Tapestry artwork by Susan Klebanoff
From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
Sometimes, the Internet brings the world close, making neighbors of people half a planet away. Other times, it allows us to introduce our own neighbors to the world. In this issue we feature the work of Susan Klebanoff, a renowned tapestry artist who knows her way around a canvas as well, and who just happens to live a few blocks from me here in sunny, balloon-bedecked Albuquerque. I've seen Susan's work up close, along with the tremendous loom she operates, and I can assure there is a reason she has had dozens of installations in corporate headquarters, museums and galleries, hospitals, embassies... A few hundred dpi JPEG doesn't do them justice, but even at this size and resolution, her pieces are a brilliant accompaniment to the equally textured and colorful writing of this, the last issue of our 18th year.
Our Spotlight is on fiction writer Soma Mei Sheng Frazier. She, along with nonfiction author Robert Joe Stout and poet Patricia Johnson, are worthy recipients of both our admiration and the nominal prize money we've been able to scrape together for four issues in a row now. I'm proud to be featuring their work and happy we were able to recognize them for their excellence. That said, it was a game of inches, and the rest of the authors in this issue were right there, making the choice of whom to recognize a difficult one.
I'd like to offer a heartfelt thanks to our editors, who continue to do yeoman's work in putting together what is, for my money (well, okay, I don't have any money, but if I did, I would invest it in this statement), one of the elite literary publications on the web. I'm humbled I get the honor of putting it together every three months with the help of these editors and the aforementioned contributors.
Speaking of people who make Eclectica possible, in the "where are they now?" department, we have three former contributors with books out: Dolan Morgan, Mary Beth Caschetta, and Mathias B. Freese. Morgan's debut short story collection, That's When the Knives Come Down, came out in August, and Caschetta's "polished" (says Kirkus) debut novel Miracle Girls is available in paperback now and will be released in hardcover next month (November, 2014). Freese's short story collection, I Truly Lament—Working Through the Holocaust, was chosen as one of three Leapfrog Fiction Contest finalists.
If we're talking about books by former contributors, though, longtime contributor Caroline Kepnes is in a class by herself, and she is really going to town with her novel YOU. Described as her "modern, dark, smiling, sick, psychological thriller," this book is being vaunted by Publishers Weekly, Harpers Bazaar, Glamour, Elle, Booklist, USAToday... and I mean, people are freaking out about it. Go to the book's Simon and Schuster page and click on "Praise" if you don't believe me. It's kinda amazing, and we're super thrilled for Caroline and wish her mucho continued success.
And if that isn't enough big news, I'm also happy and proud to announce that our very own Fiction Editor Anne Leigh Parrish has a novel, What Is Found, What Is Lost, hitting bookshelves virtual and real this week. Her last book, a story collection called Our Love Could Light the World, was outstanding, so I can't wait to read this one.
Speaking of waiting to read, though, I don't want to keep anyone from seeing what Gil, Jennifer, Anne, and David have to say below, and then getting on with checking out this issue. It is, in my estimation, a doozie. I hope you'll agree.
From Gilbert S. Purdy, Review Editor
Many thanks, as always, to Ann Skea for her many fine reviews. Also to Maryann Corbett, who has kindly contributed a review for this issue—her second with Eclectica. We are pleased to think she might be sending us reviews for a long time to come.
As another beautiful autumn settles around us, I would like, yet again, to invite anyone who might read this to send along reviews of books, art, music, cultural organizations, companies and events—local, regional, national, and international—and cultural crit pieces on the same. Feel free to do so as a one-off or more or less regularly as works for you. I look forward to continue to expand the Review/Interview Section during the months ahead, to include a wide range of lively, insightful (even quirky) cultural crit. I hope you will stop by to read and/or submit.
From Jennifer Finstrom, Poetry Editor
Welcome to the fall issue, the fourth of 2014! I'm always so pleased to see a new issue join the impressive number in our archives, and lately, I've been spending a lot of time looking back through those years of wonderful writing. It seems that past contributors are accomplishing a lot these days, but more about that shortly. This issue has a poetry section that mingles new voices with familiar ones, not to mention what must be one of the largest Word Poem Special Features ever, with nine poems. A big thank you to everyone who submitted poetry for either section—it is one of my greatest pleasures to read your work.
