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Victoria Lancelotta 

Editor's Introduction

So this is the editor's introduction--it says so on the table of contents--and I'm the editor. But this is maybe not the whole truth--editing, to me, is reading a story through and making the little improving tweaks that someone at a greater distance from it than the author is can make more easily than he or she can: deleting an adverb or two, moving a line, suggesting a bit more in the way of character development. That kind of thing. I've done this with these stories here, but before that I had a much more difficult task in front of me. I had to choose the stories themselves. For months I received submissions, a few dozen or more in a week, and in reading through them I was judge, jury, executioner. This stays, that goes. It was awful. And the reason it was awful was because so much of what I read was genuinely good; so many of the stories had a character or a scene or even just one line that hit me, sitting here at my desk with my coffee getting cold, that hit me and stuck. But there's only so much room in any literary magazine, print or electronic, and there comes a point when you have to start sifting things out. And I hated the sifting. Because for each of the wonderful stories here, there were two or three or ten that were almost as wonderful, or wonderful in different ways, that aren't included.

I watch a lot of movies, and I have a ritual I go through after I watch one. Once I've formulated an opinion on whatever I've just seen, I sit here and read through the reviews online to see where my take on the movie falls in the spectrum of professional opinion (whatever that is; maybe I should just say paid opinion). I confess to feeling a little kick of smugness whenever Joe Fancy-Pants Movie Reviewer and I agree. The thing is, of course, that there's very rarely a consensus about anything, and so second-guessing yourself is finally pointless--there's always someone out there who will think your opinion is worth about as much as mud on a shoe. But with the stories here, there was no second-guessing involved. The one thing they all had in common from the beginning was the response, the immediate response on my part that precluded a rhetorically elegant opinion. I couldn't explain at first why they moved me, or what it was about them that I found so compelling. I just knew that I wanted them here. And as they began to amass in my specially-labeled mailbox I started to see a pattern emerging, one that was big enough to allow for the many quirks and idiosyncrasies that each author bravely and surely offered up and yet specific enough to make each story resonate in a new way by its proximity to the others: these characters, these people, are hurting not because they don't care, because they don't love, but because they do. What comes out of their mouths is maybe not the right thing, but it's the true thing. I feel for them not because their actions are necessarily admirable or otherwise praiseworthy, but because they are doing the best they can. Which is, of course, all we can expect of anyone. So I did the best I could by them. I'm handing them over to you. Reheat the coffee, or better yet, brew a fresh pot. They deserve it.

 

 

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