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Jane Armstrong

Editor's Introduction

 

Is there a "now" distinct from a clearly recognizable "then"?

Ask a silly question.

Of course there’s a "now," many of my submitters said. "I wrote this yesterday. Is that ‘now’ enough for you?"

Or: Of course there’s a "now" and it’s all about wars, terrorists, and natural disasters.

Or: Of course there’s a "now" but it looks exactly like "back then." Deal with it.

There seemed to be a bit of anxiety about the question, spasms of defensiveness, and not a little barely-suppressed hostility (I was charged with being a formalist, a hater of the conventional, and—gasp!—anti-Edwardian. For the record: I am none of those). But there was also a great deal of interest, some real excitement about the possibilities the question raised and, above all, many fascinating, challenging submissions.

I can’t say that I got a definitive answer to my question. I am, regrettably, not able to set forth a list of characteristics for the new "now." I acknowledge that my sample was limited (300 or so submissions for one issue of one magazine), but I think it was a good sample. I’d guest-edited for Blip Magazine Archivebefore and knew its authors and aspiring authors to be fairly representative of the best that’s out there.

So, I offer here seventeen pieces which may or may not convey the now-ness of a literary moment which may or may not exist, which could not have existed at any other time in history because their authors did not exist at any other time in history, and which, in most cases, render present moments that are inextricably linked with the past. Some deal with current technologies. Others twist fresh juice out of "current events." A few impose some pressure on form. All of them urge our full attention, our total immersion into rich, inhabitable worlds of words, voices and images--the infinitely engaging and ever-present "now."


Jane Armstrong’s work has appeared in Newsweek, The North American Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, New Orleans Review, Brevity and on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.  She teaches at Northern Arizona University.

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