I’ve had a small presence on Goodreads for a few years now, and once in a while a writer will ask me if I would like to read/review their work. For the most part I politely decline, not due to any fault of the writer but merely because my particular taste in literature hasn’t coincided with the writer’s subject matter. Occasionally though I get a request that I’m happy to oblige - change that – I’m enthusiastically willing to rip their arm off and grab what’s on offer. Recently I got such a request from Dan Reilly….
“Are you currently accepting review requests from publishers? If so, I'd like to send you "The Rag" (www.raglitmag.com) a new electronic literary magazine featuring contemporary short fiction, poetry and art. The Rag is a little different from most lit mags, as the material we publish tends to fall on the grittier, transgressive side, and after reading some of your thoughtful literary reviews here on Goodreads I thought you might enjoy our publication. If you're interested I can send along free pdf/ePub/mobi versions of the magazine for your consideration. Thanks for your time.”
To say this piqued my interest, could be described as an understatement on par with saying “The North Pole, a bit cold innit?”. So I checked them out
“The Rag was founded in September 2011 by Seth Porter and Dan Reilly, who serve as the primary readers and editors. Krissy Marheine designs the magazine and this website. The name The Rag came about both because it speaks to our underlying ethic-we're independent, and we like our writing on the gritty and grimy side-and because it looks back to the heyday of writing and publishing, when you could read good stories or poetry in just about any old rag, and writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald were able to make a living from writing short stories alone. But the rags that used to publish cutting-edge writing either died off or grew up and turned stale. At The Rag, we hope to be on the front line of a new vanguard of electronic literary magazines with the means and the will to seek out and then support fresh voices.
We think literature is and always will be important to our culture, and a vibrant literary community requires writers who can afford to write. Bylines don't pay the bills. So, we always pay our writers. This helps draw in the talent, and that's the ultimate goal, discovering and publishing talented new writers, and creating a magazine worth reading.”
Interest now well and truly piqued, and a copy on my kindle – this one…
The Winter/Spring 2013 is the fifth issue and there’s a question that binds all the disparate parts and that is…
What defines an action as good or evil? What drives a person to act immorally?
For example the opening tale is about a female necrophiliac, justifying her feelings, her obsessions with the dead, as she drives off with a corpse. We follow her attempts to rationalize her actions, as we follow her journey away from the funeral parlour. In the second story a Police Officer decides to kill someone, the third is an easy? way to make fast money, the next is how easy it is to cross a line, a young man goes from identity theft to hitman with very little difficulty. All of the tales seem to concern characters isolated from life, from those boundaries that we cross with peril. In the description it said that this magazine publishes tales that fall on the grittier, transgressive side & this seems to fit the tales here, and also the poetry.
Cats As The Meaning Of Life - Misty Lynn Ellingburg
The meaning of life is cats, said the cat
and the meaning of life is your eyes.
A belly of fur and a heartache like hers,
and a shrinking to half-past your size.
Half-past your size when it’s half-passed
her eyes; in her eyes is the prize of surprise,
your eyes were the moon and her heart was half-
but it’s not quite enough to entice.
The Kittycat insists in its shrill feline way
even beasts of burden have a burden,
but beasts on the prowl must be wise as the owl,
Wise, though it all be uncertain.
Still, the meaning of life is cats, said the cat
and the meaning of life is a promise.
Though it’s emptier still on that shrill windowsill,
and infinity’s cold, but it’s honest.
Can I just say I Love This, it reminds me of poets like Lear, Carroll & Milligan, I just love the word play, the way it rhymes & gallops along almost tripping itself up, almost - but like a tightrope walker, you’re never sure if it’s part of the act or a fall will come, until you hit that wonderful last line. This is just one of the poems in this magazine, I’ll be placing another on my twitter Poetry anthology @pomesallsizes to give you another example of the depth of writing in The Rag.