Book review: Intrepid Travelers: Lowestoft Chronicle’s 2013 Anthology Edited by Nicholas Litchfield
So why would an American online literary magazine give itself the rather unlikely, quintessentially English title, the Lowestoft Chronicle?
The answer lies in the travel history of its founding editor, Nicholas Litchfield, a librarian who lives in Western New York but who spent several years in East Anglia and fell in love with the Suffolk seaside town’s solitude and ‘softest sand.’
Lowestoft’s only omission, he discovered, was its historic lack of notable writers or periodicals... and thus, in 2009, the Lowestoft Chronicle (www.lowestoftchronicle.com) was born, providing the UK’s most easterly point with its first literary magazine.
In its quarterly editions, this lively, creative and often provocative magazine publishes an eclectic collection of flash fiction (brief stories whittled down to their essence), short stories, poetry and creative non-fiction with the emphasis firmly on humour and travel.
Litchfield’s mission is to form a global ‘think tank’ of inquisitive, worldly scribblers, collectively striving towards excellence and rewarded with an anthology of their best work published annually as a paperback book.
And this year’s anthology, Intrepid Travelers, is an exhilarating, uplifting and offbeat journey to the world’s most exciting and exotic locations; a paean to life’s adventurers, those plucky, inspirational souls who travel to enjoy rather than to arrive.
Undoubtedly the biggest and best anthology so far, the 2013 book is thick and ‘substantial enough,’ the more daring among us are assured, ‘to fill those dull moments on a whale spotting jaunt.’
From frank and fascinating interviews with legendary Western writer James Reasoner, foremost David Dodge biographer Randal S. Brandt, and the funny, fearless travel author Franz Wisner, to poetic musings on piano playing, an Ice Age grotto and those terrifying moments of plane take-off, Intrepid Travelers is a coruscating cornucopia of humour, drama and big, beautiful adventures.
In Robert Mangeot’s La Upsell, a man’s tour of the river Seine on a famous Parisian ‘bateau mouche’ becomes a battle of wills as a relentless salesman’s magnificent upgrade ends in high farce, and Tamara Kaye Sellman’s Cracked Windshield transports us to the vast freeway from Seattle to San Diego where a woman driver ponders the choice between life lived on an ‘unpredictable knife edge’ and the domestic confines of ‘suburban tyranny.’
And from the state highway, we take a definite left-field turn into Steve Gronert Ellerhoff’s brilliantly quirky short story, Apophallation, to witness two love rival ‘slugatorium’ research scientists who are slugging it out over a glamorous female chemist and almost being upstaged by a nine-inch banana slug!
Or how about taking a flight to Colombia’s capital Bogotá where student Andy from Wisconsin is preparing to meet his new fiancée Catalina’s parents and must remember that social conditions in Colombia, politics, religion, ‘living in sin’ and his own brand of humour are most definitely off limits...
And you can sneak into the office of a certain Mr Dano Somperton, aka the ‘Sultan of Spraysee’ and boss of a company that manufactures an odourless spray for VDU screens, as he launches into a bizarre, off-the-wall job interview in Brian Conlon’s quirky short story, You And I Have Something in Common.
David Klein hits new heights in The Final Ascent, featuring a playboy adventurer attempting to conquer Everest and the woman he loves, a brave young boy uses an age-old weapon in an attempt to save his family from the deadly Evil Bird, Peru’s legendary black-feathered predator, in Michael C. Keith’s unexpectedly moving Pájaro Diablo, and prepare for an adrenalin surge as a thief tries to escape from armed Mafia agents in Hector S. Koburn’s fatalistic Bloody Driving Gloves.
Featuring the very best prose and poetry from the Lowestoft Chronicle, and with a story, a feature or a rhyme to enchant travellers young and old, new and seasoned, Intrepid Travelers offers a highly original and entertaining virtual trip to the strangest corners of the world... and the human mind. Don’t miss it!
Intrepid Travelers is available to buy from all the major online booksellers, including Amazon.co.uk, as well as Barnes & Noble, and the magazine’s own website at www.lowestoftchronicle.com.
(Lowestoft Chronicle Press, paperback, £10.95)