The theme of this issue of The Lifted Brow is ‘interloping’, promising stories about intrusion and being in places where writers don’t belong. I didn’t pay too much attention to this, as any piece can fit a theme when looked at abstractly. The editor also asks readers not to think about this, so I obeyed.
For those not familiar with The Lifted Brow, it features fiction, artwork, and commentary on almost everything. I found though, maybe four stories in, the content in this issue surrounds the thoughts of those amidst a quarter-life crisis. Most pieces display themes of discontent, insignificance, nostalgia, career anxiety, fear, and loneliness, with protagonists often settling for the worst. I recognised similar themes of despair, violent domination and frustration within the illustrations. Amongst the heavy reading stories, I enjoyed the little surprise anecdotes, the pull out comics, easy recipes, and the ‘job ads you probably shouldn’t respond to’.
‘When You Kiss Me’ by Tim McGuire is effortlessly hilarious. Poor, sickly Tim feels neglected by his friends when he contracts glandular fever, and comes to learn his deep hatred of his moronic, immature and unbelievably self absorbed boyfriend.
‘The Arrangement’ by Laura Jean McKay is fantastically written, sexually powerful, and extremely moving. A couple, still appearing to be very intensely in love, fear the sex in their otherwise perfect relationship has become joyless. To the woman’s agonising dismay, her boyfriend puts forward an arrangement whereby the couple is able to sleep with others. This piece is quite sad, but poetic in its realistic description of love-related pain.
Featuring some cool artwork, ‘Forays Into my New Age Rage’ details Jenny Valentish’s adamant journey towards an enlightenment of any kind. This piece is heavily relatable, intelligent, and generously revealing.
In ‘Garments for the Grave’, Christine Priestly tells of how a fashion designer began dressing the dead by experimenting with decomposing pigs, and became a funeral celebrant. Her experiences and blunt truths quickly triggered my neurotic fear of death, and had me knocking on my sleeping housemate’s bedroom door. However, I admired the honesty, the delicacy, and insane amount of respect Christine gives to her work, and to the families her work has affected. This piece was a perfect and cleverly put together analysis of how humans come to terms with death.
In ‘Interloping’, Peter Polites gives a voice to a young man who mockingly rubs his raging sexuality into the nose of his judgmental mother. The story follows him to a party where he meets the older man he is sleeping with; a wealthy lawyer. He shows an obvious uneasiness around his lover’s suspiciously intrigued friends, which he quickly represses, recklessly surrendering to danger.
Issue 15 is almost absolutely indefinable, true to its editor’s word. It features a lot of writers and a lot of words, which make up some incredible stories. It’s comedic, imaginary, dramatic, and frightening. Moreover, it’s absolutely indefinable, which only makes it stronger.