Dispatches | February 08, 2007

The latest issue has been here for a couple of weeks now, and more than a few compliments have come our way.  The compliments belong to the authors, of course, not really to us.  We’re only the middlepeople who’ve helped some good writing get into print. 

It’s definitely an eclectic issue.  The banner across the top talks about “understanding Holocaust history,” but the issue theme highlighted on the spine is “Enchantment.”  How horror and wonder can reasonably coexist is one of the great mysteries of life, and it’s also a quirk of this particular issue.  There’s enchantment in some of the marvelous prose, mostly by young writers, about youth and love.  But then turn to Ellen Hinsey’s superb sequence of poems that render torture and political oppression uncomfortably tangible to the reader, and you may find yourself queasy.  That’s some of the horror. 

A more quiet kind of horror is presented through the perspective of essayist Mimi Schwartz, whose essay “Off the Record” sidesteps a genre that has become very familiar to us: the Holocaust essay.  It’s a noble genre because these essays (we read a dozen or more a year) aim to voice searching individual responses to an attempted genocide that remains one of the most shocking evils in contemporary history.  But individual does not necessarily mean fresh or far-reaching.  Schwartz’s essay is both.  It’s a Holocaust essay, but it’s also an essay about how a historical event or situation can be so differently interpreted by one person that it is barely recognizable to someone else who views the “same” history from a divergent perspective.  One of the nicest compliments I’ve heard about the issue came from a TMR book reviewer, for whom that essay had special resonance, since her own family came from a Schwarzwald village much like the one Schwartz writes about.

We’ve had agents asking with interest about some of the “new kids” in the issue.  And Fan Wu, whose story “Jade” also appears in it, just e-mailed to say that her first novel, February Flowers, will be published by Atria, a Simon and Schuster imprint, in July.  The work of these emerging writers seems to be enchanting people, deservedly.  If you haven’t picked up the issue yet, do it now!