The Conium Review welcomes two new editors

We’re pleased to welcome two new staff members to The Conium Review: Hillary Leftwich and Adam Padgett.

Hillary Leftwich lives in Denver, CO.  She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Regis University, and she’s co-founder of the “Denver Shitty Writers” group.  She was recently interviewed by The Missouri Review for their “Working Writer Series.”  You can follow her on Twitter or read her WordPress blog.

Adam Padgett was a contributor to The Conium Review‘s Spring 2013 issue. His fiction has also appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Santa Clara Review, Cold Mountain Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is a mentor for PEN America’s Prison Writing Program, and he teaches writing at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.  You can follow Adam on Twitter.

Contributor Update: Brian Baumgart published in Ruminate Magazine

Brian Baumgart (contributor to our Spring 2013 issue) was published in Issue #27 of Ruminate Magazine.

Brain is coordinator of creative writing and English faculty at North Hennepin Community College, and he holds an MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His writing has also appeared or is forthcoming in Tipton Poetry Journal, Blue Earth Review, and elsewhere. You can hear a reading of his poem “Rules for Loving Right” at Sweet.

Check out the lit mag “From Sac”

Check out From Sac, a collective of Sacramento Valley writers. The Executive Editor is Jon Alston (he was also a contributor to our Spring 2013 issue). The journal is open to submissions year-round. You can find out more details here: http://www.fromsac.com/

And check out Jon Alston’s blog here: http://jaawriter.blogspot.com/

Marc Schuster to read at The Daily Grind in Jenkintown, PA

The GrieversMarc Schuster, John Mosemann, and Erik Dutko share their work at the MCPL event “Rhythm and Verse: A Literary and Music Salon.”

This MCPL featured event includes performances by a featured writer and musician, followed by a round-table open mike session designed to promote audience sharing.

Marc Schuster is the author of several books, including The Grievers (The Permanent Press, 2012). His work has appeared in a variety of journals, including Weird Tales and Reader’s Digest. He was the Guest Editor of our Spring 2013 issue.

You can follow Marc’s blog here, and you can find out more about the reading on the MCPL website.

This year’s Pushcart nominees

Pushcart Prize 2014The Pushcart nomination process ended over the weekend, and we’ve mailed our contenders out. The Conium Review‘s nominees for 2014 are:

  • “A Kidnapping and a Church Van,” by Adam Padgett (fiction, Spring 2013)
  • “Of Course I Will Return It,” by Shellie Zacharia (fiction, Spring 2013)
  • “Orgasm,” by Robert Dart (fiction, Spring 2013)
  • “Sonora,” by Natalie Peeterse (poetry, Fall 2013)

William Cass wins The Examined Life Journal’s contest

One of William Cass’s stories, entitled “Empathy,” was selected as the fiction winner in The Examined Life Journal‘s recent writing contest.
William Cass  was a contributor to The Conium Review‘s Spring 2013 issue.  Congratulations on the winning story, William!

Contributor Update: Check out Jonathan Alston’s blog

Jonathan Alston was a contributor to our Spring 2013 issue, and you can stay informed about his upcoming projects on his blog.  He posts a few times each month, often discussing the writing life and process: http://jaawriter.blogspot.com/

Justin Campbell receives the 2013 Hurston/Wright Award

The Conium Review contributor Justin Campbell recently received the 2013 Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award for African American College Writers for his novella excerpt, Sitting on the Knees of Gods.  The award was established by novelist Marita Golden to honor excellence in fiction writing by students of African descent.

More information on the award is available here: http://www.hurstonwright.org/#!college-awards/cs3d

Campell’s story, “Super Tuscan,” appears in our Spring 2013 issue.

Book Review: Stray Decorum

Stray Decorum
Written by George Singleton
Dzanc Books, 2012
ISBN 9781938103544

 
Stray DecorumGeorge Singleton releases his fifth story collection with characters who are odd sorts of people, strays in their own lives, while strangely likeable. Upon reading anything by George Singleton, the reader instantly gets a sense of his distinct voice, which is an amalgamation the small town South (as in Flannery O’Connor) and cutting, satirical humor. A first read through this collection makes it clear that Singleton is a dog lover, but most of these stories are more about people who love their animals and how they discover meaning in their lives through their animals. You will not find any Old Yeller plot constructions or any moments where the demise of man’s best friend serves as the climatic device. These stories are smarter than that.

The eleven shorts in Stray Decorum are often simple and commonplace in terms of setting and conflict. However, there is a richness in the characters that Singleton depicts here that is extremely rewarding for readers. The first story, “Vaccination,” begins at the veterinarian’s office while the protagonist, Edward, takes his dog in for his vaccinations. With the most excellent first line in a short story I have read in a while, the story begins, “My dog Tapeworm Johnson needed legitimate veterinary attention.” In the first several pages, the reader is treated with a trip through the interesting and specific ethos of Edward: that of one who respects veterinarians more than human doctors; one who is extremely suspicious of microchips implanted in pets; one who names their dog Tapeworm Johnson.

 
In “A Man with My Number,” a door-to-door salesman tries to sell the protagonist (whose thoughts often drift toward his collection of machetes and bolt cutters) numbers for his house after the protagonist’s street address numbers have coincidentally gone missing. The story seems to be about boundaries and breaking those boundaries. From “A Man with My Number”:

“But my dogs never feel the need to roam. People who know me—people who don’t show up unannounced with a stray wondering if it’s one of mine—know that my dogs somehow understand boundaries. They show up at my house for a reason, then settle in. Dogs seem to sense things we cannot fathom. They know fear, sure, that’s all been documented. But they also know what kinds of people won’t feed or pet them if they (the dogs) run out into the road or chase birds on a whim. Dogs know good music when they hear it, too.”

In “Durkheim Looking Down,” the protagonist thinks his wife’s friends are odd while he secretly uses an electric dog collar to remedy his vocal outbursts during nightmares. A pompous intellectual (who the couples are traveling together to see) triumphantly claims, “Modern dance is to ballet as slam poetry is to literature.” The nuance in character depicted here elevates these stories beyond anecdotes or cheap laughs.

As far as fiction (especially short fiction) goes, I don’t generally seek out comedy. I prefer fiction that is visceral and gritty. So, I’m typically sifting through the steady stream of fiction flowing out of the South. That’s where you’ll consistently find your viscera and grit—not that satire can’t be cathartic and revealing of universal truths that we hope for in good fiction (John Swartzwelder’s short novels are great if you’re a fan of a The Simpsons). I wouldn’t categorize Stray Decorum as specifically comedy or satire, but Singleton’s humor permeates these stories. The humor and delicate social observations serve as the laces that hold these stories together, that elucidates who these characters are and where they fit in the scheme of things. Which, by the way, is exactly what this collection is about: people who are lost, strays, searching for where they belong. And like the animals we are so attached to, these characters want only to belong to someone or something or someplace.

 
Review by Adam Padgett
© 2013, All Rights Reserved
Adam Padgett’s short fiction has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Appalachian HeritageSanta Clara Review, SmokeLong QuarterlyThe Conium Review, and elsewhere. He teaches writing at The University of North Carolina at Charlotte.