Published 19 April 20101 May 2010 · Main Posts Review – Kill Your Darlings | Issue One Irma Gold Kill Your Darlings has a lot to live up to. In its inaugural issue its editor, Affirm Press’ Rebecca Starford, says the journal’s mission is to ‘reinvigorate and re-energise’ Australia’s literary scene. She quotes editor Rob Spillman as saying that most journals are ‘good for you, but they taste awful’. KYD intends to redress this – to shake up the medium and ‘publish literature that bites back’. A big, bold statement. First let me say that I love the title of this attractive new journal. It is an apt reference to the advice that writers are so often given. The bit you love the most is the bit that has to go. Editing your own work is a ruthless business, and cutting your ‘baby’ up can feel like murder. So, a perfect choice of title that is also edgy and attention grabbing, and therefore sure to help with marketing. Moreover the cover design is striking, the layout clean and readable, and the standard of editing (so often lacking these days) is high. In short, it’s a pleasure to curl up on the couch with. The journal opens with Gideon Haigh’s biting (yes, they’ve succeeded there) assessment of the current state of reviewing. I suspect some may view this essay as deliberately provocative, but he makes some valid points about what he describes as the generally ‘lacklustre’ fare on offer characterised by ‘its sheer dullness and inexpertise’. He attributes much of the problem to timid reviewers who fear future retribution when their own work comes up for review, but also to newspapers and magazines who pay poorly (if at all) for reviews and begrudge the space they occupy. The critique has already sparked debate, which can only be a good thing. On finishing reading it I of course turned straight to the review section at the back to see how KYD’s measured up. There are two brief reviews, which surely for their length alone would paradoxically be lambasted under Haigh’s criteria (he quotes George Orwell’s opinion that 1000 words should be the ‘bare minimum’ for any worthwhile review). Nevertheless snappy reviews do serve a purpose and it’s good to see them included here alongside two much longer reviews. Starford’s consideration of Mary Gaitskill’s Don’t Cry certainly falls within Orwell’s ballpark, and makes a serious attempt to examine this latest offering within the broader context of her body of work. And there’s a lengthy review of The Wire which Anthony Morris claims is ‘the best television drama series ever made’ (I’m not convinced). But back to the ‘commentary’ section. I found Tracy Crisp’s reflective story about the elusive nature of inspiration and the difficulty in trying to write and mother simultaneously compelling. How to be the kind of writer she wants to be and the kind of mother is a conundrum to which I can relate. Then there’s Clementine Ford’s wryly amusing article on internet dating, and Paul Mitchell’s moving and funny account of guiltily bonding with his tweenage daughter over shopping despite his anti-consumerist principles. It’s great to see an article by former Canberran Justin Heazlewood (aka The Bedroom Philosopher) featured. His commentary on the death of the album and his dad-like resistance to it makes for entertaining reading. The desire for musos to hold their own album in their hands (and not just on their iPod) is surely one to which many authors can relate (the desire for a beautiful object not just a file on an eReader). Ultimately, though, resistance will surely prove futile. The only disappointment was Georgia Gowing’s commentary on the derby phenomenon. As a regular roller derby-goer I wanted more. For me, it didn’t entirely capture the electric energy and drama of a derby match and, other than a few interesting sound bites from the girls themselves, it failed to offer any fresh insights. Perhaps delving into links to punk culture and third-wave feminism might have afforded it greater depth. The fiction section includes seven short stories of which Patrick Cullen’s is the standout. ‘Carver’s Unkempt Lawn’ imagines a meeting between four famous American writers in the home of Tess Gallagher and Raymond Carver, who is dying. The subtle elegance of this beautifully crafted story had me captivated. I also admired ‘Clinching’ by Emmett Stinson which throws us into the futile struggle of an emotionally disconnected couple – characters who leap boldly and vividly from the page. And then there’s Chris Womersley’s ‘Theories of Relativity’ which opens with an arresting first line and just gets better from there. It is an unsettling tale of a dysfunctional family seen through the eyes of its youngest child who doesn’t discover the shocking inner world of his family until his twenty-first year. Womersley reveals the story in layers, masterfully leading us towards the final brutal punch. I haven’t read his first novel, The Low Road, which won the 2008 Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction, but I’ll certainly be seeking it out now. I must confess that I was initially skeptical about whether KYD could live up to its own hype. Well, dear Reader, I was wrong to have doubted. Issue one is a damn fine read. I look forward to seeing what the next one brings. Irma Gold Irma Gold is an award-winning writer and editor. Her short fiction has been widely published in Australian journals and her debut collection of short fiction, Two Steps Forward, was released in September 2011 (Affirm Press). She is also the author of two children’s books and is currently working on her first novel. You can follow her on Facebook. More by Irma Gold › Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 8 September 202326 September 2023 · Main Posts Announcing the 2023 Judith Wright Poetry Prize ($9000) Editorial Team Established in 2007 and supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, the Overland Judith Wright Poetry Prize for New and Emerging Poets seeks poetry by writers who have published no more than one collection of poems under their own name (that is writers who’ve had zero collections published, or one solo collection published). It remains one of the richest prizes for emerging poets, and is open to poets anywhere in the world. In 2023, the major prize is $6000, with a second prize of $2000 and a third prize of $1000. All three winners will be published in Overland. First published in Overland Issue 228 8 September 202315 September 2023 · Main Posts Announcing the 2023 Neilma Sidney Short Story Prize ($6500) Editorial Team Supported by the Malcolm Robertson Foundation, and named after the late Neilma Gantner, this prize seeks excellent short fiction of up to 3000 words themed around the notion of ‘travel’; imaginative, creative and literary interpretations are strongly encouraged. This competition is open to all writers, nationally and internationally, at any stage of their writing career.