Literary magazine review: Gutter issue 9 (3 stars)

Literary magazine review: Gutter issue 9

The literary magazine has a high standard but lacks truly original new voices


Gutter’s clean cover design and minimalist layout reveals the disconnection between its intentions – the word ‘gutter’ conjuring a sense of Trainspotting grittiness – and what it actually delivers: proficient MLitt Creative Writing-type prose.

The literary standard is high, with interesting work from the established (Regi Claire), the emerging (Stephanie Brown), and the standout (Ewan C Forbes with ‘Granite’, a subtle meditation on male depression). However, overall it’s hard to distinguish one writer’s voice from another and the obligatory inclusion of a Fifty Shades-style short story is just grating. Many of the poems lack depth, and hold-your-breath pieces such as Nikki Magennis’ ‘At Polmont Prison’ are the exception when they should be standard.

Where is the emotional range, the romance, and where are the truly original new voices, indeed ‘the bleeding edge’ of Scottish writing? Sacrificing a blow-job gag or masturbation poem might bring Gutter closer to something less self-conscious, something more beautiful, just something more.

With younger, hipper journals like Valve pumping new blood into the scene, Gutter may need to try that wee bit harder.

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