The Lifted Brow, Issue 22
Editor: Sam Cooney
Issue 22 of The Lifted Brow contains about 92,000 words of fiction, nonfiction, interviews and reviews—enough to keep you entertained for quite a few days.
Though the editors argue this issue doesn’t have an overarching theme, I kindly beg to disagree. There a few consistent ideas lurking in these pages, and they make the mag a cohesive and beautiful whole that urges you to reflect on politics, mental illness, religion, and women’s issues.
But let’s start from the top, as there is no way one can skip a text titled 'Bare Necessity'.
Koren Helbig’s personal essay is an account of the first — and last — time she got naked and posed for a photographer whose obsession with hats and props is reminiscent of Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Remember Sabina and the bowler hat? Well, here we have a woman with wings, a man with a hat and some very kitschy scenes.
Helbig manages to convey the freedom and power one may feel when parading around naked in front of a camera as well as the power play that arises after it; and, besides being a great read, this sets the tone for other pieces in this issue of TLB – stories in which characters and authors face difficult situations that lead them to find either relief or moments of sudden and great revelation.
In Pete Nicholson’s investigative essay 'In the Belly of Jehovah', men and women alike experience epiphanies: either at the core of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, or in the outside world, once they leave the group forever.
Nicholson follows the journey of two men who found salvation by joining the church and then again by leaving it, searching for meaning outside the place that once meant being at ease and that eventually became more like a prison. His narration also takes us to Tasmania, where young Jehova’s Witnesses are leaving the Kingdom for a more carefree existence; and to Melbourne, where a full-time preacher examines whether his current occupation means he is closer to God.
If you decide to read just one article from TLB 22, make it this one, then head online to read its companion piece. We promise you won’t regret it...and can someone please give Nicholson an award for investigative journalism?
In 'A Hazara in Bondi', Drew Rooke tells the story of a young Hazara named Hadi who now lives in Sydney. The Hazara are a Persian lingual ethnic group that has been persecuted in Iran since the 19th century. Hadi was born a Hazara, a refugee in his own country, but has found a home in Australia. He is currently teaching and studying to become an accountant. In a time in which refugees’ rights are a crucial and divisive, this essay could be an eye-opener for those who still can’t fully grasp that refugees are making Australia even better.
Rebecca Jessen’s essay 'Salt' takes us to the psychiatric ward where she spent a few weeks being treated for depression. All treating doctors seem to be a bit aloof, but she manages to get by and reminds us that depression is not just the stuff of melodramas, but a reality that needs to be addressed openly because anyone can suffer from it—and because it can strike when one least expects it. The piece also reminds us that depression can be treated and that life continues and one can be prolific despite the disease.
If Jessen is courageously open about depression, Rosanna Stevens is even more outspoken about one of those bodily issues most women refuse to talk about and some men can’t even bring themselves to mention: menstruation. 'The Right Kind of Blood' is an investigative essay that tries to explain why women still find it so hard to be open about their periods and why the theme has been pushed to the back pages of magazines and the dark corners of the internet. This is gutsy, refreshing and honest, and hopefully it will inspire other writers to talk about women’s issues without all the fluff that can surround discussions of menstruation and other topics, such as menopause and incontinence.
Although fiction is not as abundant in this edition you might expect, 'Knocking the Scabs Off' is interesting reading that will keep you entertained and will challenge you with its use of design, typography and broken narrative. Ellena Savage’s collection of email fragments is an interesting cross-genre experiment, halfway between nonfiction and fiction that proves to be a nice breather.
I would need another 900 words to delve into other wonderful pieces, from TLB’s new astronomy column to the always useful Middlebrow lift-out, providing handy advice for those of us who crave for a bit more culture in our lives. Hopefully this has been enough to pique your curiosity and make you invest $9 in some of the best writing you’ll read this month.
Submission for the June/July and August/September issues are now open. If you’ve got what it takes, check out TLB submissions page today. They publish both established and emerging writers...
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Gabriella Munoz is a freelance writer and editor who writes about books, science and lifestyle. You can follow her on Twitter @_gabmunoz.
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