I received the Harvard Review as part of my Journal of the Month subscription. I must say most of it I found boring. The stories and essays, for the most part, did not grab my attention. At least one I skipped after four pages of droll. The others I struggled through, trying to get something out them, trying to figure out what I was missing. The poetry also felt lacking, though I often feel that, but I came across three poems, two poets, that struck me deeply, and 3/20 isn’t too bad a success rate in my experience.
I will admit that getting sucked into literary magazines is hard because they jump around so much. With a collection of short stories or poetry at least the author is making a compilation for you and something, whatever makes the author unique, stays constant across the board. You can look forward to more of it. Editors of literary magazines are making compilations as well but the material is so disparate that the kind of continuity that keeps you engaged into the next piece is almost impossible to create.
The poems I loved were by Anya Silver (Maid Maleen and Snow White) and Charles Harper Webb (People Think That I’m a Gourmet Chef).
There was a story at the end about a Bangladeshi immigrant in Queens that was incredibly striking and sad and had amazing voice and narrative (by Martin Cloutier). And one of the first stories about a woman trying to get her child into daycare also did a great job with voice and tone though the narrative was not as strong (by Johanna Berkman).