Oct/Nov 2008

From the Editors

From Tom Dooley, Editor

It was, as always, a pleasure and a challenge to put together another issue—the last of year number twelve. I'm grateful for the help I continue to get from a dedicated and talented staff, which includes Review Editor Colleen Mondor, Copy Editor Pamela Mackey, Interview Editor Elizabeth P. Glixman, Poetry Editor Jennifer Finstrom, and honorary stealth Travel Editor William Reese Hamilton (who gives occasional advice and a much-appreciated hand in recruiting the fine contributors we've been able to feature). This issue, I was also fortunate to have help from Fiction Co-Editor Tamara M. Brenno-Uribarri, who provided some sharp observations and a perspective I felt was both challenging and complimentary to my own. In choosing the fiction for this issue, we found ourselves differing in opinion quite a bit at the outset but able to easily come to a consensus in the end—a dynamic I imagine our nation's politicians would find enviable.

We have a poet in the Spotlight this issue. She's Susan Slaviero, and with a cohesive triptych of poems, she appears to have set out to redefine femininity with imagery seldom employed for that purpose. Words like "solenoid" and "fiberglass" lend these poems a chunky and masculine feel, while words like "thaumaturgic" and "halotrope" make them feel, well, chunky and masculine, but in an entirely different way. The end result, because the focus of these poems is all woman, is that masculine connotations are turned on their heads. After all, who's to say that "braided filaments" and "tight welds" and "phantasmagoria" can't evoke femaleness just as much as maleness? Throw in Ms. Slaviero's talent for a closing her poems with lines that, for all the closure they bring, simultaneously evoke a whole 'nuther poem worth of unspoken ideas, and the results are Spotlight worthy indeed.

In the Salon Thomas J. Hubschman does a fantastic job with his essay of prodding at the conventional wisdom of race in America. I'd never really thought about it before, but the possibility that Julie and I might be more closely genetically related to the children we're adopting from Haiti than we are to each other is kind of magical.

There are some real jewels to be found throughout the issue, from seven flashes by Alex Keegan's Boot Camp writers in the Fiction section to some extremely engaging and informative stuff in Reviews and Interviews, and plenty in between. I was a little floored by the work Colleen turned in with her own reviews this issue, particularly in the massive, comprehensive piece she has titled "The Politics of 21st Century Life." That she has found the time to read all of these books, let alone provide such a thorough and thoughtful discussion of them, is somewhat mind-boggling. And as I've said before, now that I'm facing the prospect of raising my own children, the value of what Colleen does is even more apparent to me as a reader.

In the author news department, a new collection titled One World: A Global Anthology of Short Stories will be coming out in May of 2009. The book's cover art is by former Spotlight Artist Victor Ehikhamenor and the book features work by Vanessa Gebbie, who makes her third appearance in Eclectica with this issue, and former contributors Molara Wood, Ravi Mangla, Shabnam Nadiya and Chika Unigwe. Chika by the way also recently signed a book deal with Random House, so we await the publishing of her novel with great anticipation. Meanwhile, Liliana V. Blum has seen her collection of short stories, The Curse of Eve and Other Stories, hit the bookshelves. They're translated by Toshiya Kamei, and I hope you'll look Eve up on Amazon. And a few weeks ago, we watched the episode of Secret Life of the American Teenager written by Caroline Kepnes air on the ABC Family Channel. Bravo to Victor, Vanessa, Molara, Ravi, Shabnam, Chika, Liliana, Toshiya, Caroline, and to all the Eclectica folks out there who are seeing their work published and praised. May they continue to enjoy much success.

As always, there's lots more to read in this issue and too much to adequately discuss here. I hope you like what you find, and I hope you'll join our Facebook group. You won't be barraged with emails, I promise, but you will be able to check in, get the latest Eclectica news, leave a comment, or start a discussion thread.

For those who have been following our Haitian adoption and sending messages of encouragement and concern, we appreciate it very much. The children are in fine health, having weathered the hurricane season and the move from Port-au-Prince to Les Cayes. The new orphanage looks like a big improvement over the old one, and we can't wait to visit in December and spend some time there. Below are a couple recent pictures of Lise and Evans, taken by an amateur photographer who volunteered to spend a few months living and working at the orphanage. It's certainly not easy having all these months go by, knowing the kids are growing up without us, but pictures like these help.


Port-au-Prince, May '08Port-au-Prince, May '08