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See the Elephant 2 - Love and War in the Slipstream
Edited by Melanie Lamaga
Cover Artist: Neue Welt by Michael Waitz
Review by Sam Tomaino
Metaphysical Circus  
Date: 29 April 2016

Links: See the Elephant / How to Support / Pub Info / Table of Contents /

Issue 2 of See the Elephant has stories by Michael Canfield, Rose Wednesday, Cassandra Khaw, Rebecca Schwarz, Brian Hodges, F. Brett Cox, Leslie What, Jane Lebak, Alana I Capria, Diane Glancy, M. Glyde, James Van Pelt, Kristen Falso-Capaldi, and Karen Heuler.

Here is See the Elephant #2, a new magazine dedicated to slipstream fiction and my reviews of the new stories in it. The genre content of most is pretty light or non-existent but the beautiful prose makes them all worth reading.

The new stories begin with "Summon Up the Blood" by Michael Canfield. -+- Curtis is a Viet Nam vet hanging out in Haught-Ashbury back in the day. He meets Stanley, an old friend from high school. Stanley uses some strange orange stuff on Curtis' shoes to make a new drug. It doesn't make for a good trip for anyone. Nice period piece, well executed.

"Girl in Satin Watering Rhododendron Bush" from An Unnatural History of Humans in Love by Rose Wednesday -+- In 1914, Bert Cabell comes from a rich family and paints portraits of women in the forties even though his face-blindness means he doesn't distinguish their features. He meets Mary Strange on a trolley car and can see her features. She is from France and her father (if he is her father) is of African descent. He paints a picture of her with the title of the story and it is a sensation. Can things somehow work out for them. A beautifully-written bittersweet tale.

"The Bones of the Matter" by Cassandra Khaw -+- Mei Fong's mother is a witch, beyond even the powers of what all mothers know. She tells her mother that she thinks her lover, Nadia, is cheating on her with a man. Her mother cooks up the perfect meal (which sounds delicious)! Perfect little story!

"Kaia" by Brian Hodges -+- Timothy's lover, Matt, suddenly killed himself and Matt has gone to Sweden to forget. There, near a cathedral in Upsalla, he sees curious black birds that he thinks are crows, but their eyes seem human. He is told they are actually kaia (jackdaws) and that they capture souls. He becomes convinced one of them is Matt. Another sad, beautiful story.

"They Got Louie" by F. Brett Cox -+- Two characters have a conversation about the topic of the title. They got Louie because he ate the green stuff. It is pretty obvious what the characters are but it's a very funny story.

"Inspiration 1.2" by Jane Lebak -+- Our narrator is a college professor. He comes home one night and is asked by his wife to debug the house. The house is controlled by a computer that will not let anything be done until the professor reads and critiques a story it has written. Very amusing!

"The Cat's House" by Alana I Capria -+- A grieving young woman joins the nuns of the cat god and their worship is described. Sure grossed me out, but I'm not a cat fancier. Depending on your inclination, you might find this fantasy or horror. The end would seem to indicate the latter but it's well done regardless.

"The Lost Books of the Painter's Wife" by Diane Glancy -+- A series of footnotes. Seems to have some sort of idea behind it.

"Crocodile Tale" by M. Glyde -+- Our narrator's sister, Helena, was murdered and she must care for her niece...and the niece's crocodile tale that everyone in their family grows in times of stress. Bizarre.

"The Lawn Fairy War" by James Van Pelt -+- Grace Lily White likes to have little statues of fairies in her yard. When Ashely Tombley moves next door, she populates her yard with gargoyles, much to Grace's dismay. Then, things get seriously out of hand. Great little fantasy and pretty amusing.

"The Absence of Cows" by Kristen Falso-Capaldi -+- Charlotte's marriage has broken up and she has returned to her mother's house. Her mother wonders where the cows that their neighbor, Jeremy Mitchell (always referred to by his full name), have gone to. He and Charlotte had kissed once when they were in eighth grade. She talks to him. His wife and kids have left him and the cows have just wandered off. He is sure they will return. Charlotte knows better. They briefly become lovers. Interesting character study. Very well-written.

"The Rising Up" by Karen Heuler -+- Franzy finds herself in a strange place and with a penis. She is told that she is in a dream world and must Rise Up with the rest of them. Things get stranger from there. Interesting fever-dream feel to it.

There are also two reprinted stories, "Fairway 619" by Rebecca Schwarz and "Big Feet" by Leslie What which I do not review.

See the Elephant is one of those magazines that must be read slowly and savored. Give it a try.

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