This issue, our first issue, is about liminal spaces and how our psyches choose to fill them. Sometimes our subconscious minds invite a foul-mouthed FDR to wheel himself over and tell us the secrets of life. Or we get transformed into a bird of prey, and wake up naked in a tree with a face full of blood.
Come to think of it, these are not bad metaphors for what we imagine your experience might be like here in the surreptitious webscape we’re calling Atticus Review. You can call it whatever you like. Etherville. Moonmont. Stratopolis. But whatever your coordinates are when you begin reading, we hope you have to reassess your latitude by the time you click away. We believe in magic, telepathy, alchemy, and time travel, and we aim to choose creative pieces that will make you believe too.
And if you’re a writer who tests limits, especially if you write with a rocket-fueled pen, I want to read your best stuff. Please send it my way. In addition to my appointment as editor-in-chief, I’m also a writer who is a bad submitter. I get intimidated; I fear rejection. So please know that your work will be shown respect, and reviewed with eyes that have stared at submit buttons for too long before nervous fingers finally clicked. I know what a gift it is for you to give us—for free!— something you spent hours honing, tweaking, editing, getting just right.
But back to FDR (see there, how I time-traveled?). When I read Jarred McGinnis’s “Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Overcoming Adversity,” it took me about two minutes to accept it. Seriously. It was the first flash fiction submission I received after Atticus Review howled a send-us-your-flash howl, and I just got darn lucky. Here’s something to remember: you pretty much can’t go wrong if you put a reanimated, erection-prone FDR in his signature wheelchair, get him cursing about Stalin’s mustache, and give him a catch-phrase.
Melinda Baker’s “We All Have Needs” had an entirely different trajectory. It took me a year to accept it. You know why? Because there was no Atticus Review a year ago, and I was just waiting until I got to be the editor of something so I could publish it. The story won Belmont University’s 2010 Graduate English Writing Award last spring, around which time we sat together waiting to take the podium at a university reading—me for my thesis, and her for her award. I read my poststructuralist feminist childbirth monomyth blah-blah-blah, and then she read an excerpt of her story. Damn, I thought. That’s really good. It was original, fresh. Mysterious but still straightforward. Slightly fantastical but undeniably literary. And I must say that while I occasionally have an aversion to epistolary story structures, Melinda Baker presents the form so that it is not flat, but more resembles an aluminum origami bird. (Would you believe me if I said that’s how she submitted her manuscript?) The italicized passages seem to be either written, or imagined, or both, and who knows who the speaker/thinker/writer of them is? I think it’s appropriate that the reader isn’t quite sure about these things, because the narrator isn’t sure, and the subject isn’t sure, and the writing really conveys the inherent confusion. No one can be certain of anything in this story, and yet a reader can choose to be anchored with concrete details that make the narrative solid and visually stunning. I won’t say another word about it. Just read it.
So there you have it: your flash fiction, your long short story (the most pleasurable of all oxymorons, except maybe “jumbo shrimp”). This is how we’re going to do it, pairing two stories each week, one under 1,000 words, and one over. One you can read at work on your coffee break, and one you can sink into late at night at home. Fair warning, though: we never promised to be safe for work. Or safe, period. Our magic carpets do not have seat belts.
Fiction isn’t all we’re unsafely offering you either. There is poetry; there are multimedia nuggets that may manifest as soundscapes one week and short films the next. We want to keep you guessing about us. We want to entertain you. (Won’t you let us entertain you?) I don’t want to say too much about these selections each week, because they are best savored with an unsuspecting palate. I wouldn’t want to whet your appetite for iberico secreto when what you will actually taste is beef bourguignon. Both delicious, but drastically different experiences. You dig?
But I will say a little.
David Musgrove’s “Alligator Wine,” was one of the first poems chosen by Atticus Review’s resident poetry editor Michael Meyerhofer, and it seemed to fit with the human-as-animal theme of “We All Have Needs.” Musgrove’s poem explores the blurred line between humans and other members of the animal kingdom, how we relate to each other in this way, and how we, the humans—sometimes leonine, fishy, crabby, catty, mule-headed—can morph, adapt, and quietly plod through days hiding the secret of our powerful, massive bite, or alternately, spend hours avoiding getting bitten.
Matt Mullins, mixed media editor, contributed both soundscapes for this issue. And I wish I could say I were so brilliant that I purposely paired Matt’s haunting “Fear Itself” with Jared McGinnis’s FDR romp, but it just kind of happened that way. It was providence, synchronicity, gnomes—a stellar surprise once I realized what had happened. And don’t miss “Emergency In An Empty Room,” which seemed to fit with everything this issue—the unexpected and unexplained creating discord in the empty rooms we carry around day in, day out, always following us, always a threat. Empty spaces we fill with soundscapes, poetry, stories.
Before you take wing I think it’s only fair I should issue another warning: if you wake up feathered and flying and staring into FDR’s spectacles, and you come to us for an explanation, we will look at you blankly and tell you that that sort of thing is normal around here.
Welcome to Atticus Review.
Designed by Roman Diaz and Daniel Naranjo
Photo by Emre Ayaroglu