halloween blog.  If you are among the deaf readers in the audience and would like to read the story, please email Jade Leone Blackwater to request a (.pdf) copy of the text of Morrison’s Pillow.)

Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

*     *     *

stairs

Morrison’s Pillow

~  Part 2  ~

CLICK HERE to Download an Audio Recording (.mp3) of PART 2 of MORRISONS PILLOW by Jade Leone Blackwater

“Morrison’s Pillow” Copyright © 2009 J. L. Blackwater


Morrison’s Pillow – A Short Story – Part 1 of 3

October 19, 2009

Greetings!  I’ve spent the past two weeks writing the following story for Halloween.  When I first outlined this idea I was sure that the story would only be about five pages tops.  Since I ended up just shy of 50 pages, I’ll be sharing Morrison’s Pillow with you in three parts, read aloud by yours truly, Jade Leone Blackwater.

This story is rated “OK” for all ages with a note to the strange, spooky, and possibly disturbing imagery and situations described therein.  I recorded this story using Audacity.  The recording of Part 1 lasts about 35 minutes, and the (.mp3) file is about 32 MB in size (so it probably won’t stream well unless you’re on some awesome high speed internet connection).

Special thanks to Cle for sparking my inspiration after commenting on Anita Marie Moscoso’s story “Bentley the Bone Picker.”  So sorry Cle… but once you said it, I just couldn’t leave the pillow alone.

Enjoy,
Jade

(Notes: This story is cross-posted at the Soul Food Café “Once Upon A Midnight” Halloween blog.  If you are among the deaf readers in the audience and would like to read the story, please email Jade Leone Blackwater to request a (.pdf) copy of the text of Morrison’s Pillow.)

Thanks for listening, and enjoy!

*     *     *

pumpkin

Morrison’s Pillow

~  Part 1  ~

CLICK HERE to Download an Audio Recording (.mp3) of PART 1 of MORRISONS PILLOW by Jade Leone Blackwater


Halloween Fun for Everyone

October 1, 2009

Glorious Pumpkins, Copyright © 2009 Jade Leone Blackwater

Joyous October Greetings, one and all!

Looking for some great Halloween stories?  Join me (Jade), Anita Marie Moscoso, and the writers of the Soul Food Café for a month-long celebration of the strange, spooky, and sordid at Once Upon a Midnight.

We’re sharing stories, artwork, poetry, video, and every other creation we can scrape together from mis-matched parts and charge with a few volts of inspiration.  And if you’re looking for inspiration, this is the place to be: we’ll be sharing Halloween-y writing prompts to help light a creative fire under your ghosty ass!

Join us… if you dare…