Where has Noon been my whole life? Noon, the famous time of day for lunch—for naps—for breaks; is apparently also a shrink-wrapped literary journal. At $12, it was a compulsive buy, one pointing in the direction of “wasted” income. You know what I mean… some people buy cigarettes or joints, I blindly buy coffee and random books; the outcome is the same (no money), but “waste” is the American way, and it’s how I get by.
Enough about that tangent… at $12, I didn’t know what to expect; all I knew about Noon was its appealing tan and blue abstract cover. And because we all judge books by their covers (admit it, you do too), I bought it. And in this case, I’m glad I did. This literary annual will be one that l willingly “waste” my money on from year to year until its cycle ends.
It’s not that the 2016 volume of Noon contained literary works that blew my mind or shook my world; no, it’s much more simple than that. Not everything has to bring you to your knees or make you ponder philosophical questions. Not every story worth reading has to evoke large emotion or ponder heavy questions. In fact, sometimes the opposite is just as poignant. Literature can be birthed from some place small… in fact, it can remain something small…a turn of phrase…an unexplained symbol… a moment in time. Literature can be something as simple as a noon-time break; pedestrian really—nothing special, except that we live for those short moments where we get to sit down and breathe, nap, or gossip.
Like my lunch break during the work week, the works in Noon are short (sometimes frustratingly so). The stories do not have complicated plots or characters; in fact, let me sample one for you by Greg Mulcahy in its entirety:
What concession, Emily said, would Jaguar, spirit of the forest, make?
Averaging between a page and three, the majority of the stories in Noon are what most people would call awkwardly short; but their beauty and value is the fact that they offer something outside of the space or time needed to read them. These little bites of language offer nourishment and energy that can be digested and expended throughout the day.
We forget sometimes the purpose of eating. We eat food because our body needs energy. We get wrapped up in the search or desire for ambrosia when, really, chicken strips or a sandwich will do the job just fine. In the same way, we sometimes forget the purpose of written language.
It’s not that I’m saying the works in Noon are equivalent to cheap fast food. No, the stories here are much more spot on than a greasy burger or battered slice of hormone infused chicken breast. But at the same time, they aren’t works that would appear in Agni. Like a chicken strip, or rather, like the takeout “Spicy chicken fried with Szechuan peppercorns, and beef fried rice,” (10) in Michael Cuglietta’s story “The Feast of Jupiter,” the stories in Noon are accessible and satisfying; they are the perfect meal to digest while mourning the loss of your dog. The stories in Noon are perfect to digest while “Loud announcements [come] over the speakers providing updates about the many delays,” (95).
Highlights from the Noon Menu
|Kayla Blachley’s “Glamour”
Waiting for a plane to be de-iced
Pair with a bottle of Smart Water
|1 minute 21 seconds||160 calories|
|Susan Laier’s “Wedding Ring at Rest”
a woman stressing because she can’t find her wedding ring…stressing more because she doesn’t want it
perfect with a cup of coffee
|1 minute 16 seconds||240 calories|
|Susan Laier’s “The Lost Voice”
a cellphone that drowned in a toilet
pair with a bag of Cheetos
|1 minute 0 seconds||110 calories|
Fact is, everyone should read Noon; not in the same way one read books, but the way one reads life, one short moment at a time… with moments of greater time in between to absorb, digest, and reenergize.