New quarterly, DoubleTake, is a stunning discovery


April 28, 1996|By Vicki Hengen | Vicki Hengen,BOSTON GLOBE

A colleague recently passed along the spring issue of the journal DoubleTake, and I'm delighted that he did. Published by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, it's a thick arts quarterly -- and a genuine find.

It can't be very old (this is Volume 2, No. 2), but it boasts an impressive roster of talent: There's poetry by Tess Gallagher, Donald Hall, Philip Levine and Seamus Heaney; it has fiction by Joyce Carol Oates; and one of the editors is Harvard educator and author Robert Coles.

Photographer Nicholas Nixon and his wife, writer Bebe Nixon, have compiled a photo essay, "Room 306," documenting a year in the life of one classroom (their son, Sam's) at the Tobin School in Cambridge, Mass. Text and photos reflect a group of fifth graders who are eager, idealistic, realistic and imperfect.

Says one: "When I was younger, I wanted to be the president. But now I realize I'm not into politics. A couple of years ago, one of my friends did a survey of little kids, of what they wanted to be, and one little girl wanted to be a princess. And she's gonna grow up and figure out that she can't, and she's going to figure out something that is for her."

There's also a bone-chilling essay by (Catholic) novelist Mary Gordon, about her search for her father's (Jewish) family history. "Tracking My Father in the Archives" is a thoughtful, sorrowful, harrowing account of discovering a self literally missing a history.

Gordon learns that her father, who died when she was 7, lied to his family about almost everything: his date of birth, his place of origin (Russia, not Ohio), his religious heritage (Jewish, not Catholic), and the fact that he'd been married before, that he had living relatives, that he hadn't gone to Harvard, or to school at all.

Gordon writes: "I have to understand that everything I thought about my father might be false. That I don't even know which were his lies and which my inventions. And these ideas were the things I based my life on."

To make everything yet more horrible, Gordon discovers her father was an anti-Semite who abandoned his mother and his sisters -- an overall despicable man, from whom children ran to hide. Ultimately, Gordon writes, she must come to grips with "the falseness of the myth of continuity." It's a stunning piece of writing.

For subscription inquiries, call (800) 964-8301.

Format changes

Moving on to admittedly smaller disappointments, CD Review, in Peterborough, N.H., is changing its format. An intelligent, eclectic mix, it has typically covered all kinds of music, from Sunny Ade to the Smithereens to Sam Cooke to Schumann. Its new incarnation will be as a "lifestyle and classical" mag, with a few pages of jazz reviews, which leaves out the bands and fans who had hoped to read about all the other stuff in the world.

Pub Date: 4/28/96

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