May 292017

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I watched Ingmar Bergman’s Fanny and Alexander the other night and was touched again by the gentle, passionate attachment the family has for its theatre, which is both a central symbol (everyone is an actor) and a thematic sourcebook (Shakespeare and Strindberg). In that wonderful speech backstage after the Christmas pageant, the soon-to-be-dead brother talks about the little room of the theatre where the actors and actresses produce their art. It’s mostly for their own pleasure in a sense, but it will sometimes bring joy to their audience, and sometimes it will even reach beyond, into the larger world.

I think of the magazine that way. It’s first a community of authors, artists, translators and editors, and we do this for ourselves, for our own pleasure. And then there is the extended community of readers and watchers. And beyond that the larger world that sometimes takes notice, is mildly diverted or surprised, perhaps even changed a little. You don’t find beauty and intelligence framed this way in everyday life. It’s a special place, a little room.

We have a sweet, exceptional issue coming out in June, including Victoria Best’s gorgeous double interview (with painter Miranda Boulton and poet Kaddy Benyon) on the nature and progress of creativity, Trinie Dalton’s memoir “Ripper,” a wonderfully realized “Childhood” essay by Mark Foss, an amazingly accomplished short story by a fresh, new writer Tom Howard, and a lovely appreciation by Domenic Stansberry of the Brooklyn novelist Jay Neugeboren. But there is more! — poems by Darren Bifford, Clint McCown, and a young new writer from Arizona, Erin Lillo, and Jane Clarke (Irish, the latest in our Irish lit series). And besides the Miranda Boulton paintings that accompany the Victoria Best interviews, we have a selection of beautiful paintings by the incomparable Katie DeGroot, who has appeared on these pages before. The ambidextrous poet Cynthia Huntington turns her hand to nonfiction, passionate and wild. Russell Working does a little turn as a literary analyst, comparing stories by James Joyce and Alice Munro. And we have a short fiction piece by the Fernando Aramburu translated from Spanish by Brendan Riley (who is by way of being a regular at NC).

Jason DeYoung, our book review editor, has pulled together a cadre of whip-smart reviewers who pick the most incandescent books to write about. This month Daniel Green, new to the magazine, reviews Robert Coover’s Huck Out West; Contributing Editor Jason Lucarelli reviews The Sarah Book by Scott McLanahan; Rohan Maitzen (also a newcomer) reviews Sarah Moss’s Lost Children; Mike Carson reviews Josh Emmon’s A Moral Tale and Other Moral Tales (and, Lo!, we have a story from the book to go with the review); Rich Farrell, a former senior editor, returns to review Steven Heighton’s The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep ; and Dorian Stuber reviews Hans Keilson’s 1944 Diary.

And, as usual, there is MORE!

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