Granta: Conflict Issue 160 is a collection of essays, fiction, memoir, photography, and poetry focusing on the themes of war and conflict. It mainly resides and contemplates the war in Ukraine and how that affects the people and places there. The stories and essays are about fasting, divorce, mental illness, assault, and moments of turmoil. The harrowing accounts of Ukrainian citizens in ‘Letters from Ukraine’ by Lindsey Hilsum displays the humanity and terror that is currently occurring. I was also drawn in by the narrative Suzanne Scanlon brings in ‘The Moving Target of Being’ which is urgent and frank. It contemplates the struggles of having a mental illness and checking into a psychiatric hospital. The issue looks at the victims of what war and conflict can create, and how each person deals with it differently.
Final Rating: 3/5
The Kenyon Review Sept/Oct 2022 is a collection of poems, short stories, and essays, some of which by young writers. The poetry in this issue is strong and I enjoyed ‘Diptych on Getting from Point A to Point B’ by Myra Kamal, ‘Blue Peony’ by Peter LaBerge, ‘Pandemic Dog’ by Alison Powell, ‘Splinter’ by Marney Rathbun, and ‘This Is Just To Say’ by Laura Cresté. Though, I was particularly drawn to the short story ‘Porn Star’ by Sena Moon which focuses on a girl who sees her neighbor masturbate and tells the rest of her class. The dynamic between the two characters was interesting to watch unfold. Overall, its poetry stood out as something to return to.
Final Rating: 4/5
Musui’s Story by Katsu Kokichi is an autobiography of a samurai during the 1800’s, which follows a man in his adventures, poverty, and old age. It’s an interesting piece of Japanese history, which focuses on the lesser-known aspects of a samurai’s life. For Katsu Kokichi, his account of his life seems to be boastful, and at times exaggerated when he talks about his fights with other warriors, or how he escaped from his incurred debts. Though, what is interesting is that he is consumed with discussing his money problems while trying to explain his misdeeds. It was interesting to see how relationships, ceremonies, and the societal structure all affected each other at that time. It's an account of a seemingly lower rung samurai, and because of this, its language is sometimes brash, but straightforward.
Final Rating: 3.5/5
The Paris Review Issue 240 is a collection of poetry, prose, and interviews with many of the short stories focusing on queer life. I particularly enjoyed the story ‘Descent’ by Harriet Clark which is about a boy whose mother is in a prison on a mountain for being a getaway driver. I liked the way the son’s relationship between his mother and grandmother begins to fray. I also enjoyed the story ‘Ira & The Whale’ by Rachel B. Glaser, which is about a gay man who is slowly dying in the stomach of a whale. It uses the initial premise of the Noah and The Whale narrative but spins it in a modern and enjoyable way. And finally, I found the heartbreaking nonfiction piece ‘About Ed’ by Robert Glück to have immense depth. Though, the rest of the issue didn’t feel as strong as those three narratives.
Final Rating: 3.5/5
Maxwell Suzuki is a writer, poet, and photographer based in Los Angeles.