-Reviewed by Joan Standwick-
The closure of Pen Pusher Magazine has come as a shock to me, and countless others. I have been carrying its back issues for a while now, pondering on the necessity of reviewing them – surely they are doing well enough on their own? Pen Pusher was that rare thing: beautiful, critically approved, whilst remaining accessible. Yet, their closure shows us that no literary magazine is safe, and it is more urgent than ever to support them.
It is in the spirit that I bring to you Nutshell #2. Nutshell is a perfectly packaged literary magazine, aware that it is part of a rare club. It states in its inside page: ‘Every issue is an achievement and the proof that literary magazines have an audience, and a loving one’.
A mixture of poetry, short stories and illustration, Nutshell’s style can be summarized as eclectic, impressive yet irreverent. The writing has a twisted sense of humour, whether it’s in the film-pastiche ‘Oyster Brats’ by Nikesh Shukla, the deadpan delivery of Paul McGrane’s poems, or the desperate madness of an Adam J Maynard. Nutshell is also capable of wild, raw, poetry, that holds a sensory knife to your throat, as is the case with Alexandra Lister in ‘To a Daughter of Roan Inish’:
‘Shelling crabs, you stand in your white
work dress – lovebirds in drawn thread pull
against your chest, the trails of burnt morning honey
set on thewarp and weft’
Refreshingly, Nutshell allows an average of two poems per person and a significant percentage of these, as well as the stories are given tailor-made illustrations. The informed and entertaining interviews of Don Paterson and Simonetta Agnello Hornby are one of the many highlights of this magazine’s issue.
Let us hope Nutshell is sticking around for a while longer, but don’t make the mistake of thinking it’ll survive without you. It won’t. So go and buy it now, it’s only £3.50 and worth every penny.