Down the Rabbit Hole

A Review of Sarah Rose Etter’s Tongue Party

Tongue Party by Sarah Rose Etter
2011, Caketrain Press
Reviewed by Melissa Reddish

When I first received Sarah Rose Etter’s Tongue Party in the mail, I knew nothing about it other than it had won the 2010 Caketrain chapbook competition. In hindsight, I’m extremely glad I knew nothing about this collection, because watching each beautiful, terrifying, utterly bizarre story unfold is part of what makes reading this cohesive collection so enjoyable.

Reading each story is a delightful trip down the rabbit hole. Many of the female protagonists live in worlds ruled by the dizzying logic of nightmares, struggling against situations beyond their control. In the title story, the protagonist must attend the tongue party, because, well, she must. While later we learn more about the relationship between the narrator and her father (one of several characters who abuses a position of authority and trust), the narrator never stands up and says, “No, I will not attend the tongue party.” The tongue party is as central to her reality as going to the DMV is in ours, and through it, we are able to experience the rawness of her fear and her desire for love. In fact, at no point does any character question the reality they find themselves in; like dreams, we don’t realize something is amiss while the dream is happening. And because Etter builds each world with such detailed, logical precision, we as readers don’t question what is happening either. Continue reading

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Kill Yourself (viii)

by J.A. Tyler

My father withered when I told him, or he did not move at all. Or I did not tell him. Because in the trees where I sit when the wind isn’t, there is the belief in coming down. And I am no longer a baby cradled.

What it means when I write a letter to Leonard is that I love him and there are words I want to use that I do not otherwise. So I pencil them out and send the sentences, this packed suitcase, to his house on his farm where the sun rises. And I don’t write my return address or sign them with the name that I have. They go with my fingerprints but no one can chase those through this town.

Yesterday my letter only said Leonard, I love you. The day before my letter said I will hold you until we are no longer pumpkins on vines. The day before the day before I didn’t send a letter because I was in Leonard’s bedroom, ruffled as feathers in his sheets, listening to the mice scurry in his walls.

Continue reading

Recently On Emprise | J.A. Tyler | 1 Comment

Assateague Shells II:

Notes Toward An Ecumenical Poetics

  • What we abandon is more important than what we salvage.
  • It is wise to comprehend the poetic line before abandoning it.
  • When a poet argues with the ghosts of her teachers, she is really arguing with the ghosts of her younger selves.
  • The posturing poet habitually risks losing the capacity to distinguish between her true self and the act.
  • It is difficult to tell which is more dire: the tangible self in the mirror or the near-self in the poem.
  • A voice that doesn’t sing isn’t much of a voice.
  • Feigned preciousness isn’t lyricism.
  • In its brief flowering, a good poem knows more than its maker.
  • The trick to being prolific is to not make writing an occasion.
  • For the overzealous poet, today’s publication may be tomorrow’s humiliation.
  • Continue reading

Assateague Shells | Adam Tavel, Assateague Shells | Leave a comment

Rescued Fiction #1

Hush by Meg Pokrass

We’re very excited to announce a new feature here at Emprise Review: Rescued Fiction. Each issue, we will feature a piece of fiction that we think is grand, and that sadly no longer has a home due to the demise of the online journal or magazine in which it was originally published. Most magazines can’t hang around forever, but we think good fiction ought to.

Our first featured author is Meg Pokrass and her 2010-Wigleaf-long-listed piece, “Hush.” This beautiful story was originally published in Bananafish; while we think it’s a sad sad thing that such a great publication has expired online, we are awfully glad to be able to present it to you here at Emprise Review.

(Send us your fiction so we can rescue it! Here are the rules: it has to be fantastic, it has to be from an online literary magazine or journal that no longer exists in online form, and it has to be (relatively) short, as in, under 4000 words. Submit just like you usually would, but including “Rescued Fiction” somewhere in the title line, preferably like this: “Rescued Fiction: Title of My Story.” Let us know in the cover letter where the story originally appeared online. We look forward to doing a little resuscitation!)

Thanks for helping us rescue great fiction so that we can give it a wider readership. Good words deserve to live on. Continue reading

Emprise Notes | Hush, Meg Pokrass | Leave a comment

(Notes on) A Western Landscape

by Eric Rawson

A horse narrows herself
Into a rogue wind

Highways disperse:
Horizon heat-haze hamlets hills

The clock of thought
No way to fence
Movement now

Like hunger
One forgets the size

People are ‘he’ and ‘she’ and ‘they’

‘Was I sleeping?
It doesn’t seem
That we were talking about Miles Davis’

The land opens
Its secrets but
No one knows where to look

Eric Rawson lives in Los Angeles. His book The Hummingbird Hour was published recently.


From The Issue | Eric Rawson | Leave a comment