Character. The distinctive nature of something. A letter or symbol. A person in a story. The word carries multiple meanings, yet “character” is what comes to mind when thinking of the adept and artful writing present in this issue. In the pieces here, writers face character in all its forms, reaching into its depths and finding a new version of the truth, perhaps different than what appeared on the surface.
What happens when you face character? In “Names,” Patricia Heim ruminates on the role of names, these formal and informal titles and the characters they themselves hold within. In “Death of the Sire,” Robert Boucheron creates an entire world of characters who spins beautifully around “the Sire.” In “In the Army with Ray” Britt Leach confronts the character of a friend—who he was to him, what that means—creating a masterful elegy. In “Woman” Quinlan Wang we get the breaking down of Chinese characters, and the roles that women inhabit, with a delicate and subversive tread.
What these four writers do collectively is use character as a verb. They character someone or something. They inscribe. They engrave. These pieces leave inscriptions in our minds of the complexities of language, love, death, titles, and, of course, characters.
We hope they do so for you too.
Cumi Ikeda and Steffan Triplett