Sunday, June 29, 2003

. . . is this a cat? a question, a publication of The Fortress of Words

The Fortress of Words is the publishing concern of Christopher Rowe, although "publishing concern" is a big bunch of words. Basically FOW publishes Say . . . (of which . . . is this a cat was the maiden voyage) and nothing else (so far).

The contents of . . . is this a cat? consist of answers to the question posed, in fictional, factual, graphical or other forms. There's "Cat Years" by Scott Westerfield, which takes a bouncer's request for ID to absurd and literal lengths. There is "Nakadamit ang bata na parang pusa," by M. L. Konett, the story of a Filipino mother and daughter with an affinity for cats. Jeffrey Ford contributes "Summer Afternoon," the story of a blocked writer who places imaginary phone calls to Henry James and real ones to a woman novelist. Gwenda Bond's "The Strange Case of Portnoy Rowe: A Gumpaw Story" takes a hard-boiled investigative approach (complete with feline P.I.'s), while Justin Colussy Estes's "His Master's Face" is a comic about shifting identities. "I Remember the Catsuit Kids" is a surrealistic fictional family memoir by Alan Deniro, while "Four Scenarios" by Justine Larbalestier takes a direct approach to possible answers. There are stories by Alex Irvine and Richard Butner, charmingly odd pieces by Gavin J. Grant, an essay by Emily Pohl-Weary, a crossword puzzle (you read it right) by Pen Waggener, and a nonfiction piece on delusional misidentification syndromes by Ted Chiang. All in all, a strong issue, the best pieces being the Westerfield and the Butner, though Gavin Grant's oddities are also very entertaining.


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