Fascinating Travel Writing in Stellar Online Mag
Lowestoft Chronicle publishes some of the finest work of travel writing on the Internet today. Yours truly had been assigned to review Summer, Issue 26, and I found that I wanted to tell all of my friends about it. The pieces, specifically works of fiction and nonfiction, are captivating. Enamored by this work is not the appropriate way to describe my experience—I was enthralled by the work, by the control in narrative each of the contributors have. I was compelled to read each of the pieces, with the exception of one piece or two, from the first word to the last. Like a new lover, Lowestoft Chronicle fascinated me more times over than I anticipated, and I believe that it is something the journal aims for and will continue to do.
Before I read a piece of published literature, I look for the biography. It is something I do before I start a book or journal. I want to know where the writers are from and what is important to them. While each of these contributors have some kind of publishing history, some are mid-career writers, while writing, for others, are publishing work as their second career. One thing that I found to be especially exciting is that the contributors hail from sea to sea, a point of interest that other publications advertise. What seems to be important here is not so much where a writer comes from but where they’ve been, where they are going, and the kind of perspective travel offers to them. When it comes to submitting my own creative work to a journal, diversity in perspective that one acquires through place or change is something I look for among contributors.
Lowestoft Chronicle’s site is easy to navigate. Upon visiting their landing page, one is presented with the current issue. Along the left hand side, the work is organized by genre: Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. The interface of the site is clean, almost deceivingly so, which allows the reader to sink into the work itself, rather than navigating tricky drop down menus. Below Lowestoft Chronicle’s banner, one finds links to the journal’s archive, about page, and submission guidelines. The site too is ad-free, which suggests that the engine behind this publication is not revenue but driven by their contributors, editors, word of mouth, and exposure byway of reviews such as this one.
For this particular issue, there are twelve contributors in all: two poets; four memoirists; six fiction writers. My favorite piece, Peter Marsh's “There was a Knock,” follows the story of the murder and betrayal of Aizaki Nobuyuki and Nakajima Wataru, what one would consider classic noir. Hoshi Masato hires Hyuga Akira to subdue the two gentlemen mentioned above who are the next of kin to a family fortune that has no direct beneficiary. The story itself is told in sharp dialogue, the existence of formalities between the hired and the hire-e a testament to the differences among cultures:
“Hyuga Akira, at your service, sir,” he said, bowing deeply.
“You are on time. Please come inside,” replied the older man. “I am Hoshi Masato. I am pleased to make your acquaintance.”
“You understand, in my line of work it is best not to exchange business cards,” explained Hyuga.
Hoshi closed the door behind Hyuga, turned the key, and tugged the handle to check that the door was secure.
“I understand, Hyuga-san. Please take a seat.”
What we find here is a difference between what we are taught as writers about dialogue, mainly that hellos and goodbyes are usually unnecessary. This writerly advice is turned on its head when the subtleties of language communicate something about the culture in which these characters exist. Later, we see the same formalities, even as these men have become partners in a double murder:
“It is done,” said Hyuga, bowing deeply.
“You are on time. Please step inside,” replied Hoshi.
Hoshi slid the door closed behind Hyuga.
It is the way in which we travel, as readers, to places different than our own.
Another story I particularly liked has to do with the way in which the definitiveness between reality and virtual reality becomes lost. The speaker of “Virtuality” (Ivy Goodman) becomes disoriented, fearful, and trapped in virtual Eyre when the virtual world begins to resemble his own, when the speaker’s significant other, Katie, appears in this virtual world:
A woman with her back to him stood humming at the sink, and he recognized the sound of happiness in those few sweet bars. She filled a glass with water; she turned off the tap. Her hand flicked at her shoulder, and the gesture rippled through her hair. Katie? Sometimes he felt so close to her that he forgot she was someone else, separate, apart from him. That’s who she is, he thought now, as if he’d caught her unaware, by chance, in an unexpected place, and the yearning was even stronger and stranger, on finding her inside the screen.
At this point, the speaker struggles to maintain what is virtual and what isn’t, his confusion opening up in him a cell of sorts:
The camera leveled, and her face and pale throat swirled out of the shadows. “So you didn’t fix that broken tile?”
“I didn’t have a chance.”
The male voice—was that his? It was jarringly reminiscent, but also jarringly unlike. It was not how he thought he sounded, just as his image, when caught in amateurish videos made by friends, was not how he thought he looked. But the woman’s voice was something else. The woman’s voice was very, very close.
The end, left unresolved, leaves us with a nightmarish feeling, the feeling that we, like the speaker, might not wake from a terrible dream.
One of the fascinating things about this particular publication is that the editors do not compromise the integrity of the journal and what they decide to publish. Because the journal is not limited by space or affordability the way a printed journal might be, Lowestoft Chronicle publishes just the right amount of work to be relevant and hard-hitting. I expect this journal to be around for quite a while longer.