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Shimmer, E. Catherine Tobler (editor), July 2016

Questions of identity take center stage in this issue of Shimmer. Nicasio Andres Reed’s “Painted Grassy Mire” uses a similar concept to the selkie stories that have enjoyed a recent surge of popularity, but distinguishes itself by making use of a very unconventional creature. The main character’s quest to discover who (and what) she truly is mirrors the immigrant community in which she lives, full of men who have built a new life for themselves but still remember their former home.

K.L. Morris’s “The Wombly” was my favorite story in the issue—it drew me into the world it built and made me want to know more about how things came to be the way they are. Both here and in Avi Naftali’s “glam-grandma,” the idea of transformation is vital. The characters in these stories become something other than what they were at the beginning, and these changes affect their relationships with the people around them. In both cases, the reader is prompted to contemplate what happens to those left behind in the wake of such a transformation.

The final piece, Natalia Theodoridou’s “The Singing Soldier,” addresses the theme of identity on a larger scale. Here, it’s not the identity of a person we must question, but the identity of a land itself. Can a place truly be said to have an identity of its own, or is it always determined by the people who live there? What happens when a piece of land changes hands—peacefully or otherwise? How intertwined can a person’s sense of self become with the place they live in?

Editor E. Catherine Tobler has skillfully chosen four stories that, while very different in style, are bound together by a common theme. Each of these pieces is well worth reading on its own, but placed side-by-side, they form a coherent and intriguing whole.

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