Poet Patricia Johnson is a Spotlight Runner-up this issue, and her three poems contain a wealth of detail that brings the worlds she is creating to life. "Ascension Island," the shortest of the poems, takes the broadest view but is still set in a single moment as the speaker listens to a tape recording of an old radio show at breakfast, while the other poems, "Becky's Trilobite" and "On the North Shore," focus more narrowly, speaking to us through the lens of "the extinct arthropod" that "was not much different from the outline of a roach" in the first, and a Bachman's warbler, "[h]er breast equal to Audubon's / drawing," in the other. These poems are patient and filled with minutiae, inviting the reader to look at a chronology containing the fossilized remains of what was once living and a bird that may or may not be extinct.
I mentioned that past contributors have been accomplishing much, and there are two that I would like to mention here. One is Marc Frazier, whose poem "Forecast" appeared in the Jan/Feb issue of 2011. I was fortunate enough to meet Marc in real life at a couple of poetry events in Chicago where I live, and at one of them, he read several poems from his new chapbook After, which is available from Finishing Line Press. The poems in After will also appear in a full-length book, his second, in 2015 from Glass Lyre Press. Not only was it a great experience to hear Marc's work, but also it was wonderful to meet a contributor in person! I only wish it happened more often.
The other contributor whose accomplishments I've become aware of lately is Antonia Clark, who has many lovely poems in our archives (do please check them out!). Her first full-length book, Chameleon Moon, is available from David Robert Books, and I can't wait to read it! The title poem was, in fact, a Word Poem from the Oct/Nov issue of 2009. Hearing what our contributors are up to always makes me feel so happy and inspired! Congratulations to both Antonia and Marc!
From Anne Leigh Parrish, Fiction Editor
Fall can be an eerie mix of concealment, exposure, and shifting reality. What's there one day—branches afire with color—are gone the next. Boundaries blur under a heavy blanket of snow. Nights are long, spirits roam, and our imaginations take flight as we hunker down against the elements. It's a time to reflect and consider, to look inward and search for that one light which dispels the dark.
Andrea Cetra's "313" begins with the telling of a dream, flows seamlessly back in time, then ends with another dream based on a reality informed by grief. In "Crossing The Road" by David Karraker, a man loses his bearings when he becomes separated from his wife in a parking lot and soon we're left to wonder what else he hasn't been able to hold on to. Joe Pitkin's highly inventive "Better Than Google" is all about the loneliness one can feel is a failing relationship, while in "This Is How You Make A Movie," Joseph Han's protagonist, a film student, turns an imaginary camera on her own life. The young narrator of "North and South" by Kevin Louis McFadden escapes grief and forms a relationship with a woman who discovers that there are things she needs to move on from, too. The soul and spirit of commerce are whimsically explored in the two flash pieces contained in "Bartender Apocalypse #3" by Louis Wenzlow; and more somberly and in depth in Raul Palma's fine "American Leather." The young couple in "Compositional" by Katherine Forbes Riley have many strange adventures while traveling abroad. We have a moving contemplation of death and the briefness of human life in "Eggshells" by Connor Green, and a blunt, bold depiction of what it means to be a person of mixed race in Soma Mei Sheng Frazier's excellent "Maybe I Should Call This Fiction." Frazier, of course, we're proud to feature as this issue's Spotlight Author.
Get cozy folks, open that laptop, light up the screen, pull out your tablet, and read us from start to finish. It might just be a long winter!
From David Ewald, Nonfiction Editor
In selecting the pieces for this issue, I've learned more about what I look for as an editor: I seek connection. It's about people, the writer connecting to others, alive or dead, whether it's Roy White reflecting on his father's mistress in "When I Make My Road Trip Movie"; Coleen Kearon showing more interest in the life of the woman whose home she's paying to stay in than the lives of her parents about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary ("Airbnb"); Gregory Stephenson getting to know the housekeeper of a deceased woman famous for her literary salons in 1920s Paris ("Conversations with Berthe Cleyrergue, Housekeeper to the Legendary Amazon, Nathalie Clifford Barney"), or Lee Brozgol opening up a correspondence that lasts years and is cut tragically short ("Ropes: A Documentary Essay"). My nominee for this issue's Spotlight Author, and one of two Spotlight Runners-up, is Robert Joe Stout ("Onions and Firecrackers"), who connects with a narrative that for me echoes Twain, London, even Steinbeck.
Enjoy these selections. Think about those in your life who have passed through or have stayed, lingered. Write about them. Make it count.