We published Cascio’s essay, Kid, in Issue 12 in the Fall of 2018; speaking about both his writing and his visual art, he says each piece he creates is “a recorded haunting.” I know I’ve never stopped thinking about Kid, so he must be right. Of Cascio’s latest collection Tent City (Alien Buddha Press), one reviewer writes this:

Christopher Cascio notices everything — about neighbor’s dogs, a wrestling match, fathers and sons, a rain-drowned house. Under his inspection the details of living burgeon into major themes, so quietly the oncoming explosions barely register. And then, boom. Call these beautiful, deftly-crafted pieces short stories, small bejeweled things. But they are the size of the world.

Roger Rosenblatt

RR’s word choice has my attention, because some of it is actually quite far away from words that come to me at first: beautiful, bejeweled. Other words ring true for me: dogs, wrestling, drowned, explosions.

The fusion is in Cascio’s eye for the beauty and value of difficult, superficially ugly truths. He is a master of unveiled views into unpleasant subjects that allow us as readers to “get past” the roadblocks that a less-skilled writer can’t avoid. Stabbings, picking fights, heart attacks, watching a home fall apart, finding the strength not to end your life even when it would make the pain go away…….I have this flashback to the end of A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean:

When I finished talking to my father, he asked, “Is there anything else you can tell me?”

Finally, I said, “Nearly all the bones in his hand were broken.”

He almost reached the door and then turned back for reassurance. “Are you sure that the bones of his hand were broken? he asked. I repeated, “Nearly all the bones in his hand were broken.” “In which hand?” he asked. “In his right hand,” I answered.

Norman Maclean

Maclean and Cascio are very different writers, but they share the same gift, the capacity to look through the outward ugliness of life to the core beauty that lies within. People can do and say and suffer some monstrous things that are not “the things” themselves. You’ll want this unique collection on your summer reading list! TENT CITY

You can find Chris on Twitter here: @ChrisJCascio.

The Breakfast Club © Jamie Miller

Creative Nonfiction, #22, Spring 2022

Catherine Con, Mangifera Indica
Brad Gibault, The Myth of Pat
Mark Lucius, When You Wish Upon An All-Star
Beverley Stevens, A Proper Sunday Lunch
Marianne Worthington, Young and Red-headed

Featured Artist

Jamie Miller

The Spring issue is live, and the #BarnhillPrize is open. Life is good!

Catherine Con is back with another lush mystery-tinged narrative; this time her words bring us into a sensuous, dream-like meditation on wild mangoes. Brad Gibault leverages both humor and Greek mythology to explore his relationship with his school bus driver, Pat. Mark Lucius brings us back to witness how, at 10 years old, he faced more grown-up ethical decisions than have some adults and changed the athletic resumes of more than one person. Beverley Stevens sets a place for us at her grandmother’s formal dining table. Marianne Worthington uses her poet’s heart perspective on memories of her mother, angels, ghosts, and more.

And Jamie Miller with her art — well, you know how I feel about that.

EDG

P.S. And the #BarnhillPrize is open for submissions!

Untitled © Christopher Cascio

Creative Nonfiction, #21, Winter 2021-22

Wendy Fontaine, Green Pepper Standoff
Garry Howze, Learn Your Letters
Ann Kathryn Kelly, Propped
Dana Shavin, All You Can't Eat
Catherine Stratton, Our Secret
Melissent Zumwalt, The Swing Set

Featured Artist

Christopher Cascio

Not sure how we accomplished this, but today, February 1, is both the release of a new issue of Longridge Review AND opening day for submissions to our next issue. It would be groovy to believe I can accomplish this on the regular, but I think I’ll simply be grateful for the confluence.

Speaking of gratitude, I am awash in awe over our writers and artists. I feel this way every time we roll out an issue, but never take it for granted. Part of my mind holds back on expecting to love “the next issue” as much as I love the one or ones before it.

(Apparently, the universe is not humming along to the tune of my personal limitations Who knew, right?).

