BEYOND THE PALE UNKNOWN
BEYOND THE PALE UNKNOWN is our most robust issue to date. Featuring literary greats like Lydia Davis and Patricia Smith alongside enthralling new voices, the issue includes over 50 writers and artists. If you're new to Epiphany, this is a good place to start. If you're an old friend, you won't be disappointed.
*BEYOND THE PALE UNKNOWN is only available in print.
Patricia Smith, "Incendiary Art: Birmingham 1963"
For Avery R. Young
Baby girls boom. Baby girls blow
and burn, skin balloons, booms.
Baby girls burn, boom. The Lord
dangles, festive and helpless.
Hymnals blacken while brown
baby girls pucker, leak. Blood jells,
muddles pigtail, makes lace stiff.
Baby girls blacken, crackle
in the vague direction of His hands
nailed still. Baby brown girl bodies
gap wide, wider, char and shut.
Liz Appel, Tracks [Fiction]
When I was young and everyone was still alive, my bedroom window looked out onto a set of old railroad tracks. The nights I heard the low whistle of the train were nights that seemed special and blessed with a particular purpose. I’d knock on the wall that joined our two rooms—mine and my brother’s—and wait for his reply. His room faced the street and sometimes he didn’t hear me, or was asleep and my knock would go unanswered, alone into the night. But most times he’d knock back and hurry over and we’d crouch at my window to look.
The fact that we had never seen a train didn’t rule out the possibility that one day we would. We pictured it as a single light—an eye in the night—moving softly through the trees.
I was seven and he was nine. The leaves in the ravine behind our house had just gone red and the air was cool and dry.
This was the fall our orthodontist killed his family. Not his whole family, just two older sons and a daughter. His wife survived, though she was shot three times, as well as the youngest son, who was saved by his older sister. I remember my mother telling us this story when it happened. She took on the young girl’s face, looking terrified and awful as she played the scene for us: From the safety of the front lawn the girl would cry, “Where’s Robbie?” or “What about Robbie?” Then she’d run back into the house to where her father was still shooting while her mother watched and maybe protested and maybe did not. Then my mother’s face became her own again and she explained how the girl did in fact save her younger brother, only to be shot dead herself.
Lee Sharkey, "The City"
I was one of the ones who crossed over.
They told me I was a chosen one.
I crossed into the city. What was I carrying on my shoulders?
The parts of the sentence were separated, I saw, by centuries.
I crossed carrying a sentence on my shoulders.
The city gates read City of Refuge.
They showed me a city with water for cleaning and drinking.
There was bread in the city to quiet hunger.
If you come without intention, they said, the city will open.
They said, here the avenger cannot enter.
I asked, but how have I come to this city.
They said, better to ask, where are the city’s famed bookstalls.
Many a head has bent over a book and asked many a question.
Who am I to come to this city, I asked, and bowed my head.
Bread on the water, bread on the water, I asked.
Susannah Mintz, White Matter [Nonfiction]
I’m standing in the shower thinking that if I just picked up the phone and called him, we could dispense with so much misunderstanding and tension. Later in the month he emails to say we’re like star-crossed soap opera characters at whom the audience is shouting, Talk to each other already!
Odd thing to read from one’s father. I’m sure he doesn’t write “star-crossed lovers,” but in the chop-shop of my psyche, it seems odd nonetheless.
Every seven years I go on sabbatical and do battle with my demons like a Vulcan going through the pon farr. When winter comes I blame the downward slide on SAD. I am writing a book about bodily pain, a coincidence no one can resist ironizing. But the subject is not depressing. What sours the atmosphere is having the TV on in the background so I won’t feel like the last living person on earth. I wrote that seven years ago. Last night I wrote that I could hear the wind whipsawing through trees in the backyard with my house lit up like an ark in which I resembled no other being.
Perhaps it is because of the silence I am every day resisting that I find myself preoccupied with how much cannot be said between people, the way we skirt what ought to be our most vital subjects. I am fascinated by sitcoms that feature insulting, bickering twosomes whose love for each other is guaranteed by the end of every episode. That kind of free expression seems liberating, even though I’m sure that if I gave into an urge to say even half of what’s on my mind, I’d get sucked into a dark place from which no commercial break would ever extricate me. Anger is the event horizon. We are taught that love means ignoring the minor annoyances. Many small irritations do add up to one gaping black hole of bad feeling. I have been in there, even though physicists say I shouldn’t have been able to get back out.
Interview with Michael Reynolds, Editor of Europa Editions
Odette Heideman: Do you think that [the increased attention work in translation has been getting over the last decade] is related to Europa Editions’ success? Because it’s been ten years since you started here.
Michael Reynolds: That would be self-flattering. I think we have had a considerable impact on the publishing landscape. Publishing is a conservative business. Most publishers are most likely to go after something that has had considerable success, rather than in another direction, and that is the very definition of conservative. So I like to think that maybe The Elegance of the Hedgehog and the Ferrante books and [Alina] Bronsky, who also did very well for us, will contribute to more openness on the part of publishers elsewhere. And likewise with the Scandinavian crime writers, with Knausgaard, with Indonesian writer Eka Kurniawan that New Directions published last year (who wrote Beauty is a Wound—it was a great book). So I hope that that’s the case, I really do—I hope there is more openness.
What I think is happening—and what I think Europa perhaps is contributing to even more—is that publishers are not just looking at the very densely literary works or experimental works that are coming out of foreign markets. They’re also looking at works that enjoy a significant readership, that enjoyed a certain popularity, that were read by people in those countries. That’s always been the kind of book that we are keen on publishing. And I see more publishers looking for those kinds of books. I think that’s a very good thing, because we feel that what we are doing is not only connecting a writer with an American readership, but also connecting readerships. If there is a more significant readership in Germany or France or Italy for a book and we are able to generate a readership in America for that book, the idea that we are somehow creating a bridge between readerships is very appealing to us.
Akiko Hirai, Essays and Ceramic Work
If something (a substance or a drop of water or whatever) is left in outer space, where there is no stimulus, it will form a sphere, because the sphere is the most complete, balanced form. I remember a long time ago a physicist wrote this in an article. If this is so, then nothing can exist in this perfect form in our surrounding environment; except in a single moment of “nothingness,” or in a perfectly conditioned environment of “nothingness,” everything is coexistent.
To me, a balanced form is something imperfect. Of course, not all imperfect forms are balanced. If the form has no trace or imprint of its surrounding events or is forced to form on its own, it becomes off balance.
Wet and/or unfired clay is an undetermined condition. It absorbs all the information from its surrounding environment. It absorbs all the information, such as heat, motions, and even my emotions. What I am trying to look at in my work is this balance.
In addition, the scientist said, “There is no straight line in our natural world.”