A Journal Flies High With Humor, Travel, and Flash Fiction
Lowestoft Chronicle’s latest issue, #10, is a good read. This magazine, based entirely online since 2009, claims to accept humor-based pieces, mostly fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and flash fiction, with emphasis on travel. While there are a couple of pieces that fit that description, such as "Something Like Culture Shock" by Dennis Vanvick and "Weighing Heavy" by Dietrich Kalteis, many short stories and poems here offer deeper meanings and address heavier topics. This shouldn’t be considered a hindrance; it allows more depth and emotional in the issue overall.
There aren’t a lot of fiction pieces, but the two that are presented are well-written and engaging. The stand-out piece in this section is "Something Like Culture Shock" by Vanvick. There is humor, most of it slightly sarcastic, but accompanied by good character development and a hidden plot within the simple piece. The protagonist, Andy, starts off being love-drunk, literally, and asking his girlfriend of three months, Catalina, to marry him, but by the end he states “I’m free,” leaving the readers to believe that he has decided to get out of the engagement. Subtle clues are made throughout the piece, but it does take reading through it again to see how the ending came to be and what may come next if this compelling story continued.
There was only one creative non-fiction piece, but it was extremely well-written. "Political Awakening, 1970" by Denise Thompson-Slaughter, was about political protests that went on at universities in the United States during the Vietnam War. This piece strays from humor, instead going into issues of corruption in the government and heightened emotional stress. Honestly, it was refreshing to read a piece with this much depth and loss of innocence. It gives variety to the issue as a whole, displaying Thompson-Slaughter's deft writing style along with a great retelling of a powerful memory.
Much of the poetry here has a musical theme, such as "J.S. Bach Said:" by Joan L. Cannon, as well as subtle themes of traveling. While most of the poems are written beautifully, the piece that stands out is "Practice" by Mark J. Mitchell. Here, each line begins with a capitalized letter. While the lines are a continuation of one another, having the first letter of the lines in capitals allow the reader to read the line on its own. For instance, the last three lines in the second stanza are written as: “He sees the music: quarter notes trapped in/Five strict lines. Touch, hearing, sight, each sense/Alert, tendons taut, to let music be.”
The two flash fiction pieces featured here are beautiful, conveying powerful emotion in a short span of time. The piece that stands out, though, is "Pájaro Diablo" by Michael C. Keith. This piece is about a little boy, Mateo, who doesn’t want his godfather to die, so he kills the devil messenger bird. What happens, though, is a chain of events that have Mateo killing off messenger birds to protect his family from being claimed by death. By the end, the reader is riveted to see what will happen next.
The journal also features an interview with Randal S. Brandt, a writer and librarian who is working on a biography of David Dodge, a travel writer and author of To Catch a Thief and The Poor Man’s Guide to Europe. While there isn’t much about Brandt himself, the interview reveals a lot about his personality and passion in how he talks about Dodge. The conversations isn't long, but has enough information and material to make for an entertaining read.
Overall, this issue is full of great talent and exceptionally-written pieces. Many of the contributors have been published in a variety of other journals, some with their own novels and books in circulation. The journal publishes online quarterly, allowing for various opportunities to submit pieces, and they also print anthologies annually.The reading period for the next issue began on June 1st and will end on August 15th.