Legacy. Or maybe legacy’s the wrong word. Maybe it’s better to say “footprints” or “impressions.” Things we leave behind, the lives we live, the choices we make—for better or worse. Legacy makes me think about the Carnegies and Vanderbilts, but I can mentally manage the thought of me leaving indentions in life’s furniture and scattering my fairy dust in a Hansel-and-Gretel trail. We all build something and leave pieces of ourselves everywhere.
That’s our theme. And below you’ll find our theme’s theme songs, all straight from my iPod. My Nashville roots are showing, but even beyond that, this is a very, very important week, reader-friends: my favorite song of all time is featured. Glen Campbell’s version of “MacArthur Park” is—O-M-G—totally my ambrosia. Really, I’m a sucker for anything with a major 7 chord, which means Jimmy Webb, songwriter extraordinaire, is my BFF. He just doesn’t know it yet.
Stephanie Lee’s “The Onward Flow” reads like creative nonfiction, an effect that heightens the story’s compelling themes: what parents will do for their children to give them the gift of a bright future; how infamous events affect real people’s lives; what it means to navigate a new country without sacrificing native customs. The personal really is the political, and the tracks we lay down can change direction, but can’t be unfastened.
“She Was Short” is a story I wish I had written, and really, was so close to writing that it was on the tip of my pen. I would have not done as good a job at it as Avital Gad-Cykman, however. Headstone inscriptions and eulogies have forever fascinated me, how we idealize people and try to sum up a life in a handful words. And how some lives are so quiet and generally unremarkable that there’s not a lot to say. Which makes me think that the best inscription for a writer is “The end.” (Or “-30-” for you journalism folks.)
Often (would it be too daring to say most often?) the impressions we make are invisible, or unfelt, or wiped out by bigger feet. In “The Care and Its Enemies,” John Grey tenderly captures a moment like this, and in doing so, accounts for a morning dance that would otherwise be hidden. The two lines at the end set the whole poem spinning on pointe shoes.
And all of these pieces are, of course, mini-legacies within the bigger legacies of the writers. They’re here now on the Internet; they are published, which makes one person’s story belong to everyone. We can read the authors’ bios and know them a little, but writing them carries the same dilemma as writing an epitaph: it’s so hard to convey a person’s essence in so few words. But their stories and poems give us insight into their thoughts, maybe even their interests or processes, and say so much more. They reveal something intimate.
So today, the first issue after Thanksgiving, I want to say something to the writers who give us their work: thank you. There would be no Atticus Review without you. And I know you submit to other places, enterprising and ambitious as you are, so without you, there would also be no Metazen, Necessary Fiction, Smokelong Quarterly, FRiGG, Emprise Review (I am leaving out a crazy-ton of other places I like to haunt). I would have a lot more free time without you, for sure, but I feel like my life would have less meaning. You allow me to contribute something, and you contribute to me in infinite ways.
Now and then, I stop and think, “Wait a second. People just give us stories and poems and art? For free?! Because we asked them to?!” And it amazes me every time.
Thank you for leaving your tracks here.