In Requiem for a Nun William Faulkner famously wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Similarly, the ancient Chinese believed that time is not a line moving one forward into the future, but rather a ladder that one descends into the past. Reading for the summer issue with no theme in mind, we kept finding ourselves descending rungs of that ladder, returning to stories that called us back—or, called us into the present—forcing us to confront the places and memories that refuse to die within us.
In the work we present here, writers face the conflict between past and present—whether moving through grief and fragmented recollections of mental illness in Marin Sardy’s “Attachment” or reliving childhood memories from the inconstant Yukon Territory in Patrick Kelling’s “Destruction Bay.” We also interview Jen Hirt, author of Under Glass—a memoir about the demolition of her family’s greenhouse business—to ask how she navigated between writing about the “stabilizing” artifacts of the past and those places and people still dynamic and present. These stories evoke a past that is, paradoxically, as remote and wistfully felt as it is immediate, vivid, and persistent. They invite us to look at those experiences that never fully pass—how they shape us and the ways in which they become us.
We hope you enjoy them as much as we did. Thank you for reading.