Friday, June 27, 2003

Gobshite Quarterly Issue 1, February 2003

This magazine is nothing if not ambitious. The lengthy and rambling editorial presents it as political and globally conscious, which it is, at least to an extent. There are some political essays and some very political fiction, but there are also some essays which are rather obvious and uninteresting and some fiction which is willfully obscure (sometimes while being obvious and uninteresting). The best pieces here are the poems of Vénus Khoury-Ghata, a Lebanese poet and novelist whose cycle "Les Mots" ("Words") appears here in all fourteen parts, both in French and English. These are wonderful poems filled with striking images, and stood out from the rest of the works.

One thing which sets Gobshite apart, the fact of its bilingual publishing: herein are pieces from Czech, Argentinean, Hungarian and Mexican writers as well, all presented both in their original form and in English. Karel Capek's pieces are smothering and dark, Paul Krassner's are bitter and angry (if somewhat superior in tone), and the excerpts from Luisa Valenzuela's novel Deathcats are dense and difficult out of context. For a first issue, GobQ did little to make me feel at home--instead I felt as if I were being kept at arm's length until judged worthy. I think that perhaps the fault is at the editorial end--little effort is made to educate the reader about the contributors, the assumption being made that they should be known. Instead of making excuses for my ignorance, I think perhaps that I will let this one pass next time.


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