blue-eyed boy bait – Spilt Milk Mag #1

-Reviewed by Caroline Crew

blue-eyed boy bait is actually the first issue of Spilt Milk Mag, an identity crisis explained by the editor, Sam Peczek, by way of a copyright issue with a ‘brothel in Sweden with the same name’ that didn’t appreciate the free advertising. Although this is a print issue, Spilt Milk is currently a digital magazine, but may venture back into book form. It is a beautiful form too. The little touches of illustration are one of the few things that actually make this lit mag stand out, and definitely the only feature that makes it stand out in a good way.

The kindest thing I could say about this collection of ‘short form’ writing is that it is youthful. By youthful, I mean juvenile. While I normally enjoy reading the author biographies in literary magazines (with a bittersweet nosiness at all these wonderful people doing things that I am not), I was careful to comb them to make sure of the contributors’ ages. Surely, this must be a journal for teen writing, I thought, but no. There are an awful lot of clichéd themes: cheesy sex scenes in the thankfully brief ‘Fresh’ by Alexandra Glacet, strippers and abortion featuring in some truly dire depictions of the human condition. The impression of adolescence is further enforced by the pretentiousness that runs throughout. Particularly cringe-worthy was Naomi Headland’s ‘The Acid Test’ mixing Latin, French and the Greek mythic figure Icarus in a poem which could be subtitled ‘Look how smart I am!’.

Formally, the magazine seems a little confused. There are some longer pieces which conform to more traditional narrative ideas of short fiction such as Rez Dillon’s ‘Second Wave Theory’, and these are more successful. The shorter prose pieces are far from the honed precision of flash fiction, instead becoming indulgent and directionless paragraphs of purple prose. At times this can produce some interesting images: I particularly liked the bizarre description of swallowing a butterfly named Phillip in A.J. Patrick Liszkiewicz’s ‘Butterflies’.  These pieces left me unsatisfied, as if I’d been offered a few grains of rice instead of a bowl of risotto.

Perhaps blue-eyed boy bait / Spilt Milk Mag will deliver more on a digital stage, where short attention spans and dubious quality is more at home. However, if it wants to succeed in print, I would strongly suggest upping the quality of submissions and maybe getting a few other eyes involved. A nice looking magazine, but if you want a great compilation of short form writing, spend your pennies on Shot Glass Journal instead.

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