From Tom Dooley, Fiction and Managing Editor
It's hard to believe this will mark a dozen years that Eclectica has been online. Like I do after every issue, I allow myself to question why I choose to spend so much time keeping this publication going. As has always been the case, I remember that it's because Eclectica is the only "living entity" that I've ever had a hand in creating, and in that sense, it's kind of like a child to me. Or maybe each issue is like a child, and all of them together make up this huge, extended, possibly dysfunctional family. A family that includes all the authors and characters and editors, many virtual, most of which might as well be virtual because I've only known them through the magic of cyberspace. I'm reminded of Charles Yu's story, "Florence," from the Jul/Aug 2005 issue: "Four years go by. Twenty thousand years go by... A message comes through from the boss." Indeed, the years go by, and the emails and submissions come and go from my inbox, but unlike the protagonist of Charles' story, I feel more enriched than isolated. I constantly get to "meet" new people, "go" new places, "experience" things I'd never experience otherwise, with the photos by Steve Wing that adorn this issue being prime examples.
Charles Yu, incidentally, provided one of the more exciting experiences of the year by inviting me to the National Book Foundation's "Five under Thirty-Five" celebration in Manhattan. He was named one of the five most up and coming fiction writers under the age of thirty-five by that organization. I was able to snag a discount flight, and long-time fiction and Salon contributor Stanley Jenkins was kind enough to put me up at his place in Queens, and we got to rub elbows with some literati. Sadly, Charles didn't make the event, apparently tied up in a legal case at his day job at a law firm, and so he remains a "virtual" member of the family for me, for now. The reading from his short story collection, Third Class Superhero, carried off by his agent in his absence, was a big hit at the event, and one of my friends at work just reported reading the book and loving it. I hope there'll be another one out from Charles soon, and that 2008 will see many of his fellow former Eclectica contributors enjoying more success in the publishing world.
Certainly, 2007 was kind to Eclectica contributors, starting with another strong showing at the Million Writers Award and A. Ray Norsworthy's runner up finish for Online Story of the Year. Ray is back in this issue with a very different tale, along with Anna Sidak and Caroline Kepnes, who also made last year's Notable list. Ray also just saw his novel, True Revelations: A Love Story of the Apocalypse, named a semi-finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Other authors receiving recognition in 2007 included Stanley Jenkins, whose nonfiction essay, "George," was picked up for The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume 2 (due out from Norton, July, 2008); Jane Halpert, whose poem, "Found Art," was one of 20 poems selected to appear in the second annual Sundress Best of the Net anthology; and Kris Broughton, whose short story, "The Black Folks Guide to Survival," will appear in Dzanc Books' first The Best of the Web anthology. May Kris and many of our other 2007 fiction authors also be recognized by the next Million Writers Award. Speaking of MWA, it will be starting up soon, and I hope those of you who are reading this will get involved in nominating and spreading the word about the award and your favorite stories. Let's keep raising all boats by highlighting good writing on the web.
If you've been reading the magazine for long and you skim down the table of contents for this issue, you'll see many familiar names. I'm glad to see that Arlene Ang hasn't lost any steam with her fourteenth appearance in Eclectica (more than that if you count that she often appears in both the Poetry and Word Poem sections, as she does this issue). Not to be outdone, Barbara De Franceschi is back for her seventeenth appearance, and she also has poems in both sections. Alex Keegan, whose Boot Camp writers raised more money for needy children with their third annual flash fiction marathon, is back for his eleventh appearance. Not quite in double digits, but showing a great deal of staying power, are folks like Bob Bradshaw and former Spotlight Authors Ray Templeton, William Reese Hamilton, and Ian Duncan Smith. In keeping with the family metaphor, it means a lot to me that so many of our authors (and in the case of Stephen Healey's Reverend Jeremiah Posh, characters) keep coming back and supporting us over the years.
Speaking of Spotlight Authors, former and present, Carolyn Steele Agosta has the distinction this issue of being both—the first time that's happened since 1999! She shares the spotlight with David Bulley, with whom she created a series of six interrelated short stories stemming from a freak ice storm. They wrote the stories in a workshop together as an exercise in one-upmanship, each trying to pick up where the other had left off and "top" the previous story in some way.
Thomas Hubschman is keeping the Salon alive, and I've managed to join him this issue with a trio of essays that aren't really meant to go together, but in some ways do represent a progression—certainly from scattered and wordy in the first to what is for me darned concise in the third. Meanwhile, Greg Schreur lived through what might become more commonplace in our ever more polarized climate—the government shutdown due to political deadlock in Michigan—and the result is our only Humor piece. A big high five to Amy George in the Miscellany section for providing the intellectualized answer for why Borat is not just really funny, but also really worth watching. And a big, big thanks to all the other reviewers, interviewers, interviewees, travel writers, fiction and nonfiction writers, poets, and editors who've helped to make this issue a reality.
In the author update department, Patrick Carrington wrote to say that his new chapbook, Hard Blessings, is now available from Main Street Rag, and Annette Marie Hyder has a new book, The Real Reason the Queen Hated Snow (a collection of short stories and poetry) available from Twilight Times Books. Better late than never, I'd also like to mention that Kevin Frazier saw his first novel, Nicole, published by Avain last year.
Well, I started this note by saying that Eclectica is like a child to me. I'm excited to report that by this time next year, there may be some competition in that department, as Julie and I have begun the process of adopting. Will the joys and demands of parenting force me to cut back on my editing time or find a replacement for myself? Or will I soon have the kids trained in HTML and working for their allowances? Time will tell. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy this issue, and I look forward to doing what I can to make 2008 our best year yet.