I have several books, printed in the mid-40s, that bear a small note on the opening page: About the Appearance of Books in Wartime. To conserve materials and manpower in line with War Production Board regulations, the books were printed with light-weight paper, small margins, and cheap bindings. They are small and physically light, these books, and light in subject matter as well. Literature is often touted as being an agent for social change, a scythe that lays bare our cultural flaws. What has been forgotten until recently is that great writing can also be an uplifting force, something that, in times of war or upheaval, can take our minds off realities too close at hand and remind us that, after all, life is a worthwhile venture.
Our Winter issue contains no allusions to military tribunals, fanatics hiding in caves, or mailed anthrax spores. Instead we have “The Usual” from Braxton Younts, our writer in Seattle; a pair of delightfully sensual poems from Shelly Reed; and another “fictional essay” from Judd Spicer, this time a parody of the Minnesota Twins fiasco. And Weston Cutter returns with a strange piece of fiction involving alarm clocks, as well as a poem which suggests Mr. Cutter may be spending a bit too much time at the bar. A pair of international writers have also been brought on board—Tom Brennan of Liverpool gives us a pub story (No! A pub story from an Englishman?) and Italian poet Maria Cinanni graces our pages with verses filled with the warmth and lyricism of her native country.
My thanks to all the writers who contributed in our first year here at Whistling Shade, and also to Robert Wozniak (our patient webmaster) and Andrew and Nadja Ryan (photographers at large). And lastly, to our readers—a toast to the holidays. We’ll see you again in the spring.
- Joel Van Valin