Editor’s Note: The Fiction Only Issue
How are we to understand the idea of fiction in a time when so much of what is actually happening in reality defies imagination? When the most elementary tenets of our society seem to be dissolving, leaving us with a sense of chaos and helplessness? When the horrific stories happening around the corner overwhelm the mind and threaten to render creative work irrelevant and indulgent?
Furthermore, how are we to understand the idea of fiction at a time when the act of will required in immersing oneself in a novel or short story seems, in the face of the infinite demands on our time, almost heroic?
If you’re reading this, you don’t need answers to these questions. You’ve already decided, set your priorities, shored your fragments, as T.S. Eliot said, against your ruin. In doing this, the simple act of reading the stories in this journal, you are taking a stand, enacting something, living by example.
The works we’re presenting here are striking examples of what is, for a storyteller living today, attainable, possible. Yet, they represent the metaphorical tip of the iceberg. We received, for this issue, hundreds of submissions, writing that came to us not only from lands of native English speakers, but from writers with lives based in China, India, Saudi Arabia, South America, and Japan. Each submission was like a small, flickering missive, proof that all over the world, working alone, carving out time amidst the ruthless challenges of our era, with no promise of remuneration or even publication, there are people who are compelled to turn not to their screens, their social media, their TV content providers, but to the realm of the imagination, and create, word by word, something the world has never seen.
“You do not need to leave your room,” Kafka wrote. “Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be quiet still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.”
Here they are, then. Twenty five fragments of the world. Unmasked.