Jan/Feb 2023

From the Editors

Photo courtesy of NASA's image library

Photo courtesy of NASA's image library

From Tom Dooley, Managing/Fiction

For the past month or so, Julie and I have been working our way through Game of Thrones. Watching this show now in 2023 is a little like really getting into Tupac in 1999 (something we also did). We're late to the party but no less impressed, finally understanding what all the fuss was about. There's something comforting, too, knowing at our viewing pace, we've still got months' worth of this amazing show to watch. Eclectica Magazine is of course not at the same level of cultural import, but as I continue to work on reformatting our back issues, I can assure you there aren't just months' worth of great reading, but years'. Now going on 27 years, in fact! In terms of fiction alone, that equates to about a thousand pieces, and you can start reading them on your phone... as soon as you're done checking out this issue.

This issue features poet and Spotlight Author Jordan Ranft, as well as the runners up for nonfiction, Andrew Tibbetts, and for fiction, John Gu. Gu's tale—which calls into question the assertion "No man (or woman) is an island" as a young man in a fictional southeast Asian country tries to navigate life and love with a backdrop of geo-political brinksmanship—headlines a suitably eclectic batch of stories, which range from Reem Hazboun Taşyakan's novel excerpt "Broken Waves"—which follows a young Palestinian American woman in Damascus, Syria, trying to navigate life and love with a backdrop of cultural and familial tension—to Robert Klose's "The Bulgarian Mother"—which follows a young Bulgarian immigrant to the US and his irrepressible mother as they navigate life and love with a backdrop of "status" (economic, legal, and relationship) uncertainty. In between, we have a scathing indictment of men trying to get in touch with their feminine side by Oline Eaton, a heartbreaking eco-allegory by Will Richter, and an equally allegorical story about a virus causing people to grow beards by Kelly Piggott. It's a hoopla!

The Salon features work by venerable and inveterate contributor Thomas J. Hubschman, who continues to provide a quarterly blueprint for thoughtful sanity. Joining him (I hope—as I write this, the piece is still in progress) is Marko Fong, whose no less thoughtful, no less sane work I'm hoping will be as much of a mainstay in the Salon for years to come as Tom's. As for the other Tom—me—my essay on homelessness isn't anywhere near completion as I continue to go down rabbit hole after rabbit hole. Who knows? Maybe an intractable problem will result in an un-finish-able essay. That said, I'm enjoying seeing where the effort takes me. In the meantime, I hope readers will enjoy where the great writing in this issue takes them.

Before I sign off, some quick news concerning former contributors: Lucas Jacob has a book forthcoming from Next Page Press called Sympathetic Beasts. Susan Tepper has published a satiric New York novel set during the pandemic called Office. Stephen F. Austin University Press published Cat Dixon's fifth poetry collection, What Happens in Nebraska, and Nancy K. Jentsch has a collection of poems out titled Between the Rows. And finally, Evening Street Press & Review selected Steven Deutsch's Brooklyn as the winner of the 2022 Sinclair Poetry Prize. Congrats to all of those fine writers. I hope the rest of this winter is warm and productive for them and all of our readers and contributors.


From Marko Fong, Nonfiction

Like a Wordle becoming apparent on the fifth try, a theme emerged slowly yet suddenly for this issue's non-fiction section: memory and death. Andrew Tibbetts' "Unreliable Memory" marks his second consecutive appearance here. A memory of a childhood visit to a classmate's home is radically altered—perhaps unintentionally—by a revelation from a dying mother. Tibbetts's Rashomon-like retelling explores the shadow of loneliness that often surrounds gay children, and how we sometimes alter memories to protect ourselves.

Mary Zelinka's "Displaced Person" explores the absence of memories about a deceased relative from the Ukraine whose story got lost not in the current Russia-Ukraine conflict, but during the chaos during WWII and its aftermath.

As the many childless baby boomers face the question of what happens once they can no longer care for themselves, Judith Day meditates on her own situation with a unique mixture of close observation, concern, and confession. "Who Will Watch You Die?" interweaves the physical consequences of age with the fear of both forgetting and being forgotten.

Gregg Parker's "The Bad Guy Problem" isn't about literal death but discusses his decision to stop working as a screenwriter and a not so subtle yet previously unidentified issue with the promotion of a culture of death or hatred within contemporary movies: the normalization of and gratuitous use of extreme racism and sexism onscreen by assigning it to the "Bad Guys." Parker identifies it, catalogs it, and warns us about the insidious way the trend models and encourages the behaviors by making it charismatic.


From Evan Martin Richards, Poetry

Hello and welcome to the first issue of 2023!

This issue's Poetry section features Jill Bossert, Holly Day, Indu Parvathi, and Jordan Ranft, who provide a wealth of imagery. Some of my favorites include patio chair cushions steaming in the sun, the crooks of the kitchen where mice make their homes, a howling man flipping a car, and constellations of moss on the trunk of an ancient tree. I trust you'll enjoy these poems as much as I have.

The Word Poem challenge—poems all featuring the words sea, save, after, and easy—hosts work from Sarah Blackmon, Bob Bradshaw, Joyce Brinkman, Madronna Holden, Erin Jamieson, Margaret Marcum, and Kivleen Sahni. It's always fun to see where the selected words will take poets. Here we have images of the ocean, laments for nature, the connection of family, and a view behind the curtain of storytelling both immediate and remembered. The words for next issue's challenge are bliss, agenda, star, and lost, and I look forward to seeing the resulting submissions.

Happy Reading!