I received a free copy of this journal for review purposes.
This is the second issue of The Rag that I have reviewed. I put it aside for awhile until I was in the right mood for it. The Rag concentrates on urban, transgressive, gritty fiction by upcoming writers. As one would expect the quality of the writing varies quite a bit. I generally preferred the poetry as a group in this issue to the previous issue and preferred the short stories in the previous issues. The best piece is the poem Kuskanax Creek by Jordan Mounteer, and another stand out poem is Todd's Mom by David Joshua Jennings. Amongst the short stories, I especially liked Where the Butterflies Meet, which is a fairly standard living a disaffected and aimless life in New York City, but which is oddly compelling and Ayesha Miller by Royce Brooks. Ayesha Miller is most notable for the startling odd formal prose, although the character and events don't live up to the prose.
The reason why, I put aside this issue of The Rag is that when it started to read it, it made me want to write and I wasn't in a place for writing. This issue is most interesting as a collection rather than for the actual pieces taken individually. I'm not overly in love with where modern literature is at right now. I find there to be too much ironic distance and patronizing the characters and not enough engagement with actual lives and emotions. That doesn't mean that I don't like experimental or fantastic works. What is interesting about the collection as a collection is that it does not feel in the main stream of acclaimed literature. If you look at the collection as a whole there is a sense of formless unease. There is a kind of weary aimlessness to it as a unity. I don't so much think that the works here are the next wave in literature, but that they herald it in some way. That's what makes it interesting to me as a writer. I don't meant that only people who write should read it. It is a good piece for people who are wondering about what is going on under the surface of literature these days. Just that there is something about this issue as a collection that seems to point to the future in a way that may be only obvious in retrospect.