A Carnival of Magic, Mystery and Loss: Our Summer 2012 Issue Is Here

Today we publish our summer 2012 issue, featuring 3 new short stories and a beautiful new cover by Italian photographer Alessandra Toninello. The featured stories are:

The three stories are loosely connected by a carnival-esque feel of magic, mystery, and loss. We didn’t plan to have a “themed” issue, and I hesitate to even call it that. But after selecting “Carnival” in March and then the cover the following month, the other two stories seemed to fall into place and join the theme.

Carnival” is a short piece, opening with a man alone at a carnival who attempts to help a young girl win a goldfish prize. We can’t help but watch their interactions uneasily; after all, this man hasn’t exactly made clear his intentions. But as the story unfolds, there are subtle hints that reveal more about the man’s past, and we begin to understand the loss he’s endured and the mystery that haunts him. Atkinson writes in a beautiful minimalist style that still manages to pack an emotional wallop. This is his first fiction publication.

In “The Eternal Youth of Everyone Else” we meet Bendida, a nine-year-old girl who has somehow, magically, never aged. We also meet Jessie, her cousin-like companion that continues to harbor a deep love, compassion, and fascination for Bendida even as she herself grows older. This is a longer but intricately woven piece that explores questions to which there are no easy answers—is the idea of eternal youth as glamorous as it seems? How does one actually live if one never ages? The chilling and visceral ending will leave you wanting more. Celt has crafted a tantalizing work of magic.

Our final story, “Hurricane Emily,” spins us through a flurry of vignettes and emotions as told by the best friend of Emily. The gal pals for life have grown up, and Emily is married—but that’s not the problem. What’s rifting the two apart is Emily’s struggle with a myriad of clinically-diagnosed personality disorders. Her best friend is trying to help as much as she can, but the episodes are taking a toll on her too. Eberly’s story is in a minimalist style that’s a nod to early Amy Hempel stories, including “In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson is Buried.” But this is truly Eberly’s work, darker, frenetic, and painfully honest. (There’s also no denying this story would’ve made a great entry in the 2013 Esoteric Awards, but we hadn’t announced the Natural Disaster theme before Eberly submitted the piece.)

Lastly, we feature our beautiful cover from Alessandra Toninello which ties our stories together in a fitting way. The merry-go-round of horses brings to mind “Carnival.” The sea-green hair of the girl holding the carousel echoes the namesake of “Hurricane Emily.” And while the girl seems to be a child, at closer glance we can see a tattoo on the inside of her arm, reminding us that appearances can be deceiving, as they are in “The Eternal Youth of Everyone Else.”

And did you notice that there are only three horses, just as there are three stories? A small detail, perhaps, but fitting all the same. It’s rare that an issue’s stories and photo come together in such a synchronous way. I can’t help but feel a bit of magic pulled this issue together too.

Each story in our summer 2012 issue is free to read, comment, and share. We hope you enjoy.