-“Killing Curses, a Caught-Heart Quest” by Krista Hoeppner Leahy
-“Vanish Girl” by Andrea M. Pawley
-“Neighbors” by Kamila Z. Miller
Well, I’ll say one thing for ankle surgery; it makes it easy to get reading done, what with all the lying around, keeping my foot elevated. After my recent car wreck – happy to say the broken ankle is the worst of my injuries – I’ve had time to peruse through the stack of unread magazines which usually leers from the corner of my living room. Silver lining, right? Thus, this week I’ll be reviewing the latest Lady Churchill’sRosebud Wristlet, Issue 28.
I subscribed to Lady Churchill’s about a year ago, so the wait for this issue, released in January, was long; called “an occasional zine,” Lady Churchill’s is a magazine for those of us who like surprises. My only other experience with the magazine was the anthology, Best of Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, which I read and greatly enjoyed and which led to my subscribing to the magazine. This issue made me sure that subscribing was the right choice.
Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet is a small zine with a big title; it’s very unassuming in appearance, though Junyi Wu’s cover art for Issue 28 is magnificent: a black and white drawing of three wolves surrounding a patch of tiny houses. Issue 28 contains eight pieces of fiction, one piece of nonfiction, and one poem.
The first piece of fiction, Michael Penkas’ “Coffee with Count Presto” begins with the main character receiving an invitation to a one man show in a coffee shop. Magician intrigue and mystery ensues, as Count Presto has been giving away magician secrets. A short and clever piece with a resonant ending.
Krista Hoeppner Leahy’s “Killing Curses, a Caught-Heart Quest” is one of the highlights of the issue. An imaginative story about a “curse-killer” named Petech in watershed world. The ability to kill curses is inherited, and the story concerns Petech’s relationships with an ex-Midas (a man whose curse, the curse of turning everything he touched to gold, had been broken by Petech’s mother before her death), a tree that becomes Petech’s wife, and Petech’s daughter, who may or may not become a curse-killer herself. Strange and beautiful, the world in which “Killing Curses” takes place is incredible and vivid.
The dystopia in Kevin Waltman’s “Notes From a Pleasant Land Where Broken Hearts Are Like Broken Hands” feels slightly familiar but also relevant to the world of today; society is divided into two castes. Pleasants live suburban lives and work, supervised by Mangers, while the Cacklers remain an exotic nuisance, flinging excrement at the Pleasant work sites and wreaking havoc. The main character, Bolder, is forced to confront the Cackler’s presence when both the girl he is interested in, Palmetto, and his father begin disobeying the Mangers.
In Erica Hilderbrand’s “Akashiyaki (Octopus Dumplings, serves two),” a quirky, absurd story, Kento follows an octopus that has escaped from his brother’s restaurant into an arcade and across a pier. Heart-warming, though almost too much so.
Brian Baldi’s “Springtime for the Roofer” is an interesting exercise in point-of-view in which a roofer watches from the rooftop as a group of robots plays tag. Funny and poignant, if as sauntering as the game of tag the robots play.
Andrea M. Pawley’s “Vanish Girl” is another of my favorites from the issue. Another dystopia in which the classes are literally divided, and the loner of the title, Cora, a mesco addict, had discovered an invisible home and a strange device called a Meta-mat. Unfortunately, another girl has declared herself Cora’s roommate, and she proves to be a worse roommate than most.
Kamila Z. Miller’s “Neighbors” is another highlight. The story takes place around a holiday; on this holiday, it is customary for a young woman to place an egg in the basket of the man who she is interested in. The main character of “Neighbors” is interested in two men: a robust giant and a quiet, thin man. Her indecision causes her inner turmoil throughout the story, but what really seems to be bothering her is the stigma she has been saddled with after her father was arrested. Now an outcast from society, she wonders if either of the two men would even take her if she chose them.
Helen Marshall’s “The Book of Judgment” is about an angel who comes to visit Jane Austen. Beautifully written and intriguing, but not quite my cup of tea, as I have yet to jump on the Jane Austen train.
The nonfiction piece in the issue is Nicole Kimberling’s “Feeding Strays,” a short, humorous piece on how to feed teenagers. And the poem, John McKernan’s “Prayer to Oatmeal” is a short, quirky poem written to a bowl of oatmeal, asking the oatmeal to guard the narrator throughout the day. Neither of these are as strong as the fiction, but they do provide a nice change of pace.