by Willard Manus
four decades Richard Peabody--and various collaborators--have been publishing
one of America's finest literary magazines, GARGOYLE. Now Peabody and
his Paycock Press imprint have just released the 71st edition of the magazine,
which contains 454 pages of short fiction, poetry, non-fiction and art,
all of the highest order.
At one time GARGOYLE was published on a quarterly basis; now it comes
out annually, but its mission remains the same: "to print works by
unknown poets and fiction writers, as well as seeking out the overlooked
or rejected works." Both local and international authors are welcomed,
whether they "have a name" or not. Over the years numerous contributors
have won Pulitzer, MacArthur Fellowship and National Book Awards. In 1999
the magazine was awarded a $7,500 grant by the London Arts Board.
On the cover of GARGOYLE 71 is a photograph of Pamela Moore, a fifties
novelist whose work is highlighted in the issue. Peabody describes Moore
as "a talented young writer...who wasn't nourished by the right people
in her era's publishing world. And that seems a real pity. Pamela Moore
had talent to burn. If anybody had stepped in and edited her excesses,
helped her escape her Stockholm Syndrome devotion to her Svengali husband,
perhaps things would have turned out differently."
GARGOYLE 71 offers generous excerpts from three of Moore's novels, "Diana,"
"The Horsey Set" and "Prophets Without Honor." The
latter has not been published in any form. As the excerpts show, Moore
was a remarkable writer: honest, candid in matters of sex and gender,
irreverent and bawdy. As Peabody notes, "comparisons to J.D. Salinger
and Sagan are frequent, but her young teen protagonists are closer in
age to Nabokov's "Lolita." It's not difficult "to read
Moore now as a pre-Brat Pack novelist with a foot in the trashy romance
"Peyton Place" tradition. As if Jay McInery, Bret Easton Ellis,
Mary Gaitskill and Tama Janowicz wrote a group novel."
Moore gave birth to a son in 1963, and nine months later "committed
suicide by .22 rifle at age twenty six. Her baby was asleep in the next
GARGOYLE 71 pays tribute to Moore's remarkable but brief and tragically
Also in the anthology can be found excellent work by such writers as Jody
Lannen Brady, Gerri Brightwell and Daniel Coshnear. Let's not forget poets
like Paula Yip, Maya Sonenberg and Jordan Perez, either.
The story that moved me most was "Extraordinary Rendition" by
Gabriel Don, an inside account of a Pakistani couple's battle against
the forces of reaction: the Pakistani police (and government), corrupt
Egyptian officials, America's CIA, military and FBI. Arrested on trumped-up
charges, the couple was sent to separate prisons, denied basic human rights,
and tortured unmercifully (especially at Guantanamo Bay).
This brave, shocking story should be widely circulated in the USA, alerting
the nation to the horrors being perpetrated in the name of the war against
Michael J. Galko's brief but powerful poem "The Protective Eye"
encapsulates that message in eleven lines:
"How does the torturer
see the drain on the floor?
In short, he does not-
unless it is solely for function-
where the blood goes, the piss,
the fingernails, the burnt
hair. But in truth the
drain is the devil's eye-
and he waits down there,
sharpening his tools,