Review by Nicole Redinski (Susquehanna University ’13)
Eckerd Review, an undergraduate literary magazine, highlights the exceptional artistic achievements of Eckerd College. It showcases poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and artwork from both current and past students. In the introduction of the 2011 edition, the editors write, “Eckerd has a rich tradition of developing the many disciplines of art […] and encourages the pursuit of craft.” And it’s clear that the contributors to this magazine have perfected the craft of their writing, combining the right amounts of imagination and skill. This is combination is most clearly seen in the wonderfully sculpted characters in this issue of the Eckerd Review that connects with the reader in unique and exiting ways.
In Lloyd Chapin’s nonfiction piece, “Remembering,” Chapin creates himself as a character by telling his story in the third-person point of view. Chapin remembers his more memorable time as the chief academic officer for Eckerd. His character particularly shines through during scene at commencement, at which he was speaking. Chapin writes, “…as [the students] crossed the stage, [each] had placed a coaster, with a message, on the lectern in front of him. The coasters were a response to his frequent warnings in class not to place soda cans unprotected on the seminar table. One coaster read, ‘You will not be forgotten.’ He knew that was an overstatement, but he had saved those coasters.” This shows that his personality has an impact on these students, that his quirky character traits – in this case, his insisting on something as trivial as coasters – but it was something these students took away and will always remember him for.
Chris Cox’s fiction piece, “Finding Han Solo,” is driven by his main character – a man attempting the daring rescue of his son’s Han Solo action figure from the radiator. Throughout the piece, the narrator creates a world of childlike wonder. Even though it is only a toy in the radiator, he regards it as the real Han Solo, just as his son might. He even talks to the toy, trying to calm it, chanting, “You’re gonna be okay, buddy. Hang in here. Everything’s gonna be all right.” The narrator connects with this toy, turning the action figure into a character. Cox writes, “I lock eyes with Han and I see it… fear, man – I mean real fear like you wouldn’t believe – the kind he never allowed to reach the surface before.” The narrator’s personality and his imagination that makes this story so funny and entertaining, any reader would want to continue on to see all of the other enjoyable pieces this magazine has to offer.
“Farmhouse on A Dirt Road,” a poem by John. C. Carter, also shows specific characters, yet doesn’t give them a name. He relies on their personalities to show what kind of character they are. The poem tells the story of a woman trying to leave her abusive lover, outlining the characters through their actions. Carter writes, “Her hand, not as convinced as his had been – / falters / in its reach for the gate. / The chair on the porch / rocking idly in the breeze, / content in its journey.” This shows that even though she wants to leave, she’s not convinced she should even though she is being hit. It’s part of her character, swaying back and forth like the rocking chair, consistently uncertain.
These are only a few examples of the many fascinating characters that appear in this issue of Eckerd Review, each creating an exceptional view of their world and offering thought-provoking experiences for the reader through the craft and vision of the contributors. A skill that has been refined through a perfect formula Eckerd accredits to their success. “Workshops and intense discussions late into the morning, the tight bond of artists sharing studio space, and the free critique of colleagues’ work: these are the ideals and characteristics of the Eckerd community,” their bio page says. Faculty and alumni follow these ideals as well, and that is why their works also appears in the magazine’s pages alongside those of current students. Eckerd Review has a distinctive characteristic of its own that way, setting itself apart from other undergraduate literary magazines, and creates a brilliant and clever reading experience.