From Tom Dooley, Managing/Fiction
As my Facebook friends and acquaintances know, I've been remodeling a house for going on six months now. Remodeling a house is like a very expensive hobby combined with (relatively) inexpensive therapy. It's a time commitment equal to keeping up with college and pro football combined, but unlike watching sports on TV, it yields a tangible result. Every issue of Eclectica takes a pile of work to produce, too, and this one was no exception. Editing an online literary magazine is a little less time intensive and monumentally less expensive than my other "hobby," but the results, while perhaps not tangible, are super gratifying, and I remain grateful to our editors (see below), contributors, and readers who continue to make this virtual publication meaningful in real life—I hope many of yours as well as mine.
I'd like to acknowledge some of our readers are living in places where things aren't so much being built or created as they're being outright destroyed, either by nature or their fellow man. Many of our readers, if not in harm's way themselves, know people in Israel and Gaza, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Morocco, Haiti, Sudan, and so many other places where the luxury of building a house (that hasn't just been reduced to rubble) or editing a literary magazine (entirely without fear of censorship, let's add), let alone lying around watching American football for hours on end if that's your thing, simply doesn't exist. I don't have much love for the phrase "thoughts and praryers," but my thoughts are with them, and I hope if for some reason they've found themselves reading this obscure collection of pixels in a far corner of the Internet, they find something here to comfort, inform, or entertain them.
Congrats to our Spotlight Authors, including runners up John Cullen for his melancholy poem "Snagged" and William Luvaas for his indelible memoir, "The Seizural '60s." Grace Glass is the Spotlight winner for her story "Screen Door," which I nominated not just for its vivid depiction of children navigating imperfect parents, but for those moments where her prose shifts gears and becomes, without overdoing it, a kind of prose poem.
Congrats is also in order for former Nonfiction Editor David Ewald, whose collection of short stories, The Fallible, just arrived on my front porch a few hours ago. My blurb, which the editors had the good sense to leave out in favor of better ones, reads as follows:
One of the chapters of this book is titled "You Too Have Weapons." The first time I scanned it, my mind unconsciously read the words as, "You Have Too Many Weapons." I thought, David might be onto something here about the state of America in the 2020s, about among other things, our obsession with guns. I may have read that chapter title incorrectly, but I was right about the bigger picture. Turns out, he is. Onto something, with The Fallible.
In other news, longtime, prolific contributor Thomas J. Hubschman's play "The Audition" was published by a magazine in India. As a result, a director in Calcutta read it and has asked permission to stage it in Hindi. Besides being a cool thing in and of itself, this is especially great to hear because I had passed on the piece awhile back, saying to Tom at the time how I "didn't much care for plays about plays." The lesson here is, of course, people in India LOVE plays about plays. No... the lesson is, artists of all kinds in all situations should not be discouraged by setbacks or rejections. You can learn from setbacks and rejections, but you can also just keep looking for a better audience. Thankfully, Tom keeps sending amazing work our way, and this issue's Salon essay, wherein we learn how the Hellenistic Age influenced current day politics, art, and religion, is a perfect example.
Thanks to those folks who've stuck with posting news to our Facebook group page, Eclectica Magazine extended "family." For awhile there we were awash in the unwelcome news of the demise of Mike Tyson, Simon Cowell, and Celine Dion. Boomer adjacent as I am, it took me a minute to figure out how to block these things. I'm glad to report we're spam free, back to posts about publishing credits, readings, cover art, blog links, and the like. If you have writerly news, big or small, please feel encouraged to join the group and post something. The name of the group is intentionally on the nose. Our family may be in air quotes because we're a virtual one, but I value the connections.
From Evan Martin Richards, Poetry
Hello and welcome to the 2023 Fall Issue!
In the Poetry section, John Cullen paints a scene of mistaken identity on the California seaside in "Snagged." Deborah Doolittle reflects on a television role model 50 years after the fact in "Watching the 50th Anniversary Edition of Star Trek." Michael J. Galko renders change through a static focus in "Gift of an African Head." Benjamin Nash casts the grim of humankind against the quiet grace of nature in "Sunflowers," while Cathy Hollister likens the machinations of our consumerism to a global ant colony in "Collective."
This issue's Word Challenge section tasked poets with writing pieces containing the words saw, deserve, grass, and heavy. In Erin Jamieson's "Perhaps," a sparrow searches for sustenance in the remains of a broken home. Nicholas Barnes discusses loss with a giant statue of Paul Bunyan in "we held hands." Marj Hahne's "For the Deflated in December" picks apart childhood memories in a poignant, empathetic ode. Richard L. Matta uses the duplex form to pen a meeting of the self in "Duplex for Slowing Down." Scott Burwash's "Misery Whip" depicts a vignette of the titular tool and the destructive work of those who wield it. The words for next issue's challenge are better, doubt, mode, and wrong—I look forward to reading your submissions!
From Stuart Ross, Reviews
In this issue, Ann Seka reviews some recent novels, including the new Ann Patchett. Gregory Stephenson returns with a look at Georges Perec's "An Attempt at Exhausting a Place in Paris," the gold standard of sitting in a cafe and writing down everything you see. The publisher and author Gerald Brennan grapples with what he sees as inconsistencies in Joshua Mohr's latest novel, raising the question of how one detail can alter our perception of a work as a whole.
Last week, I was having drinks with Vincent Francone and some other guys in their 40s, when the topic of vasectomies came up. We talked about creating a "vasectomy reading list," the genesis for Vincent's touching and humorous piece here. Finally, I grapple with the work of Delicious Tacos, one of the most exciting authors working today.
From Marko Fong, Nonfiction
Now and then, a theme emerges on its own from our submissions. This time it was Civil Rights.
When I first saw William Luvaas's "The Seizural Sixties," I worried it would be yet another '60s memoir. It is, but it finds a way to be different by weaving in his personal history with a seizure disorder and his exploration of what it meant to be free both with respect to black voting rights in Alabama at the time, to life in Berkeley, to living communally near Humboldt County. Anything that starts with Freedom Riders and ends with the Manson family has to be quite an adventure, consciousness altered or not.
Donna Cameron's "Love Affair with an Old Russian" is both about 19th century Russian writers and the legal consequences of a clandestine visit to Dostoyevsky's grave. Margaret Donovan Bauer looks at the inner politics of workplace flirting when men and women became professional peers in academia.
Eve Goldberg tells a fascinating story with a simple moral: voting and the right to vote has real consequences. Jiya D. provides some background on why Faya Toure and Hank Sanders were able to do what they did. Hiya D. discusses the Alabama redistricting case currently back in front of the Supreme Court almost 60 years after William Luvaas went to Alabama to work on behalf of voting rights and 50 years after Hank Sanders and Faya Toure graduated from Harvard Law School and came to Alabama to continue the fight for Civil Rights.
One quick background note. One of my missions as non-fiction co-editor has been to bring in some younger writers. I found that older writers were well represented here, but younger voices were a bit harder to find. I'm pleased to add their voices to Eclectica and wish to encourage more younger writers to contribute.