OK, everyone, we’re getting physical in this issue.
From bodies fighting to bodies changing and getting sick, many of the stories in this issue are exploring our corporeal selves and dealing with this body we are stuck with.
In Mike Meginnis’ “Three Bodies,” humans are turned quite literally into very physical beings—described in very unemotional ways, though the emotional state still manages to shine through: “This body cannot remember the faces of other bodies. Not its wife’s body’s face. Not it’s father’s body’s face. Not its mother’s body’s face. It can only recognize hands.”
But the physical is also explosive, as we see in Tracy Gonzalez’s “We Walk Away, the Three of Us.” In this story we are thrust, unprepared, into a very physical fight going on between two men, one of whom is naked. The energy in this piece is very hard-edged, rough, and seems to suggest the emotion and vulnerability of the narrator. “I feel sleek and dangerous like a diamondback gazelle except for the freeloader that is my lolling penis, which flops and sways in opposition to every graceful brave move I make. It is an embarrassing sidekick,” the narrator says, and we as readers can feel this tension and unease as we are trying to situate ourselves in the narrative.
On the other hand, though equally as physical a story, Julie Draper’s “Natural” is a much quieter, introspective piece that questions the idea of physically changing one’s body. In “Natural,” a woman contemplates how she feels about her girlfriend’s body as she is going through a sex change. “She was only twenty-three—too young, I thought, to make such a permanent decision about her body,” the narrator thinks, and later, “…but in the end it was her body, her breasts” and “I did what I could to support her.”
And what happens when our bodies change without us wanting them to? Zin Kenter’s “The Mystery of Water” looks at this issue, where a man is dealing with a deadly sickness and suddenly feels completely out of control of himself.
The characters in “Natural” and “The Mystery of Water” connect beautifully to a conflict that seems very real—how do we separate our minds and emotions from our physical bodies? Can we? Should we? And what happens to our love for ourselves and our partners, friends and family when our bodies change?
We are proud to present Issue 31, with the stories mentioned above plus many more. As always, we are extremely excited to have such wonderful artists working with us to create fabulous illustrations for all our stories—thanks to Gay Degani, our staff editor and art director, for all her hard work.
And don’t forget to check out the author interviews—the links to all are found at the bottom of every story.
Have a great spring!
Tara Laskowski and Beth Thomas
Senior Editors, SmokeLong Quarterly
March 28, 2011