The Rag: Winter/Spring 2013

The Rag: Winter/Spring 2013 - Seth Porter,  Dan Reilly,  Ronda Rutherford I don't read too many literary magazines. It isn't because I don't like them. I usually do. It's just that they are not readily available, although the increasing appearance of Ezines may be changing that. If more people read literary magazines instead of People and Us the world would be a better place. Editor Seth Porter sent me a copy of his Ezine, The Rag and I'm glad he did. What I like about literary magazines is that it gives the reader a chance to read the type of poetry and prose that never make it to the mainstream market. The Rag does exactly that. And of course it is a good place to find young writers who are honing their craft.

The Rag seems to be a "theme" magazine. This winter/spring 2013 issue appears to be about the ambiguity of good and evil with each writer addressing this issue in some way. I would place the basic genre of these stories as Transgressive; a genre known for exploring the darker boundaries of human existence. As with most lit mags, there is some unevenness but none of the short fiction is bad. The range goes from fairly good to totally awesome. In the awesome level are these stories:

Memento Mori by Stephanie Demas; The author take on a still taboo topic with surprising sensitivity. It is a haunting story and one of the best best in the magazine.

Not Giving to the Alumni Fund by David Blanton. This is one of those stories that haunt you way after you read it. It reads fairly straight forward but I can't stop thinking there are levels that beg to come to the surface.

Putting in the Work by Steve Russo is a bit more gritty. fitting neatly into crime noir. However, again it is deceptive as you realize this is a murder tale narrated by a guy who is really describing the event as just a another step in his career. Of all the tales in this mag, this one really tackles how we define good and evil.

The Observer Effect by Matthew Meade is also firmly in crime noir as it explores the old plot of wife and lover planning the death of her husband. It's twist is that we get the view of the wife. Is she the victim or the seducer? Or was it just meant to happen?
Again there's a nice balance between suspense and the mundane. This story isn't quite awesome but it is very good and deserves to be mentioned.

Zeke Stargazing by Rachel Kimbrough is another favorite.. It's a very strange family tale that is repulsive and riveting at the same time. I'm not sure I totally understand it but I certainly won't forget it. Also one of the best.

Olivia by Philip Zigman is an excellent story about a girl who goes in for plastic surgery. It takes the scenario to the extreme but has a casualness in its narrator that plays off the grotesque well. It's a nice one to end the magazine with.

The rest of the fiction is fair to good but sort of average. There are some poems and some very short fiction that is more descriptive that linear and they are well worth reading. Overall, I would give this issue a three and a half star rating. The Ezine is also good enough to check out the other issues and to keep it in my mind for further exploration.