From Tom Dooley, Managing and Fiction Editor
Eclectica in the time of COVID continues... and while many aspects of our lives have been negatively impacted by this pandemic and its attendant economic woes, this particular corner of online literature is holding up well. As it should, of course, since an opportunity to connect as a community, to share thoughts and partake of snippets of humanity as captured by our fellow travelers, is particularly valuable right now. For me personally, putting together an issue is always an immersive, transformative experience. I'm super glad to have the opportunity to share all this good stuff with you.
A quick mention of the artwork accompanying the fiction pieces... Usually I try to find an artist to feature throughout the issue. This time around, I got the idea to use public domain photos of street graffiti. Unfortunately, I can't give props to the authors, as I don't know who they are. However, if any of you happen upon this site, I want you to know I appreciate your efforts!
The fiction section is packed, and it's packed with the kind of stories I've always gravitated towards, which is to say, stories not necessarily easy to explain or summarize. Like the saying, "You kinda had to be there," when it comes to these stories, you kinda have to read them to feel the heft and impact they wield. Sure, there are plots and characters and settings and themes and narrative voices, but in many cases, it's something else putting them over the top, making them stick with you. At least, that was the case for me, and I hope for you as well.
There are a dozen stories, and I won't go into each of them here, but I will say "Ten Bucks Says He Beats Her" got the nod for Spotlight runner-up because it's a well-crafted piece of fiction, and because it's particularly relevant to today's America (even if it does occupy pre-COVID space), and because its author, Thomas Kearnes, is himself deserving of the recognition. Not only has he appeared in Eclectica twice before in the last ten years, but he's an author who has submitted many stories during that span that didn't make it into the magazine. They may not have made it in, but they made an impression, and Kearnes more so for his tenacity both as an author and as a submittor.
Speaking of people who keep sending us their work, I want to give a shout out to former Spotlight Authors John Palcewski, Richard Risemberg, and Peter Bridges, and former Spotlight Runner-Up Huntley Gibson Paton, who have all again given us great work to enjoy. Lakshmi Arya Thathachar appears in the fiction for the first time, but we've seen her many times before in the poetry section. And Leah Erickson, like Thomas Kearnes, has now notched her third appearance.
I don't in any way mean to leave out the authors who are appearing in Eclectica for the first time. Pascale Potvin, Elizabeth Wahmhoff, Daryana Antipova, Anagha Unni, and Sandra Florence... a warm welcome to them, and I sincerely hope to hear from them many more times in the years to come!
For the time being, I'm also serving as interim Review and Interview Editor, and I'm happy to report we have a full and vibrant issue on that front as well. Kudos to Ann Skea for her usual volume and quality of work, and I hope we'll continue to see Peter Amos, Denton Loving, and Gregory Stephenson's reviews in coming issues. Interviews are a treat, so thanks to Kiran Bhat and Joyce Brinkman for providing us with two very good ones.
No issue's editor note is complete without a mention of what some of our alumni have been up to. Gilbert Allen has two books coming out this Fall. The Beasts of Belladonna, a collection of linked stories, is forthcoming from Slant Books, and Believing in Two Bodies, a collection of poems, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books. Francis Duffy submitted "Bar Kafka," a story from the Jul/Aug 2019 issue of Eclectica, for a contest to make a podcast of published short fiction. It won, and podcast version is now live. Douglas Cole, the subject of Kiran Bhat's aforementioned interview, saw his debut novel The White Field released last month from TouchPoint Press. Rebecca Evans let us know she's part of the Eating Disorders: Navigating Recovery podcast (episode 17). Gary Glauber published a new poetry collection, Rocky Landscape With Vagrants. And last but not least, R.L. (Rachel) Maizes' debut novel, Other People's Pets came out this summer as well, to considerable critical acclaim. I say last, but I'm sure there are plenty of other goings on with regards to Eclectica alums and the literary landscape. Please keep an eye on our Facebook page for more news, and let us know if you're an author yourself who has something to report.
I hope everyone has a safe and productive winter, and that we all weather this difficult time as best we can.
From David Ewald, Nonfiction and Travel Editor
Yesterday I attended my father's service; it is to his memory that I dedicate the nonfiction and travel sections of this issue.
When I accepted "Death and Distance" by Spotlight Author Georgia San Li in early September, I was unaware of just how much her piece reflected not just countless lives but my and my father's as well. For though we lived close by, distance separated us, and after 15 years of his body deteriorating, death was the inevitable outcome for my father this year. He didn't make it, as so many have not. Ms. Li captures such a profound sense of her own loss in but a thousand words; her voice speaks for the nation, for the world, for all of us.
On the lighter side, David Brabec paints a story of a father and son at school, when it was much safer to be on the premises ("Picasso"), and the blessedly prolific Kat Meads ("Mary McCarthy Performs Mary McCarthy") returns with an essay my father, who preferred to read about the lives of others, would have enjoyed.
In the travel section, Hantian Zhang accompanies his father and mother to the village in China where his mother lived and worked under Mao's communist regime. Zhang's final sentence is a question—and an appropriate one: how well do we know our parents? How well did I know my father? One of his favorite quotes was an Albert Camus: "In the midst of winter I found within me an invincible summer." The year 2020 proved to be my father's winter, but in his final days he found the invincible summer that had always been within him. May each of us find such a summer, someday.