The new issue of Conjunctions comes in at right around 350 pages and is titled "Not Even Past: Hybrid Histories" and it's full of great, great writing.
It opens with a fantastic collage of both essay and inclusion of correspondence from Barney Rosset. Titled "Remembering Samuel Beckett," it includes, as noted, letters mailed back and forth between Rosset, formerly of Grove Press, and Beckett, whose U.S. publications first appeared with Grove. Rosset explains where he'd heard of Beckett, his early impressions of reading Beckett's work, shares his correspondence over the years, and more. It's a fascinating piece for anybody interested in Beckett beyond his own actual writing.
Other pieces I've enjoyed so far (again 350 pages long, I've not tackled the whole thing yet as it just arrived Friday):
Matt Bell's short story, "His Last Great Gift." Just a great story (novella? This sucker's 28 pages long - kudos to Conjunctions for publishing something this long) that dips into religion, creation, faith, the human spirit, and does all this with what is becoming Matt's penchant for very specific word choices. He's becoming another writer that I find myself reading aloud as I believe he's writing for the sound as well as the read. This story includes one of my new favorite sentences: "He says, Even Christ was the size of a pea once."
Andrew Ervin's short story, "The Light of Two Million Stars." It's pretty rare these days for somebody to write a story about the Holocaust and have it still feel fresh or new. Ervin accomplishes this in spades. A really excellent story reminding me to keep on the lookout for news of his trio of novellas being published by Coffee House Press in 2010.
Peter Orner's two-pager, "Geraldo," an innovative look back at the fine event many of us might remember, Geraldo's live opening of the long lost vault of Al Capone. Funny, yet not strictly written for laughs, Orner's packs a great deal into his two pages.
Can Xue's "Rainscape," (translated from Chinese by Karen Gernant and Chen Zeping. Probably my least favorite of the stories I've read so far. Just didn't quite get what the author was doing. I'm assuming it's more my reading than the writing or the translating.
A few others that might not need the publicity as much, but were enjoyed nonetheless, include new stories by William Gass, Robert Coover and an excerpt from Robert Bolano novel Antwerp (translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer).
A great issue from a great journal. Wander on over, look around and consider subscribing.
Some other pieces I've yet to get to but am looking forward to include new stories from Tim Horvath and Paul La Farge, and Gabriel Blackwell (and to be honest, I'm probably going to end up reading this whole issue as good as what I've read has been) plus a translation of Thomas Bernhard's poem Ave Virgil (translated from German by James Reidel).