It’s weird reading the subsequent issue of something you’ve been published in.Your issue was a darling, perfect child: you loved its aesthetic, the words that were yours, the words that weren’t yours…And then, a year later, you are sitting at your desk, looking down at this upstart publication that has nudged your pet issue off Readings’ shelves, and you’re feeling disgruntled. Verandah 24, eh? What’s with the squarish pages? The pixelated cover?
Okay, so I am a little bit biased. Verandah 23 was my first reading. It’s special. But Verandah 24 is still a decent publication. Opening with a story rife with sexual confusion and teen-angst, it showcases poetry, literary and genre fiction, and art. Like most anthologies, some of the work wasn’t to my taste, but I did like Deb Wain’s ‘Morning Stranger’ and Adam Tucker’s ‘The Boy, His Mother, the Father, and a Dog’. Both stories were suggestive, alluding to backstage events: the disappearance of a girl, the death of a dog. I also enjoyed the lean feel of ‘First Date’ by Jacinta Butterworth, the exaggerated ‘bureaucration’ of ‘In Paper Hallways’ by Rhett Davis, and the Rhys Tate’s compact yet fleshed out ‘Something We Have Lost’. Slotted in between the stories are poems and artwork: my favourite was Erica Hurrell’s photo with its cheeky title and vibrant colours.
Apart from an interview with Tom Cho and a microscopic interview with Ross Hunter (why interview only one prize-winning contributor?) Verandah 24 stays clear of non-fiction. Like the artwork and poetry, the interviews helped break up the fiction monopoly but I would have liked to see an opinion piece or maybe a script thrown into the mix. It’s a bit much to ask, since the journal is entirely made up of unsolicited submissions, but something that future contributors might consider taking advantage of.