Jan/Feb 2011

From the Editors

From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor

A few days ago, I received a copy of Norman Ball's new book, How Can We Make Your Power More Comfortable? (Del Sol Press). It was a happy moment, and not just because the book features a blurb from yours truly on the back cover. It's always gratifying to see Eclectica contributors getting their books published, even more so when I get a copy in the mail! Over the past 15 years, there have been quite a few such happy moments, and I look forward to what the next 15 will bring. Kudos to Norm, whose sharp rejoinders serve as an intelligent antidote to the mind-numbing onslaught of talk radio that I've foolishly subjected myself to over the last few months.

Norm isn't the only one with good news to share. Congratulations are also due to our Review Editor, Elizabeth Glixman, whose chapbook Cowboy Writes a Letter & Other Love Poems was recently released by Pudding House Publications. Anne Leigh Parrish just let me know that her collection of short stories, All The Roads That Lead From Home, will be published next year by Press 53. And the ever prolific D. Harlan Wilson has two new books out: a collection of short fiction, They Had Goat Heads, and a literary science fiction novel called Codename Prague, the second installment in his scikungfi trilogy.

Turning to the matter at hand, this issue features Spotlight Author Alfredo Franco's haunting portrait of a boy and his father—the boy coming of age jarringly, the father falling from grace equally so. It's a great story, and I predict it will stand out as one of Eclectica's best, this or any year.

Speaking of fiction, William Han is back with two stories that manage to be unlike anything else I've ever published, including each other, and yet they are also strongly identifiable as "William Han" stories. This is the mark of a writer who has found his voice, but in Han's case, the voice is that of a ventriloquist who can effortlessly inhabit a Chinese man during the Japanese siege of Hong Kong, a present-day Comics fanboy's best friend, and I suspect, just about anybody in between.

To find the other voices in this issue's Fiction section, Julie King, my lovely wife and former co-editor, was kind enough to help me whittle the submissions down to Franco, Han, and the five other authors who survived what was a particularly brutal cut. Julie has an unerring ear, eye, and soul for a good poem, a good movie, and a good story, and having her to bounce opinions off made reading several hundred stories a lot more enjoyable. For our labors, we were rewarded with Michael Zimecki's historical novella about Joseph Stalin's last days; the return of Caroline Kepnes, who is making her sixth appearance in Eclectica; a quintessential "Julie" story called "The Bad Man" by Michael Peck; not to be confused with the story "Peck" by Z.Z. Boone; and the vivid window into Nigerian life that is Edozie Uka's "The New Girl Making Calls."

Poetry editor Jennifer Finstrom has brought us another fine selection of poetry, including the robust return of the Word Poem challenge. For the un-initiated, the Word Poem challenge consists of four pre-selected words. Anyone who so desires is invited to write a poem incorporating those four words. The resulting works always rival their "legitimate" cousins in the regular poetry section, and it's an opportunity for Eclectica editors to contribute without turning the Magazine into a vanity publication. Being that she was a long-time contributor and former Spotlight Author before she took over as our editor, I'm glad Jennifer can add to the magnificent volume of work she has published with us. Her poem in this issue, a subtle exploration of grief, is a proud addition indeed.

In the Travel section we have several pieces that, as the best pieces often do, blur the lines between travel and nonfiction. Scott Cohen, Piers Michael Smith, Loren Stephens, and our Venezuelan tour guide, William Reese Hamilton, all provide journeys in both best senses of the word.

The Kesslers, Jascha and Julia Braun, have returned with another pair of singular nonfiction pieces. Last issue's co-Spotlight authors, Jascha—a literature professor at UCLA—pulls out the academic stops in his treatise on the play King Oedipus, while wife Julia adds to the series of memoirs that have been appearing in Eclectica since January of 2007. They join Barbara Greenbaum, William H. Libaw, and Peter Bingham-Pankratz, ensuring that this issue is as well-rounded as it can be.

Rounding out the issue even more are interviews by Catherine Treadgold and former contributor Kimberly Becker, and our core group of reviewers, Gilbert Purdy, Ann Skea, and Review editor Colleen Mondor. These folks have really stood the test of time, and they've never even asked for a raise. Not unlike Salon contributors Stanley Jenkins and Thomas J. Hubschman, who have been associated with the magazine almost as long as I have.

It's a solid issue, one I'm proud to present, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Tom Dooley