The diversity of CNF form, subject, tone, and conflict in these pieces is rich. You might notice a loose connection between all of them to relationships with fathers or father figures; in my first reads I didn’t notice it, but during the editing process it was impossible to miss. I learn so much from our writers, from their transparency and their willingness to dig deep, to put their humanity and that of those who brought them up in front of us readers and say, “This is who I was, who they were, and therefore part of who I am.”

What gets to me in this issue is how brave people can discover and own important turning points in their lives. There’s always a pivot, and I can feel the writers turning toward their personal sun. We don’t always see them walk into it, but somehow, I know they do.

Enjoy!

EDG

The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America.

Since 1976, hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in annual collections. Each year most of the writers and many of the presses are new to the series. Every volume contains an index of past selections, plus lists of outstanding presses with addresses.

The Pushcart Prize has been a labor of love and independent spirits since its founding. It is one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the 60’s and 70’s. Its legacy is assured by donations to its Fellowships endowment.

Longridge Review is proud to nominate 6 essays from 2020 for the The Pushcart Prize: Best of The Small Presses XLVI.

Congratulations to each of these wonderful writers, and thank you to everyone who found a forever home for his/her/their essay with us in 2020!

p.s. Our submission period is now open until the first of the year.

Featured image by upfromsumdirt.

Dear Friends —

I started to say I am writing to you from my garret, but then that makes it sound dismal. It’s not. The lights are on, the dog is sleeping, the family is all home. We are doing pretty well all things considered in this time of The Unknown.

I hope you are healthy and safe.

I’ve decided to close this submission period a month early. If you have something to send, by all means send away until April 3.

Longridge Review will publish our spring issue, and then regroup to prepare for the second annual #BarnhillPrize contest.

I hope this change won’t be too troubling to anyone. Many of us are making shifts in timelines and plans in light of the way life is changing every hour right now.

We are still here for you, our readers and writers. We’ve always had a virtual world of support, and that perhaps has never been more powerfully illustrated than right now.

Remember to connect where you can; I find Twitter to be an especially good medium for the #WritingCommunity. Click a heart for a writer’s tweet you like. RT an outstanding #essay or #LitMag. Build lists for yourself of online resources that encourage your writing life and help you feel part of something bigger than yourself. Check out some of our Twitter lists for inspiration and leads.

Stay Positive.

Stay Focused.

Stay in Touch.

Stay Home — for now.

And Write On!

Elizabeth Gaucher
Editor
Longridge Review

Twitter: @LongridgeReview

Art ©Melissa Doty

We will consider one creative nonfiction piece (up to 3,500 words) per submission period.

Flash is an exception: If you have multiple shorter pieces that are less than 1,000 words each and together do not exceed 3,500 words, you may submit them all together in one document. We ask that you explain this is what you are doing in your cover letter.

Visit our full submission guidelines here: https://longridgereview.com/submit/

Use this link to send us your best work: https://longridgereview.submittable.com/submit/158801/spring-2020

Art ©Melissa Doty

The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses series, published every year since 1976, is the most honored literary project in America.

Since 1976, hundreds of presses and thousands of writers of short stories, poetry and essays have been represented in annual collections. Each year most of the writers and many of the presses are new to the series. Every volume contains an index of past selections, plus lists of outstanding presses with addresses.

The Pushcart Prize has been a labor of love and independent spirits since its founding. It is one of the last surviving literary co-ops from the 60’s and 70’s. Its legacy is assured by donations to its Fellowships endowment.

We at Longridge Review are pleased to announce our 2019 nominees:

Congratulations to each of these wonderful writers, and thank you to everyone who found a forever home for his or her essay with us in 2019!

p.s. Our submission period is now open until the first of the year.

Featured image by Deb Farrell

Ask the Editor is a resource for our readers and writers in which we review and respond to popular questions about our journal, essay writing, submissions, and literary potpourri type stuff. Have a question you’d like to see answered here? Send it to edg dot longridgeeditors dot com. Chosen questions will be kept anonymous.

This recent question comes from a writer who submitted an essay to the Barnhill Prize contest.

Q: “I’m wondering if essays will also be considered for the online journal outside of the contest?”


A: The short answer is YES, but the complicating factor is we don’t yet know exactly how. We are planning to send up to 10 essays to our judge, and ideally the essays that are not the prize winner will be published online. That is the plan at this point. We don’t know how many essays we will receive, though so far we are off to a good start!

