Jump to content, Jump to navigation.

Amber Paulen

Glimmer Train issue no. 77

Glimmer Train #77

16 February 2011


Last evening I finished reading my very first issue of Glimmer Train, the well-respected literary quarterly. Physically it is a sturdy thing, much nearer to book than magazine. It was a pleasure to pick up and read randomly whenever I had the time; and it is a pleasure to flip through remembering. Writerly it is packed with talent and can be used as a decent barometer to learn what is happening in the prolific world of short stories.

Last evening I finished with Josh Weil’s short story, Malvern Hill. Maybe it was that rather bland title that made me put it off until the end, though as soon as I got into it I realized I had inadvertently saved the best for last. Malvern Hill is a story of father and son, childhood, loss, adulthood. The inclusion of that childhood scene at the beginning led me to believe that the whole thing would be written from a kid’s point of view (something I’m not very fond of), so surprised me when I was assured the majority of the story would be from older eyes. But it was also the inclusion of that childhood scene that made the story expand beyond the borders of the story’s physical length.

Malvern Hill throbbed with loss; it felt personal, or Josh Weil can tap the reservoir of our deeply personal feelings as well as he can convey them. His characters are embodied with a living humanity that lifts them off the page and they evoked in me a sad sympathy.

We let ourselves grow close precisely because we cannot be lovers, and we know that, in the end, a friend, no matter how close, can never have the grip on our hearts that a lover must. And because, in the end, they will leave, or we will leave them—whether lovers or friends or whatever lies between—there is comfort in that knowledge. — Malvern Hill, Josh Weil

Luckily, Josh Weil has written a collection of novellas titled The New Valley, and if I can get them I will read them.

Included in these pages are a number of other very fine writers. Another story I enjoyed was This Form of Grieving by Jon Chopan, another story about a father and son and loss. The father is a photographer and his sons use his photos to bring them closer to understanding him and the outward loneliness of his life.

Then there was Carrie Brown’s Bomb, the longest piece in the collection. Set in Valencia, Spain during the steamy summer, the story emits the humid tension which permeates the piece. The main character is a young girl on holiday with five adults: two couples and an extra woman. The younger perspective leaves much unsaid and is only enhanced by the violence of an ETA bombing outside Valencia’s cathedral. Bomb was great for its slow subtleties and its careful development.

Also included are two interviews, one with Bret Anthony Johnston whose Soldiers of Fortune also appears, and the other with Travis Holland. The very insightful questions and answers, mostly about the craft of writing, complete the balance to this veritable showcase of contemporary writers—there are even photos of the writers while young and more words and more photos on the back pages.

Though I knew none of the writers before, I enjoyed them all. There was not one piece that left me feeling disappointed. Now I know why Glimmer Train upholds such a reputation. I’m certainly addicted.



Submit a Comment


·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·   ·