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#22, Spring 1993

PO Box 1446
New York NY, 10023

200 pp., $7.50

This is a special issue devoted to childhood sexual abuse, and though any issue of CENTRAL PARK will jolt you out of any complacency you might be suffering from, this one is unsparing in its direct confrontation of the horror inflicted on children by the adults who are responsible for their care. After reading through it you come to the awareness that abuse of the very means by which our species reproduces affects the individual in ways he or she will never fully comprehend because so much of the foundation of reality has been distorted. As you read, piece after piece rips into you, forcing you face down into the vomit of violations, emotional tyranny, and the tearing of flesh as a father, mother, babysitter, etc. unwinds the soul of a child from its moorings for a moment of perfect consumer gratification. And we are reminded that these monsters are most times well respected members of society, hiding, even from themselves, the agony that originates in that moment. If you give a damn you should read/see this. But gather your courage, you will be forced to confront inexhaustible pain.--Jake Berry

This is a thematic "Childhood Sexual Abuse" special issue, edited by Eve Ensler and Stacey Schrader, featuring a wide-ranging and direct selection of poetry, fiction, graphics and essays. As an incest survivor myself, I approach this one with strongly mixed emotions: relief and elation to know that I am not alone, that my experiences are not unique; trepidation and fear at the prospect of reliving all the pain & anger once more. Both of these forebodings are justified. Reading these, I am again allied with & supported by my fellow survivors; simultaneous my personal inner demons are again summoned: the self-deprication, self-blame, self-sabotage. Certainly, the writing is powerful, and (more importantly) rings true. And, certainly, since silence is central to the crime of childhood sexual abuse, a strong speaking-out such as this does material damage to the perpetrators and to the societal systems that allow it. But beyond these considerations, larger issues emerge: is this work merely cathartic, an important therapeutic exercise for the writer that ought rightfully remain private? Worse, does the sensationalism and political currency of the topic count for too much, letting writers get away with less craft & skill? I can't pretend to be qualified to answer these questions objectively. I can only recommend this issue of CENTRAL PARK, unequivocally, as an place to examine the evidence and decide for ones self.--luigi

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This review originally appeared in TapRoot Reviews #3,
Copyright Burning Press 1993, 1995.

Contact the editor, luigi-bob drake, at Burning Press