Introduction to Our Contributors’ Prose
The six prose pieces in our Summer 2014 issue portray women in action. They take to the road via bike, ’68 Skylark, or a “bad-ass, quad cab, diesel Silverado.” They meditate upon Mt. Hood, upon Lord Shiva, upon the carcass of a tiny owl. They face the dangers of flash floods in extreme terrain, of bears and careless drivers, of life on the streets peddling fake drugs and taking real ones. They carve out their spaces to contend with grief and loss, with social norms and expectations. Through their actions, the narrators of these pieces examine ways of being a woman, a sister, a mother, a child, a lover, a friend.
And, each narrator struggles with her actions in her own way. “Tribes” tells the story of a young woman whose “adventure” – living life on the streets of Los Angeles – belies the darker reasons that she finds herself homeless and struggling. In “Carnage,” the narrator bikes for her life, though she also believes this could be her destruction. Two women strike out on a humorous camping adventure in “Owyhee Barbie,” but behind the humor is a genuine interest in subverting tropes related to sex and gender. The narrator of “Permeable Divide” searches for some means for handling grief in the observance of nature. In “Pepper Anderson Meets the Amazon,” the narrator examines what it has meant to grow up a girl of her time, frustrated by physical and social restrictions. And in “The Day I Stopped Typing,” the narrator finds solace for her loss through the everyday comforts she has carefully established.
Though many of the pieces read like fiction, it seems significant that these six pieces are all nonfiction. We laugh and suffer with these narrators. We dream their dreams and fear their fears. We experience their confusion, surprise and sorrow. They are not sentimental, but we come away from these pieces with our own sentiments shifted, having learned something about being these particular people in the world. That, after all, is what we seek in the best stories of any genre.
Michelle Fredette and Tiah Lindner Raphael
Guest Prose Co-Editors