I've had an electronic subscription to Dialogue a few times, but reading pdfs on my laptop sucks. So I almost never read anything. I would love to subscribe to the paper, but it ain't cheap and my subscriptions budget is, shall we say, already rather full. And so most of the Dialogue I've read over the last ten years has been the gratis copies received when they've published my writing. I'm a bit ashamed to admit this.
But every time a new issue comes out, I always look over the table of contents and sigh and moan over the fiction I want to read and the poems I want to read and probably another thing or three I wish to read. But I never actually buy the issue.
And, weirdly, although it was the poetry and fiction that first caught my eye, it was a pair of book reviews that got me to plunk down five bucks for the Kindle edition. Specifically, reviews of The Garden of Enid (or, rather, the new collected volumes) by two of my favorite people, Brittany Long Olsen and Stephen L. Peck. Since I'm supposed to be an expert on such things, I had to read these. And I did. And while I'm tempted to review the reviews, I'm not sure that sort of metarecursion is really what America needs right now.
Instead, here are some brief looks at some of the issue's artsy writin.
Lon Young, "That’s Where the Light Enters" — I learned a lot about leprosy from this essay. And about living abroad, far from certain internet and casual cultural assumptions. The alchemy that turns these things into spiritual metaphors is rather lovely and moving.
Gail Turley Houston, "Dreaming After Trump" — It's crazy to me how close the September Six brouhaha is to my own BYU experience and how little I was aware of its aftermath at the time. Laying that chaos under the chaos of Trump's election certainly makes for something to talk about.
C. Dylan Bassett, "True Ideas" — Couple fun bits of wordplay.
R. A. Christmas, "Not the Truman Show" — Always glad to see Christmas still publishing. I'm hot and cold on his work, but I like how this one is filtered through its title. Completely different work without that title.
Joanna Ellsworth, "Averted Vision" — This poem's placement next to Christmas's makes for a fun juxtaposition. They both are interested in the cosmic and in overlaying science with art.
Ronald Wilcox, "The Grammar of Quench" — This poem has a thrusting rhythm that adds a vital sense to its destructive suggestions.
Darlene Young, "Echo of Boy" — This story of a deacon becoming an adult during his freezing fast-offering route is the only thing in this issue I quoted on Twitter. It also ends with the very nice "contrail of boy."
Erika Munson, "What Happened Sunday Morning" — I suspect this tiny piece started life intended for Everyday Mormon Writer's Lit Blitz. There is so much excellent Mormon flash fiction these days. Anyway, this is short and ambiguous. Don't expect utter clarity on just what epiphany the p-o-v was supposed to've experienced.
Heidi Naylor, "The Home Teacher — This does a nice job weaving together the story of a missionary's success with a ruined human being and his later, less successful, experiences with another. For me, it had a lot to say about the heights missionary work provides for missionaries and the sometimes ambiguous effects memories of that single-minded devotion can have later in life.