The Barcelona Review. International Review of Contemporary Fiction

Local news:
I’m going very local on this one.   TBR began in 1997, and we’ve had a little mascot all that time, anchoring our laps to the computer chair, when she felt like it, and tyrannically ruling the household.  She was first spotted in 1991 while my partner and I were seated in an outdoor café next to a construction pile, the kind of mess that appeared about every other block during that time of the city’s great make-over before the Olympics.  We saw a little movement under a mound of white concrete powder and wondered what kind of ‘thing’ it could be.  Something living? Maybe a mouse?  Closer inspection showed it to be what we thought was probably a new-born kitten, covered in white grit, a runt abandoned by the mother or perhaps the mother had been killed during the construction.  What a strange sight it was!  We decided to take the wee thing home, give it a bath and let it die in dignity. 

That night we went to bed, leaving the nearly lifeless wisp of black fur in a shoe box.  Early the next morning we were awoken by what sounded like the extraordinarily loud squawk of a seagull.  The little thing had lived and was ready to take on this strange new world.  She was a ferociously loud-mouthed, feisty cat from the beginning, demanding and full of opinions.  We named her Thing. 

It’s a common perception that cat owners are typically single women, often older single women—and batty, if they own too many—or male wimps.  As FB can verify to a nauseating degree, each thinks their own little bundle of fluff is the most adorable, special, intuitively perceptive, loving pet in the world. 

Thing was the most adorable, special, intuitively perceptive, loving pet in the world.  Not to say she couldn’t be a trial—if that litter box wasn’t in top shape, she let us know with little piles in unwanted places, and her sassy-ass demanded feeding in the morning before my feet hit the floor.  Hard to believe she was born when George Bush Sr. was president!  (Man, was she glad when Clinton got in; and last Nov. she sat up with me all night awaiting election results, though she knew what the outcome would be, the little psychic—it was a two-day purr-fest when Barry slid in.)  During the US invasion of Iraq, Thing stood with me on the balcony during the on-going evening cacerolazo, adding her signature howl of a meow.   Quite the little progressive!

This cat was born 6 years before TBR launched its first issue—and we’ve been around a long while.   She was born before many of our readers.  She was born before the clerk at the pet food store.  And her vet, who couldn’t believe her age because of her sleek figure and energy, and shiny fur and eyes, only has two years on her. 

She was strong till the end; then a tumor kicked in and sent her into a mope for a few weeks.  Even then, she continued her daily routines and kept herself beautifully clean.  But finally she refused to eat or drink.  Thing, I beseeched, with tears streaming, not even your favorite food?!   She gave me a look—and you do not live with a cat for 21 years in a tiny apartment and not know the look. Thing was saying, I’m trying to tell you something here, fool (oh, she could be ever so direct!); don’t you have something to sort out?  So, I sorted it out.

We lost our Thing two days ago.  She did not fight the vet, who came to the apartment and gently sent her off while I stroked her and whispered good-byes. I have heard phantom meows twice since then.  I automatically look for her in all her favorite places and think I see her just dashing around the corner or curled up in a chair. 

And so our little treasure, who gained a hold on life against all odds, our little mascot, who graced the cover of TBR in issue 45, graces it for the last time.  Thing, the wonder cat!  How we miss you, Thing!

thing resting

Winter 2012/2013
Issue 77

Greetings from Barcelona, the land of slavish austerity cuts and on-going protests. Still, life continues with a semblance of normalcy—local shoppers fill the stores along with tourists, and the bars and outdoor terrace cafés are comfortably full.  Mind you, the line at the neighborhood soup kitchen is getting longer, but if you’re just passing through and not looking too close, it’s still the dazzling city you want to see.  TBR is ticking along, too, with a delay in getting out this new issue (apologies), but here we have it, with a nicely hot and diverse selection of the sort readers come to us for.   

First up, we are pleased to present Miranda of Mazatlán, a self-contained piece from James Carlos Blake’s forthcoming novel, The Rules of Wolfe. For any young newcomers who might not be familiar with his work, Blake has been called “one of the greatest chroniclers of the mythical American outlaw life” as well as “one of the most original writers in America today and … certainly one of the bravest.”  Read one novel and you will rush out to buy another.   This short story gives a nice taste.

Des Dillon from Scotland is another favorite.  Author of many novels (including Me and Ma Gal and My Epileptic Lurcher), short stories, plays, TV and film scripts, he never fails to deliver a punch.  In Ten Pound Note, we follow a Scottish bloke on his way to visit his son in an English jail. 

Hey, how about a Mexican outlaw who comes to the US on a sniper-exchange program? Or a gun that fires embarrassing mom tattoos?  The inimitable Steve Aylett is in top form in his latest novel, Novahead, the last of the Beerlight novels, which means the last we’ll see of Taffy Atom, gumshoe extraordinaire from some sort of alternative universe where the atmosphere appears to be infused with a psychedelic compound.  Read Ring the Bells, I’m Going Out, and feel the synapses of your brain pop and sizzle.

In 2010 Lidia Yuknavitch wrote a memoir entitled The Chronology of Water, in which she writes in the Acknowledgments:  “If you have ever fucked up in your life, or if the great river of sadness that runs through us all has ever touched you, then this book is for you.”  I was hooked from that line until the last.  This year saw the publication of her first novel, Dora: A Headcase.  Dora is 17.  And she is a headcase.  But a smart young cookie of a headcase, who turns the tables on some offending adults.  In this excerpt, you get a good introduction to the little darling.

In picks from back issues we have two nicely dark stories to go with the holiday season:  Nicholas Royle’s Trussed , and Mark Anthony Jarman’s Cougar  

Our quiz this issue is on Ian McEwan, so if you like your literature classically English and know the canon, you’re on the way to possibly winning a 30-euro gift certificate from Amazon.  The winner of last issue’s quiz on Ray Bradbury is Mark Gallacher.

Book reviews on the above-mentioned Novahead by Steve Aylett, and Dora: A Headcase by Lidia Yuknavitch.

To be notified when new issues are available, just ‘LIKE’ The Barcelona Review on Facebook (for the Spanish, LIKE Barcelona Review without the THE); or email us to subscribe (gratis, of course), though often our bulk email is blocked from servers so we cannot guarantee a notification.

Until then, we hope you enjoy our new line-up. 

All the best from Barcelona,

Jill Adams

THING - AKA Fungus

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