Go ahead. Admit it. As readers of literature, we’re voyeurs. We want to know about the nitty-gritty of relationships; how they shape people, how people come to understand each other and hurt each other, and how they heal.
In the six prose pieces in this issue, three fiction and three nonfiction, we’re compelled by connections between characters, on narrators figuring out their lives – how can I be a good parent? What is my place in the world? How do I change the dynamic in my marriage? Where did things go so terribly wrong?
Some of the central relationships are with children, as in “Let Me Explain,” where with humor and an almost obsessive drive for frankness, the narrator attempts to reverse with her own children the discomfort with honesty that her parents had with her. In “Ben,” a teacher is haunted by the tragedy that befalls a student, and her inability to do the thing he asks of her. And in “Risk Takers,” we witness the struggles of a mother during her daughter’s early teens to maintain the parenting principles she set out before her daughter was born.
“The Itching” has at its center a conflict between a woman and her husband, which plays out in front of her father and brother, and is influenced by her mother’s recent death. She is insecure and grieving and yet there is a grace and vulnerability in her failures.
Other pieces in this collection grapple with relationships at a distance: The narrator of “Cooking Lessons” must redefine her fraught relationship with food and family. In the course of doing so, she gains a new perspective on her mother, now deceased. In “The Passenger,” the narrator stays separated from his lover by a river; he’s true to her, but not with her. Even more central is his relationship with music, which is his means for communication, for understanding, and for feeling.
So indulge yourselves, readers. Enjoy the pain, the confusion, the joy, and the love that define these characters’ struggles. And savor the writing that dazzles us all with its honesty and humor.
Tanya Jarvik, Nikki Schulak
and Desiree Wright