'Idaho Review' Celebrates 20 Years 

Boise State's literature review brings in top-level submissions

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Bill Carman/Idaho Review

Idaho Review typically hits shelves at the Boise State University student bookstore and Rediscovered Books at the end of the year, which is why, when it was officially released on Jan. 22, the lauded literature review landed under most people's radar.

After a hangup at the printer in Michigan, "by the time they were ready to send it, our warehouse at Boise State had closed down for Christmas," said Mitch Wieland, professor of creative writing, co-founder of Boise State's MFA in creative writing and editor of the Review.

This year marks the 20th year of Idaho Review, and as in years past, it's full of some of the most illustrious fiction, poetry, interviews and, for the first time in its history, playwriting to be found anywhere. That's no idle boast: Three short works from its inaugural publication by Ann Beattie, Richard Bausch and Robert Olmstead were included in The Best American Short Stories in 1999, and the trend has been upward from there.

In the following years, 12 pieces from the Review have subsequently appeared in places like The Best American Short Stories, The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Pushcart Prize, New Stories from the South and Best of the West, and 28 more have been shortlisted for publication elsewhere. It has become a platform for students and masters of the literary craft alike.

"I used to tell [former Boise State President Bob] Kustra it was like winning the Fiesta Bowl 12 years in a row," Wieland said.

In this year's edition, readers will find short fiction by the likes of Joyce Carol Oates ("The Bloody Head") and Corinna Vallianatos ("Cuba"). They'll also find poetry by John Kinsella and a Wieland's interview of George Pelecanos, whose short fiction has appeared in places like Esquire and The Best American Mystery Stories, and whose screen credits include The Wire, The Deuce and The Pacific.

The volume is a trove of treasures, but maybe one of its most alluring gems is a two-act play, Wilde About Whitman by David Simpatico, about a now-famous encounter between one of America's greatest poets, Walt Whitman, and one of Britain's greatest wits, Oscar Wilde.

"I read that play and I thought it was just fantastic," Wieland said. "We've never done a play before, but our MFA program had just moved into a department with theater and film, and I kind of thought it would reflect our new department, that we're all storytellers and we work with the same narrative elements."


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