Welcome to Issue 101 of The Collagist!
I've written before about what I see as our need, as humans, for surprise (in this very space, in fact, two years ago today, in my letter for Issue 89), and, because a need is of course very different from a fad, different even from an affection, no matter how deeply felt, well, here I am, thinking and writing about it again, two years later.
The surprise I have in mind, by the way, isn't so very different from the surprise I wrote about back then, and anyway this issue most definitely contains surprises: people suddenly going missing or reappearing or both, objects revealed to be both themselves and something other, forms (in all senses) that morph in front of your eyes, books becoming fiber and fireworks, people rendered unrecognizable even to themselves—they are, as I wrote in February, 2017, surprises that "show us that we don't—can't—know everything, and that what we do know, we know incompletely, imperfectly, through a glass darkly."
The wonders of this issue, though, go beyond its contents. That's because, with this issue, our assistant fiction editors, Emily Alex and Andrew Farkas, have become, simply, our fiction editors. After fifty-one issues as this magazine's fiction editor, I have decided that it's time for a new focus and set of tastes for The Collagist's fiction section, and I couldn't be happier that those eyes and those tastes belong to Emily and Andrew. You might think that, after working so closely with Emily and Andrew for the past four issues, their selections for this issue wouldn't be such a surprise to me, but, no; reading their selections was indeed a most wonderful surprise. (And I very much hope you agree, dear reader.)
It goes without saying that surprise may occur when one finds oneself in a new setting—I write to you after having spent the last four days shoveling snow, a thing that would have seemed the sign of opening seals had it happened in my previous home of Florida—but it seems to me that surprise is most effective (and affecting) in the most familiar settings, when even ordinary experiences are shown to be extraordinary, and when we re-learn to appreciate what our lives really are (even when what they are isn't what we wish them to be). In short, I am still of the opinion that surprise is necessary, and something to be celebrated. But then, celebrating surprise is no substitute for experiencing it, so now I'll get out of the way and let Issue 101's contents speak (and surprise) for themselves.
Thank you so much for stopping by,