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Another literary discovery

During a recent visit to Barnes and Noble, I raided the writing and lit magazine section and stumbled across the latest copy of the Mars Hill Review (MHR). MHR “reveals Christ within the various texts of our contemporary culture. We commission full-length essays from provocative thinkers, conduct in-depth studies of issues having theological import, and conduct interviews with leading-edge writers, teachers and artists. The journal also publishes original fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and critical reviews of film, books, music, and other texts that remind us of God and of his participation within the stories of our contemporary lives.”

I have already read a couple of the essays. There are several sections including essays, studies and “reminders of God” (the writing life) as well as ‘”views and reviews.” Included is an interesting review of the movie The Matrix.

The writing is strong. The Arc of Repentance by Helen W. Mallon begins:

It’s been a hot, dry summer of extended car trips. My husband, kids, and I have landed home for a few days between a vacation on Cape Cod and a visit to my in-laws in the mountains. We’re all grubby, tired, and in need of haircuts. I wade through the living room, feeling for floor space in the tumble of soft-sided luggage, sandy sneakers, and Ziploc bags stuffed with my daughter’s beach combings. The closed familiarity of our house feels weird, like a mirror image of the real house.

The use of sensory detail and the precise chosen items made this scene come to life and put me immediately into the story’s world.

The ideas are wide-ranging such as the short story Catherine and Pope Gregory XI that relates an imagined meeting between Catherine of Sienna and the Pope. “When I was a little girl, I made a prayer book” reads the opening line of The Prayer Book by Lucinda Franks and goes on to tell the story of Lucinda, the prayer book and the secret the little girl had written “on the back of the last page, at the very bottom.”

As you can tell, I’m delighted to have found this journal and thought I would share the discovery. If you’re remotely interested, check out their website: If you click on “extracts” you’ll find some of the writing available online to read.

As the editor said, “The idea of stories and their power is, we feel, a particularly fitting theme with which to initiate MHR’s new format. Our aim is to offer a wider selection of transcendent stories by increasing our offering of literary fiction and nonfiction.” Imagine that. In this day and age where many publishing opportunities are shrinking, MHR is actually increasing their offerings. Good news for writers who are interested and write the type of material MHR publishes.



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