With the exception of incoming submissions here, the majority of my reading is focused on literary journals and the varied styles and voices found there. For years, I haven't really preferred the longer stuff—novels and what-not. But I took a bit of a dive into my archives this August to reread a number of full-length works I appreciated in the past, and was happy I did. Do you ever reread books or shorter length pieces you've enjoyed? Here is a sampling of where I went this summer -

"Colony Girl" - by Thomas Rafiel (Picador, 1999). The story of Eve, a teenage girl in a religious colony, written in first person, yet by a male author. I found the voice very convincing, and this personality very likable and interesting. "I looked behind and saw my shadow, stretching ten miles down the road," Eve tells us. "The farther I walked, the farther it went in the other direction."

"Last Things" - by Jenny Offill (Dell, 1999). Younger than Eve, Grace is eight years old, has that enviable child's imagination, and is exposed to quite a stirring of views and thoughts and systems of others. "I had an idea that someday I'd be driving down a road somewhere and someone on the radio would start talking to me," Grace says. Her friend Alec has a Room of Everything Good. Her mother uses a secret key to encrypt her writing. Her neighbor, Edgar, is sixteen and a boy genius, working downtown in a laboratory studying poisonous molds.

"Living Dead Girl" - Tod Goldberg (Soho, 2002). Yet another first person story, this one narrated by a man, Paul, who is looking for the wife he has separated from. He brings his girlfriend with him to a cottage he had shared with his wife up north, and the novel brings the reader into a mystery of sorts—a whodunit. Paul says, "I am haunted by every person I have ever loved."

I hope these words inspire you to crack open work you loved in the past as well. Below, we include our usual Lit Pick of the Quarter, which we hope you'll equally appreciate. Happy fall! - JL


Our Lit Pick of the Quarter may teach you a new word, or rather, a second meaning of a word you already know: agape. In the 25th Anniversary Issue of Boulevard, Nos. 74 & 75, 2010, comes a story by Maya Sloan titled as such. A Christian Rock groupie follows her favorite band and its lead singer, and introduces us to a higher form of love. Here is an excerpt -

The stage lights hit his upturned face, and for a moment the spotlight made him look like he had a halo... and my whole body pulsed with Christ and Bradley, and I knew, with certainly, that it was agape. Beyond any worldly love, any material love, any human love, was Christ's love for me—his agape—and I finally felt it. For the first time in my life, it wasn't just a slogan printed on a bumper sticker on the back of an SUV, it wasn't a word across a coffee mug. It was something real, something I could reach out and touch, something I could slide my hands down, velvety and immaculate. It was something I could ride like a wave.


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