The Prague Literary Review, volume 3, issue 1

I picked up the latest issue of the Prague Literary Review at the Globe very recently. I haven’t read it in its entirety yet, but here’s my first impression: the new PLR is an improvement over the last version, but still fails to satisfy my tastes.

The magazine kicks off with a story by Vaclav Kahuda (translated from the Czech by Jed Slast) called “Twine.” The piece has a great opening line:

Don’t anyone copy this or you’ll find yourself in a mess of shit.

However, a potentially interesting narrative gets smothered in language that is trying far too hard to be imaginative, and fails. The story literally ends with nothing in a way that seems like the author either ran out of steam or (more likely) got bored with what he was writing.

Joshua Cohen’s review of Louis Armand’s Malice in Underland is demanding – it certainly helps if you have read some of Armand’s work to get a grip on the review of his latest collection of poetry. One American expat poetess told me very bluntly, “I can’t understand what the hell Joshua’s talking about in that review.” While I can see where she’s coming from, Armand’s poetry requires such an attentive review.

The poetry by Matthew Wascovich and Todd Colby leaves me lukewarm. Interesting work, but nothing I would go out of my way to buy. It reads like the kind of poetry that should remain on the page, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong on that.

And then along comes AD by Dennis Cooper. The piece (neither story nor poem) consists of a lengthy and extremely ballsy series of sick predatory conversations. I don’t want to ruin the impact of a first reading, so I’ll sum it up as follows: it’s very dark, very disturbing, somewhat amusing, and more than worth the PLR cover price of CZK 50. And it should definitely be used to make an audio track.

Admittedly that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. While I can understand the PLR’s editorial vision, I really wish that somebody here in Prague would start up a literary magazine that is less demanding of its readers and doesn’t take itself so seriously. For an online example of what I mean, Diagram is worth a look.

My favourite local expat lit zine, the now defunct Jejune: America Eats its Young, is a good investment if you can get your hands on a copy (you might be able to do so here in Prague at the Globe). Here’s a slightly dated, but still interesting, look at a decade of English publications in Prague – Jejune is located about halfway down the page.

Feb 11, 17:44 (Filed under: Culture )

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