To describe essayistic works, Dinty W. Moore uses the following metaphor:
Imagine there is a fire burning deep in the forest. In an essay of conventional length, the reader begins at the forest’s edge, and is taken on a hike, perhaps a meandering stroll, into those words, in search of that fire. The further in the reader goes, with each page that turns, the more the reader begins to sense smoke in the air, maybe heat, or just an awareness that something ahead is smoldering.
In a brief essay, however, the reader is not a hiker but a smoke jumper, one of those brave firefighters who jump out of planes and land 30 yards from where the forest fire is burning. The writer starts the reader right at that spot, at the edge of the fire, or as close as one can get without touching the actual flame. There is no time to walk in.
In this issue, we are pleased to bring you both smoke jumpers and flame seekers, from the shorts of Tessa Barkan, Ayse Papatya Bucak, Sydney Lea, and Colin Rafferty, to the longer works of Mallory Jones and Ryan Van Meter. These pieces cover much terrain, from climbers resting on an Indian mountain peak, to a high school band room, to a father in a kitchen observing his son’s dying dog. From questioning one’s own heart, to wondering how Thomas Jefferson would see today’s America, to following the personal and historical trajectories of a single word, each author brings us towards a flame. In addition, we have an interview with Amos Barshad, who walks us through the steps he’s taken to become the writer he is today.
We hope you enjoy the writing as much as we have.
-Cumi Ikeda & Gavin Jenkins