Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Issue 5 (AKA Volume 3, Number 2)

This is, once again, a back issue of the Gavin Grant/Kelly Link-edited zine which comes out twice a year, and which recently purchased one of my stories. Hey, I get my plugs where I can.

The first story in this issue is Christopher Barzak's "A Mad Tea Party," an unsettling story about death, madness and broken china. It's not clear to me if this is about the real Alice, but it's well done and genuinely strange, so I liked it.

"Other Agents" by Richard Butner is a tale of assassins--would-be and temporal--during downtime. It succeeds best as a mood piece of sorts, of anticipation without much tension, of hurry-up-and-wait. Nicely mundane.

Kelly Link's story "The Dictator's Wife" appears here, which I suppose could be construed as a conflict of interest, but I say it's their magazine and it's up to them what they publish in it. I might be less forgiving were it less of a story. From the very first line ("The dictator's wife lives above the shoe museum."), this is a surreal tale which slowly becomes all too real, the confessions of a sort of alternate Imelda Marcos. Everything, from the attitude of the visitor to the true identity of the museum's curator, is subtle and perfect.

"Hydrophilia" by Tim Emswiler has some powerful imagery but stretched the melodrama out a bit too much for my taste. It's the tale of a failing marriage and the ocean in winter, and a husband's odd way of leaving his wife.

Finally comes Lucy Snyder's "A Preference for Silence," a brief tale of what my affection for Ren and Stimpy will only allow me to call space madness. Which really isn't appropriate, since although this story has some humor, it's very dark, and the madness is real. There's a nice parallel between the Russian novels which Cassandra immerses herself in and the cabin fever which drives her over the edge. Well done.

This issue also contains poetry (which I will not attempt to review), essays (some are humorous and could be classified as fiction) and reviews.