We are grateful to everyone who supports our journal, and we read every essay with focus and care.

Like many online journal editors, we’ve had a range of experiences: Essays we declined, but then returned to the writer with more time to work through revisions and the writer was thrilled; essays we declined and then later returned to the writer to work on and he/she was not interested; essays we’ve accepted with moderate edits, and some with no edits. Some essays could not work for us.

Publishing essays is what we love to do. Thank you to each of you who gives us a chance to read your work.


As our editorial team prepares for our first contest (The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction), we thought it would be valuable to share thoughts about some essays that “stick.” I love all of our essays, or they wouldn’t be here. But I went over every one thinking about which ones were memorable in that early phase of a first read. I’ve asked our editorial team to do the same, and in the ramp up to our contest submission period we will share our reader experiences with some of our favorite essays.

Today we welcome Suzanne Farrell Smith, one of our amazing writer/editors here at Longridge Review. Please enjoy her commentary on why she loves David McVey’s essay, “On the Wonder of the World.”

Photo via HistoryScotland.com

David McVey’s “On the Wonder of the World” drew me in immediately and made me forget I was reading a submission to Longridge Review. The opening line:

“We teased gravity, suspended above 100 feet of space on the Wonder of the World.”

I needed to know. Who are we? Suspended how? What is the Wonder of the World? Given my proximity to Coney Island and its 150-foot Wonder Wheel and even higher-flying rides, that first line takes on a carnival quality, inviting me to buy a ticket and go just about anywhere.

McVey gives us some answers right away, like the fact that the Wonder of the World is a soaring canal aqueduct, nicknamed as such by locals in his U.K. hometown. “We” are McVey and two childhood buddies, just “normal 9- or 10-year-olds engaged on business I can’t recall now.” The boys are out and about, as children are in the summer when school is off and the whole world—the whole wonder of the world—is waiting.

What follows is a story, relatively brief, shaped the same way the actual event was shaped, as a single thread across a chasm, with some breath-holding along the way. It’s that shape that gets me, the way the essay itself is like a bridge, and with the first line I’ve stepped onto it and know, for certain, I will cross to the other side. This particular shape appeals to me as a writer long attached to the idea that writing essays is a way to get to the other side of a question or a problem. Whether they offer a solution or insight or just another question, essays propel us forward. Even as we sit to read and write, we progress.

McVey’s story is detailed only with what’s most salient, and he playfully alludes to what’s been forgotten:

“I can’t remember who, but someone—possibly even I—said, ‘Why don’t we cross the Wonder outside the railing?’”

Who dared is less important than the fact that all went along with the dare. (I’m reminded of the often-charming way Mary McCarthy admits to things she can and can’t remember in her collection Memories of a Catholic Girlhood.) As such, the essay is restrained rather than plodding, and the story seems simple. Young boys wander, young boys grab at an idea, young boys attempt something dangerous without, in the moment, recognizing the danger. Nothing of consequence happens during the attempt. No one slips. No one is hurt. There is no trauma or tragedy around which to shape a wholly different essay.

But in time, the gravity of what could have happened seeps into McVey’s mind. He writes, “The experience has left its mark.” McVey considers the what-ifs in the same way that I do and the same way I know many others do. He questions, so he has to get to the other side.

My mother-in-law lives on the twenty-fourth floor of an apartment building on Florida’s east coast. While visiting with my own three boys for spring break, I sat with my husband, my mother-in-law, and other relatives on her balcony, sipping wine and munching on crackers and cheese and loving how social the boys were being, how interested they were in talking with us grownups about the evening lights, the drawbridge, the Atlantic horizon. One of my sons was wearing vivid orange pajamas. That night, I had a recurring nightmare that he flipped forward over the balcony railing, his tiny orange figure streaking toward the pavement below.

McVey ends his piece asking himself about a thing that didn’t happen that day on the Wonder. And he answers,

“I don’t know, but right now, I’m off to lie down in a dimly lit room.”

