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America, that slippery beast. One nation, one constitution, one currency: a framework for arguably the most diverse, remarkable and undefinable country in the world. But short stories are something of an American specialty; in 1962 Frank O’Connor described them as America’s national art form, and the roll call—from Cheever, Carver, and Yates to Yiyun Li, ZZ Packer, and Jhumpa Lahiri—is as much an illustration of the changing American imagination as anything else.
Like that relentless metamorphosis, this issue is crafted to take you off course to territories new and unexplored, both on and off the road. We wanted this vast, complex, hybrid nation to be represented through its songwriters, short story writers, and Fred Voss, the American Bard of factory life who has published three superb poetry collections… in short, its iconoclasts. We’re thrilled to have two new stories from Granta’s Best American Novelists: Jess Row with her elegiac and haunting state-of-the-nation story, “Waterfalls“, and Anthony Doerr with his heartbreaking yet redemptive tale, “Trees“. Simon Felice’s “The Night Ridge” injects a dosage of dreamlike urban lyricism, and we ramble in the Mojave desert with Geoff Nicholson.
Curating a collection of American stories can’t hope to reflect all the possibilities of the country. This little taster is to show glimmers, a few reflections of the myriad complexities that lie beneath. The American short story is in rude health. Long may it continue.
In other news, we’re delighted to welcome Ian Parks as Litro’s new poetry editor (an introduction here), and look forward to bringing more of the best new poetry into the mix for forthcoming issues.