News and New Year’s

Dear Readers,

Over these last few months, we have been reevaluating and discussing many aspects of The Slag Review. Our lives have been turned upside-down in many ways, as they always seem to (even though it’s a surprise every time), through moves, career changes, and academic advances. Anyway, we’ve been thinking about how best to continue the magazine, what to change, where to focus. 

The big news is:

We will no longer be publishing on a quarterly schedule in print and online.

Starting January 1, 2019, we will be publishing BIMONTHLY online and printing an annual edition of the magazine that will feature some pieces from that year as well as brand new ones!

As both shepherds and custodians of new literary and artistic work, we need to ask ourselves if we’re doing the best we can, and if not, how we can change to best benefit our writers (and thereby our readers). When those questions started poking up a few months ago, we didn’t have a lot of answers. We knew two things: 1) there are so many wonderful, worthy pieces in the world, and we just want to publish all of them, and 2) we don’t have the time (or budget) to keep producing print issues quarterly. Time and again, the printing process itself would get in the way of us having a meaningful relationship with our writers, as well as each other.

So, we’ve gone with what we think will work the best for us and our writers. We hope you’re all as excited as we are to see even more work pouring forth from the forge!

Besides our next issue, which will be out on January 1, 2019, some things to look forward to are a Kickstarter later this year to help fund the print issue (perfect bound and all, nice-nice) and a podcast in association with the Slag Review! We’ll let you know more about them and other fun stuff as we get closer, so until then enjoy a brief snippet from Ryan Hubble’s “Killing the Worm,” which will debut on New Year’s along with the rest of issue 10!

Always yours,

The Slaggers

Killing the Worm (excerpt)

by Ryan Hubble

Paps, my great-grandpa, gave me the survival knife he’d carried as a pilot when I was five. He was ninety-one. I suppose he knew a little bit more than I did about what was to come.

Dad was an honest and good man. Grandpa was anything but honest or good. Mom said Grandpa was a drunk and a fiend. Dad said he didn’t know any better. Paps—who, too, was honest and good—said he was disappointed.

            So there was a bad generation between two good ones. I wondered if it was a pattern, if there was some kind of universal moral balance being kept in check by my family. If so, I was fated to be like Grandpa. But as a kid, I never thought to care.

Dad taught me to ride a bike by running backward in front of me. I was too focused on pedaling and kept crashing into mailboxes.

            “Concentrate on me,” he said. “Head up, eyes forward. Don’t think about pedaling. Just try and catch me.”

            Every time I fell, he made me walk the bike back to our driveway and start over.

Grandma always told me how much I resembled Grandpa. “You’re an exact copy of how I remember him,” she said. They’d known one another since the fifth grade. “I might as well have the younger him right in front of me all over again.”

            “Don’t you dare listen to her,” Mom said as she made me strip to my underwear just inside the door from our garage. “You look nothing like that man. If anything, you look like my dad.”

            We had just returned from visiting my grandparents. They were chain-smokers and never bothered to open a window. Mom threw all of my smoke-drenched clothes into the washer and ordered me to go shower.

“Trick is to turn the reel sideways when you cast and keep your thumb just lightly on the spool. Let it feed out smooth. Otherwise, you’re going to end up with a bird’s nest.”

            Grandpa turned the reel in my hand and placed my thumb on top of the line.

            “Like that. Just like that. Now, throw ‘er out there.”

            I tripped the bail and casted as hard as I could. The little topwater plug pulled the line out fast and smooth. But then it snagged. The line whipped back, and the plug landed a few yards away with a heavy plop. Tangled loops arced out of the spool like solar flares.

            “It’s all right.” He laughed. “We’ll just strip this one clean and re-spool it.”

            Grandpa handed me a fresh reel and went to work untangling the other one.

            I looked at him.

            “Well, go ahead. Give ‘er another try.”

            He smiled through the cigarette smoke.

 Dad had this long scar on his back. It started on the edge of his left shoulder blade and struck down all the way to his right hip. I first noticed it when he took me swimming at the river one Saturday. He saw me staring at it.

            “Don’t ever cry in front of your grandpa,” he said.

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