The Barcelona Review. International Review of Contemporary Fiction

 

Welcome to The Barcelona Review’s 11th anniversary issue.  Yes, we have been going since 1997, but in the world of the internet, that pre-google, pre-Internet Explorer, pre-Wiki, pre-blog era seems a very distant past.  I was asked not long ago what TBR’s future goals were, and I answered what I’ve always answered:  to continue to bring out the best in quality short fiction from around the world; and as long as we continue to get readers from nearly 100 countries—from India to Finland to Nigeria to the Antarctic—we’ll continue to deliver.   Towards that end, we have some cracking good fiction this issue to kick start year eleven.

Donald Ray Pollock writes riveting stories set in his hometown of Knockemstiff, Ohio, which includes a cast of earthy characters without a pot to piss in—some raw and ugly to the bone, and others just raw, but all full of grit and attitude to burn.  In Pills, two local boys think they see a way out of the muck and go for it.  It’s poignant, it’s very funny, and for everyone who’s ever swallowed a black beauty, a memorable flash to its power and glory.

I grew up next door to Ohio, in southern Indiana, but my adopted state is Oregon.  Benjamin Percy is a native and beautifully captures the landscape of the Pacific Northwest while giving us characters, often in personal conflict, with close links to the land.  In Somebody Is Going to Have to Pay for This, two estranged men, one recently returned from the Iraq War, are thrown together in their small town, and the interaction proves revealing.

TBR has long had a love affair with Scottish writers—too numerous to mention. One of our favorites is Des Dillon who captures the vernacular of his characters so wonderfully, sometimes making you laugh out loud (see Bunch of Cunts,  issue 59) and sometimes quietly touching.  In They Scream When You Kill Them, the lilting voices of a man and his wife take us through a curious little episode involving langoustines; while The High Tea of the Great Gods recounts the reunion of a now grown student and his old mentor, with the majestic cliffs off Galloway serving as background.

From Canada we’re pleased to present new writer Rose Hunter, whose Another Day at the Circus shows the curious direction a young Australian girl’s life has taken since drifting to Canada.  The good strong voice impressed us all.

And last up, in translation from the Spanish, we offer Sensini by Roberto Bolaño whom everyone seems to be talking about these days now that his books are beginning to be translated into English and other languages.  Bolaño was born in Chile, later moved to Mexico and after that to Barcelona where he died in 2003 at age 50. He was one of the first of his generation to pull away from the heavy influence of Márquez and other magic realists, and strike out in a totally new direction.  His prose is sharp, clear and clean; the voice distinctly his own.  Donald Long offers a glimpse into the man and his work in a special article:  Bolaño’s Voyage:  Last Evenings on Earth

In picks from back issues, we encourage you to look through our TBR Archives, containing 11 years worth of high quality fiction—some of the very best short fiction that’s out there anywhere.  Our two feature picks this issue: Alasdair Gray’s Big Pockets with Buttoned Flaps, and Pete Duval’s Fun with Mammals.

Our quiz this issue is on the Post-Apocalyptic and Dystopian Literature of the 21st Century, an increasing popular theme and one of my personal favorites. Know which novel has teens chatting over “feednets?”  Which involves a mysterious lake spreading over L.A.?  Have a go; the winner receives a 30-euro gift certificate from Amazon.   No winner for last issue’s quiz on Beowulf though some very close calls. 

In book reviews, we have a look at Louise Erdrich’s new novel, The Plague of Doves, a real treat if you’re a fan of her stories-within-stories narratives told by multiple voices.  Also is a look at Walter Mosley’s Fortunate Son—a departure from his Easy Rawlin’s books; and two short novels, newly translated, by Spain’s Rafael Reig, Blood on the Saddle and A Pretty Face—alternate reality whodunits with sci-fi overtones and much irreverent commentary on any number of things, including a dissection of the author’s “terminal generation”—those too young to be involved in la movida and not quite old enough to participate in the transition from Franco’s dictatorship.

Local news:  Spain has its eye hard on the upcoming US general elections.  Spain’s socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who gained power partly by promising to withdraw Spanish troops from Iraq, which he promptly did, is clearly no friend of George W. Bush. And as for the current economic slump in Europe, people here like to say “ When the U.S. sneezes, Spain gets a cold,” for the economic slide in the U.S. indeed effects Europe, and in a bigger way; that’s the global world we live in.  So for a variety of reasons, it comes as no surprise that a recent poll showed an overwhelming majority of Spaniards in support of Barack Obama.  I love to see people here excited about a U.S. presidential candidate.  It is heart-warming after seven and a half years of the current administration which has engendered so much negative feeling abroad.  Democrats Abroad is holding a party/fund raiser for Obama on July 5th at bar Tres Flores on Correo Viejo, right next door to TBR.  If you’re in the city, stop by, support a good cause, and say hello.  I’ll be there.

That’s it, dear readers. I hope you enjoy our offerings.  Our next issue is due out in August.  Click here if you’d like to be notified when new issues are online.  And drop us a line with your thoughts.

All the best from Barcelona,

Jill Adams, editor
The Barcelona Review 

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