Jul/Aug 2019

From the Editors

Multimedia artwork by Belinda Subraman

Multimedia artwork by Belinda Subraman

From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor

We are once again blessed to have our stark pages colorfully adorned, this time with the brilliant work of Belinda Subraman. A Facebook friend, Belinda's art started showing up in my news feed, and I had to ask her if she'd be a part of Eclectica in this way (she'd already contributed as a poet back in 2006). I'm super psyched she said yes.

I'm also psyched to present ten varied and accomplished pieces of fiction in this issue, plus a bonus short story in the Humor and Satire section. They are at turns moving, thought-provoking, and beautiful. As is often the case, we have an interesting mix of authors, to include veteran writers (of publishing, of our pages, and at least one of the Vietnam variety) and previously unpublished writers—some new to Eclectica, some new to writing altogether. It's an honor to be the first outlet to publish Stephanie A. Hunter, and it's equally gratifying to have nine other authors making their first appearances here. I hope to see everyone again in the coming years.

Welcome back to former Spotlight Author John Palcewski, who first joined the Eclectica family in 2000 and is now appearing in his ninth issue over the span of 19 years. A relative newcomer, Peter Bridges joined us in 2012, but he's also a former Spotlight Author, and he's now appearing in his lucky 13th issue. Peter is a former US Ambassador, and his experiences in foreign service inform both his fiction and nonfiction, this issue featuring an example of each.

I nominated Huntley Gibson Paton for Spotlight honors on the strength of "Unincorporated Road." I was reminded of something Melvin Sterne said about another story, Raul Palma's "American Leather," which was featured in our 20th Anniversary Best Fiction anthology:

I absolutely hated the characters. These are not my kind of people. They are the kind of city-bred neurotics I hold in (Buddhist-tempered) contempt. But I absolutely LOVE the story! It's freakin' perfect. How does Palma do that? Despite my not liking the characters, he exposes life—in all its unfairness—perfectly.

While the protagonist of "Road" is not an anti-hero along the lines of a Tony Soprano, he is definitely not someone I'd want to know personally. He is, though, fully realized, and as such, he succeeds in being the (tragic?) hero of this/his story. Paton's pulling that off is no easy author's task.

I'd like to say a couple words about our new Poetry Editor, Evan Richards, who continues to do a great job. He overcame a nasty bout of strep throat to get this issue put together. This is his second issue manning the poetry helm, and I'm looking forward to seeing where he takes things in the coming years.

Props to former contributor Douglas Cole, whose book of poetry Blue Island is out from Kelsay Books. Congrats also to Roxie Kirk, whose book The Red Dirt Hymnbook was recently published by Fine Dog Press. The book originated as a short story, "The Salvation of Ruby Fae McKeever," which appeared in the Jul/Aug 2015 issue.

Congratulations to Jason Arment, this issue's Spotlight Author for his nonfiction piece, "Flame and Fortune," and Mary McGuire, our other runner up for her poem "My Grandmother's Apartment." Thanks to David Ewald and Gilbert Wesley Purdy for their efforts as editors, and Thomas J. Hubschman for his continued contributions to the Salon.

I hope everyone reading this enjoys the issue and has a great summer.


From Gilbert Wesley Purdy, Review Editor

In this issue, PD Mallamo reviews The Current, a novel by Tim Johnston. Ann Skea reviews Mac's Problem by Enrique Vila-Matas. I review volumes scheduled for autumn release by Joseph Stroud and John Balaban.

As always, I would like 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 expanding 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 Evan Martin Richards, Poetry Editor

Summer is here (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, at least), and it's brought with it the usual crop of sun, storms, and heat—June, it's being reported, was the hottest month in recorded history. And so it seems to me to be the perfect time to take a summer vacation to all the fascinating places, physical and temporal, that this issue's poetry inhabit.

In this issue, Patrick T. Reardon and David Mathews show us the fleeting charm of nights spent at local watering holes. Yael Herzog and Spotlight Runner-Up Mary McGuire take us into the nostalgia-rife and oft-musty houses of fathers and grandmothers. Richard Weaver and Scudder Parker offer quiet looks at the natural world and its denizens. And what summer would be complete without a trip to the baseball diamond, provided here by Ken Gosse and Lisa McMonagle.

As you grill your favorite meat or vegetables, nurse sunburned shoulders, or wait for the A/C repair to arrive, I welcome you to spend some time with our amazing writers' latest works!


From David Ewald, Nonfiction, Miscellany, and Travel Editor

In Toronto in October, 2002, I purchased a used hardcover copy of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried. Seventeen years later I finally got around to reading it. The novel is great. As has been widely noted, it is about much more than war. It will give my students a lot to discuss.

In a similar vein: "Flame and Fortune," a story by Iraq War veteran and this issue's Spotlight Author Jason Arment. "Flame and Fortune" too is about much more than war. It strikes me as a story of recruitment even more than a story of war. I plan for my students to read it in addition to O'Brien's work. They know of recruitment, just as they know of war. The Fortnite dances can't be ignored. And when was the last time anyone used the term "virtual reality"? Now it's just reality.

Arment is in fine company. With humor and compassion, Ben Adams ("A Radical Liberalism") not only divulges to us that he was a Nazi at the tender age of six but argues that there is a way forward for progressives (otherwise known, in conservative circles especially, as "liberals"): a way to speak, think, act and exist in this bravado new world while not altering one's fundamental nature or principles.

It must be the dog days of summer when two out of four nonfiction pieces in this issue concern canine companions. Peter Bridges is back with another outstanding entry in his evolving memoir of life abroad during the Cold War ("Dingo and Fair Game"), while Amy Kenyon proves a dog is not only man's best friend but woman's as well. Her "Taking Leave" contains several photos that are just as moving as the prose associated with them.

If you're seeking photos of a land at once far far away and yet somehow familiar at the same time, click over to "No One's From Nowhere" by travel writer B.A. Van Sise. What becomes of abandoned movie sets? Do the locals pay rent on their new dwellings? Will the cosplayers ever arrive? These questions and more will or will not be answered, but regardless, Van Sise has given me a new hope for the possibilities of travel narrative. I can't wait for Episode X.