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Spring 2011 - BOOK REVIEW by Charles Rammelkamp
"Best of the Web 2010"

Full disclosure: The reason we’re reviewing Dzanic Books’ Best of the Web 2010 in this edition of The Potomac is that one of the selections, “After I Blew Through My Hysterectomy,” a poem by Kendra Kopelke, originally appeared in The Potomac. Yet it is only one of ninety-five pieces chosen for the collection, which includes poetry and fiction, that ranges from micro to short stories, from over sixty online publications. The sixty-five page, double-column index of internet publications in the back suggests that nominations came from many more—indeed, they pored over about 1,000 submissions, according to Kathy Fish, the guest editor. Thus, it is not only an honor that one of the selections comes from The Potomac, but more important, web publishing continues to flourish as we move deeper into the new century.

Of course, this was surely inevitable, but the debate about online versus print publications has largely been put to rest by now. True, there&s a lot of dreck out there in cyberspace, but that’s always been true about print media as well. This volume demonstrates beyond a doubt that worthy literature exists online. The work of a Pulitzer Prize winner is included here, no less.

Any wide selection such as this is eclectic in nature with no unifying theme and reflects the taste and judgment of the guest editor, Kathy Fish, the series editor, Matt Bell, and the others involved in the publication (Dan Wickett and Steven Gillis, maybe others). They chose well, which is not to say that there may have been others out there just as deserving of publication, but that’s the nature of such a project, choosing from a large variety of options.

This volume demonstrates beyond a doubt that worthy literature exists online.

As a reviewer, then, I’d like to exercise the same authority and point out some of the pieces that impressed me the most. “Pop Star Dead at 22” by Dave Houseley, an editor at Barrelhouse, a flash fiction that appeared in Wigleaf, has a familiar voice from the electronic age, hip, funny, leaving you wanting more. “John Henry’s Tracks” by Matthew Glenwood first appeared in Diagram and at twenty pages is one of the longer selections. Sara Levine’s “Baby Love” is another laudable flash fiction that originally appeared in Necessary Fiction, and “Family” by Jensen Beach is another, likewise feom Necessary Fiction, a site worth checking out.

The collection is fiction-heavy, but there are good poems, too. As well as Kendra Kopelke’s, Matt Hart’s “I Feel Better, and So Can You” (H_NGM_N), Leslie Harrison’s “How I Became a Ghost” (Memorious), “Geomancy” by F. Daniel Rzicznek (Guernica) and James McCormick’s “Trouble” (The Barefoot Muse) stood out for this reviewer.

A variety of other selections straddle both poetry and prose. August Tarrier’s “Field Notes” (Diagram) and “Translations of ‘My Refrigerator Light Makes Its Way Toward You’ Into 34 Languages Spoken in the Many Woods of Grief” by Lucas Farrell (alice blue) are two. “Ideally Learnt French for Eavesdroppers” by Brian Baldi (Matchbook) is another.

All in all, this is an entertaining collection that invites jumping around, browsing, perusing. No matter where you open the book, you’re sure to be snagged—not unlike surfing the web, eh?


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