through the Keyhole: part 3


creative non-fiction


by Rob Kaniuk

Murph caught the red-eye to Phoenix clutching a blue duffel bag stuffed with 25,000 dollars of drug money provided by my employer in California. I was supposed to be on my honeymoon but the 308 grams of hash I had been transporting had caused a problem. Murph’s duffel bag held a temporary solution to that problem…

The Early train




 by Stephen Mammele

It started with the girl in the window at the station. The Fritos on her hoagie. The grease on my ticket. It brought me some place dark. The train is slowly filling, and the woman seated to my left smiles at me through too many teeth. Her fragrance lands somewhere between musty meadow and wild game, Caribou Rut. She brandishes a soft pretzel from nowhere, asking me, if I hold mustard. Unsure which dimension I stepped into this morning, I simply say no without addressing the almanac of reasons why I don't hold mustard…

Rauschenberg at Play




by Naomi Falk

Here is an artist who has departed the recognizable ground of his artistic practice, searching the shoals and valleys of that which he has not tried and does not know. In the wake of abstract expressionism’s emotive intensity came Robert Rauschenberg’s reductive White Paintings. So reductive, in fact, that they brought—and still bring—into question how we define art…

The Progressive Politics of Early Horror Cinema: Gender, Female Empowerment, and Sexuality




by Brian Fanelli

In his seminal essay, “An Introduction to the Horror Film,” film theorist and horror critic Robin Wood praises the American horror films of the 1960s and 1970s, specifically The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Night of the Living Dead. Wood says, “Central to the effect and fascination of horror films is their fulfillment of our nightmare wish to smash the norms that oppress us and which our moral condition teaches us to revere.” In other words, horror films from that time period were groundbreaking, according to Wood, because of their nihilistic endings and the fact that the monsters often weren’t defeated…

H. H. Holmes’ Murder Trial




by Joseph Tyson III

Herman Webster Mudgett (a.k.a. Henry Howard Holmes) was a bigamist, swindler, and serial killer.  Various researchers have estimated his murders between nine and over one hundred. No one knows the actual death toll.  (I would guess between fifteen and thirty-five people.) He definitely killed mistresses Julia Conner, Emeline Cigrand, and Minnie Williams, Julia’s six year old daughter Pearl, and Minnie’s younger sister Nannie Williams, plus Benjamin F. Pitezel, his children Alice, Nellie, and Howard.  Among Holmes’ possible victims were Emily Van Tassel, Anna Betts, Sarah Cook, Mary Haracamp, businessman John DuBreuil, employees Mary Kelly, Jessie Brunswigger, Mary Stevenson, Harry Walker, and “Miss Wild,” as well as 1893 Columbian Exposition tourists to whom he rented rooms in The Castle:  Pansy Lee, Lucy Burbank, Jenny Thomson, and others…

A Selection of poetry



A selection of poetry by the SVJ’s finest writers: Jason Gordy Walker, Francine Witte, Douglas Collura, Judith Kronenfeld, and Laura C. Wendorff.

An unspoken love letter for Squirrel Hill



by Holly Minnich

I grew up in Squirrel Hill, I say, and you look down almost immediately. My mouth stays half-open, desperate to speak of how Saturday’s synagogue shooting felt and how it feels now. Pittsburgh is shaken up, I have decided to say next. I was there a couple hours after it happened, I will say. I was home for the weekend. Everything was too quiet. Squirrel Hill is usually full of life, but then it was so effing quiet. But you’ve broken the pause hurriedly to schedule next semester’s classes, so the words stay trapped within me…