The Barcelona ReviewAn electronic, bilingual, bi-monthly, English-Spanish Review of Contemporary Fiction, REVISTA INTERNACIONAL DE NARRATIVA BREVETBR Small Pressshort stories, bilingual, translations, poetry, audio, Catalan, Spanish, Castellano
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issue 36

International Review of Contemporary Fiction

May - June 2003

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We’re pleased to present our 6th Anniversary issue this month, kicking off with a story by talented new Scottish writer Iain Bahlaj, which serves as a prequel to his recently released debut novel Tilt. Tilt covers the same transgressive ground as Dennis Cooper - teen rent boy/gay porn - but differs in its realistic treatment and focus on the psychological rather than the extremes of sexual fantasy. In Sugar we are introduced to Mike, a key figure in the novel. We also offer an extract from Tilt (reviewed in this issue). It’s a treat to read the prequel and then move into the novel.

Last year I had the pleasure of reading the short novel The Sound of My Voice by Ron Butlin, another exciting Scottish writer, which follows an executive in his daily life of die-hard alcoholism. In an entirely different vein, Butlin offers the story Vivaldi, The Jumping Cardinal, God, Clint and The Number Three. It’s fun, quirky, postmodern - a delightful divertimento, which will appear next year in the author’s collection of "Vivaldi" tales.

From the U.S. we have a self-contained extract from the novel Bee’s Tree by Greg Chandler that contains three thoroughly engaging characters, originals all. In issue 15 TBR presented Chandler’s story The Ghost of Sharon Tate. Be sure to catch it, too, if you missed it first time round.

And a special delight from Argentina: two short stories by acclaimed writer Abelardo Castillo that appear here for the first time in translation. Ernesto’s Mother follows a group of young boys on a curious sexual adventure, while Girl from Somewhere Else provides a look at elusive love and longing from an older man's point of view. If you want to practice your Spanish, go to the original versions first.

Last issue writer Gretchen McCullough, a teacher at the American University in Cairo, sent an essay touching on the mood in the city as the U.S. geared up for war. This issue, at our request, she has sent a second warm, personal and informative Letter from Cairo, which brings us up to date.

Our Picks from Back Issues are Hieroglyphics by Anne Donovan, who was recently shortlisted for the Orange Prize for her novel Buddha Da; and Burning Luv by Steven Rinehart. Engaging stories from two very talented writers.

No winners for our quiz last issue, All About Books (click here to see answers). This issue’s quiz is Literature-to-Film. Have a go and perhaps win a 30-euro gift certificate from Amazon.

In addition to Tilt, book reviews include Oryx and Crake, Margaret Atwood's newly released dystopian novel; Shoedog by George P. Pelecanos (Serpent’s Tail’s new re-release of the crime classic); and Harry and Ida Swop Teeth by Stephen Jones.

On a local note: As we were going on-line last issue, the war in Iraq was about to begin. We offered some links to various writers, who spoke out against the war - Martin Amis, Zadie Smith, etc. - as well as links to some provocative journalism, which we continued to update (click here to read). I wrote that the mood in Barcelona was one of strong protest, with massive anti-war rallies. That intensified as the war began, with obvious targets such as McDonald’s getting attacked (by a small minority), which necessitated police protection.

But as the war wound down, slowly the heated protests settled into candlelight vigils and a form of protest called the "caserolada,’ a tactic taken from South America, in which every night at 10:00 people gathered in squares or stood on their balconies and banged kitchen lids together or hit lids with spoons, creating one hell of a racket. It served as a way for the city to collectively voice its anger and discontent. That ceased with the end of the war, but the triumphal mood in the U.S. was looked on here with loathing. The American press wrote of "liberation"; the Spanish wrote of "invasion" and "occupation." People are infuriated with the U.S. (with the backing of the British and Spanish governments) for having bypassed the U.N. and ignored the protests of the international community. They demand explanations for the shaky premise on which the war was fought, especially as no WMD have been found. (See a good summary of postwar queries in London’s Independent; be sure to read, too, from the U.S., Archipelago editor Katherine McNamara’s article: Patriotism and the Right of Free Speech During Wartime.) The mood is less vocal on the streets, but more anti-American than I have ever known it, although everyone is quick to point out that they have no quarrel with the American people, only the government. Still, the situation is disquieting. We Americans abroad find ourselves apologizing for our country’s behavior - most recently for its appalling conduct towards France - and we worry about the crackdown on dissent in the U.S.

Apart from the political resentment - which will surface whenever the subject is brought up - life has returned to normal. Summer weather is here, the beaches are packed and the city is bursting with tourists here for a good time. In that spirit, we invite you to read our latest offerings, and as always we welcome your comments. See you again in two months . . . .

Jill Adams
  Jill Adams, editor


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With six years' worth of short fiction, plays & interviews from such diverse talents as George Saunders, Douglas Coupland, Irvine Welsh, Pinckney Benedict, G.K. Wuori, Scott Heim, A.M. Homes, Alan Warner, Poppy Z. Brite, Laura Hird, Elissa Wald, Jason Starr, Brian Evenson and new kids on the Net like William Cuthbertson, Aimee Krajewski, Jean Kusina, David Alexander, Lenny T and Victor Saunders. This text is the link.

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