A Big Journal For Short, Short Prose & Poetry
Reviewing Juked, based in Los Angeles, was a breath of fresh air for me. Why? Not only are they an online literary magazine, but they also publish written works every month. While most magazines have one to two issues a year, Juked provides its readers with new stories, prose, and poetry every month. This provides more opportunities for writers and poets to have their work published and keeps readers from waiting six months to a year for a new issue of a magazine to come out. While Juked does come out with printed copies every year in the spring, in which the issues cost $12, their website is their main source of presence for their magazine. The main focus of this review will be on the pieces published during April 2012 and May 2012.
While it is stated on the info page that they accept any type of short story-length submissions, the majority of their work is centered around flash fiction. Most of their short stories aren’t longer than 1,000 words. I love to read flash fiction pieces, and think the length is perfect. This also allows for more pieces to be published a month, which eventually contributes to the grand total of pages that need to be printed for each copy of the issue. For some literary magazines, there is a limit on how long an issue is allowed to be. Long story short: the shorter the story is, the more pieces you are able to include.
As far as theme and style are concerned, the staff claims there isn’t one of either. Reading through the pieces, though, it becomes evident they lean toward a more experimental and off-the-wall style. For instance, the poem “Contains:” by Patrick Samuel is quirky and a mesh of run-ons, enjambments, and is written as one continuous stanza. Reading it aloud, it comes off a lot more like slam poetry rather than a traditional poem. Another piece that is a bit out of the traditional poetic style is the poem “Postcard” by D. Gilson. As you read through it, you get the idea that it’s supposed to be the script on a postcard the speaker is sending to Jimmy, who could be their friend, relative, or lover. The fact that it isn’t made clear adds more to the mystery and intrigue of the piece.
As for the flash fiction pieces, they don’t appear to have clear plots at first. It’s hard to pull off a full story with character development, rising action, and a clear conclusion, especially in less than 1000 words. Yet, these authors manage to find a way to do it with aplomb. One notable story is “Heavy Objects”by Stephen Langlois. This is an interesting read about a man who is sick of the direction his life is taking and snaps. The main character, who remains unnamed, decides to emulate the characters in the movies that wear cool leather outfits and seek vengeance on their enemies. While he realizes wearing a leather outfit isn’t as awesome as he imagined, he comes to love the thrill of causing chaos and the feeling of self-control in his life. Langlois managed to create a convincing plot, developed the character well enough that he was both multifaceted and relatable, and wrapped up with the conclusion that while a monster may have been born, the character achieved the sense of escape and freedom he craved in the first paragraph.
Another example is the story “Frank Joins the Dots” by Kevin O’Cuinn. This story has a plot line similar to Langlois’s flash fiction piece, but takes the character who snaps in a different direction. In O’Cuinn’s piece, the main character, Frank, decides to rob the bank from which he quit. The only issue is that he does so as an improv routine, the activity that Frank quit the bank for. In this case, he has no gun, just his hand, and sounds like a bank robber from classic black-and-white films. His friends at the bank, and the “coppers” who show up to the scene, do their best to persuade Frank to calm down. Frank refuses to stand down, believing with all his heart that the dots will connect and guide him to his future, and as a result gets shot in the foot by one of the officers. He is granted his wish at the end when he blacks out and sees the dots meant to connect appear before his eyes. While the previous story shows the main character continuing on with their adventures, Frank has met the end of his, but still getting what he wanted: for life to make sense.
Overall, Juked is an amazing and captivating magazine to read. The contributors’ stories, prose pieces, and poems are creative and innovative. The contributors themselves are from a variety of backgrounds, ranging from authors with MFAs and pieces published in multiple publications to writers who are relatively unknown and have a slight background, yet major interest, in writing. This publication is a great one to submit to for those who haven’t been published before. On the other hand, keep in mind that a majority of the pieces are flash fiction and poetry. If you are a writer aspiring to publish a part of a novel-in-progress, or a piece more than two pages long, this might not be the magazine for you.
If you are interested in submitting to Juked, you can visit their website at http://www.juked.com/index.html. They provide an email address to send submissions to; more details about submission guidelines can be found on their info page. Since they publish new pieces every month on their website, this allows writers and poets to send in their work any day of the year.