I know that feeling well. In Florida, at three in the morning, I lay in our dimly lit room, staring over the edge of the bed at my orange-clad son, whose air mattress was set up a few feet below. McVey’s essay came back to me then, as it has many times since. My son is lying on air, not concrete. He’s just a few feet below, not 100. He’s ok, I’m ok, McVey and his friends are ok. None of us fell. We’re all here, writing and reading and wondering, but none of us fell, except back to sleep.

— SFS

Thinking about sending us your work? Take a look at this post that outlines some of what we look for in what we publish.

As our editorial team prepares for our first contest (The Anne C. Barnhill Prize for Creative Nonfiction), we thought it would be valuable to share thoughts about some essays that “stick.” I love all of our essays, or they wouldn’t be here. But I went over every one thinking about which ones were memorable in that early phase of a first read. I’ve asked our editorial team to do the same, and in the ramp up to our contest submission period we will share our reader experiences with some of our favorite essays.

Today we welcome Mary Heather Noble, one of our amazing writer/editors here at Longridge Review. Please enjoy her commentary on why she loves Anne Noonan’s essay, “Stink Tree.”

Whenever I lead memoir writing workshops, one of my favorite prompts to give students is a scent prompt. I hand the students numbered mason jars, inside of which contain cotton balls saturated with various materials (things like detergent, cologne or perfume, bathroom cleaner, iodine, Hawaiian Tropics tanning oil). We dim the lights and calm our minds, and then I cue them to open their chosen jar and inhale before free-writing about whatever comes to mind. I keep the identity of the various scents concealed on a key, so that students can have an authentic sensory experience.

Our sense of smell is highly emotive, and therefore closely linked with memory. Indeed, doing the scent prompt is a bit like time travel — I’ve had older students from community writing workshops write about their childhood memories of playing hide-and-seek in the boat yard after smelling the petroleum-tinged scent of mink oil, or writing the secrets of an alcoholic relative after catching a whiff of a cotton ball soaked in rum. Certain smells can take us right back to moments in our past, and can serve as portals to our richest, most emotional material.

I thought of this phenomenon when I read Anne Noonan’s “Stink Tree” — how, in a split second, the scent of a tree could take the narrator from enjoying present-day brunch with friends on the porch all the way back to her childhood neighborhood and all the summertime associations that tree-scent carried with it. She writes, “I loved their smell, even though I couldn’t have described it if asked to…Who would understand, then or now, if I said the tree smelled like sun on skin? Or freedom? Or consolation?” Of course we are all familiar with the representations of certain smells — the summertime scent of freshly cut grass and how it reminds us of pleasant, lazy summer afternoons. But what I love about Anne Noonan’s piece is the specificity of her memory, how she zooms right through all the lovely summertime affiliations with the Tree of Heaven scent and lands on one particular memory filled with emotion:

“The smell of the tree meant that soon the park’s enormous pool would be filled by the huge city hoses. And when the pool first opened for swimmers, the smell of the trees would be barely distinguishable from the smell of chlorine on my skin, or on my wet towel as I lay on the concrete to dry off. The smell helped me keep my crying in check that day in the driveway when my newlywed sister and her husband drove away, moving to another state. I tried to be happy for them. It was the beginning of their Beautiful New Life Together, all their silvery wedding cards said so, but it felt like an end for me. The song When Will I See You Again was playing on their car radio as they hugged us all goodbye. I think I was the only one to notice it.”

Aside from its wonderful sensory details, Noonan’s “Stink Tree” is a true essay — by which I mean the writer makes a close observation about a thing (in this case, a tree) and uses it to explore a larger and more universal theme. “Stink Tree” isn’t just about the narrator’s memory of the Tree of Heaven, and its association with summer in her childhood neighborhood; it is also a journey into the symbolic meaning of this particular tree, its presence in lower-income neighborhoods, how she came to notice socioeconomic differences, and her reflections on class and privilege. Yet despite this author’s ability to “pan out” and reflect upon these broader themes,  the author keeps us grounded in her particular details. The writing, of course, is outstanding — making this journey into the nuance of growing up in a poor neighborhood a most delightful trip.

— MHN

Thinking about sending us your work? Take a look at this post that outlines some of what we look for in what we publish.