You have no items in your cart. Want to get some nice things?Go shopping
The festive season is upon us again: a month of tinsel, baubles, fake Santa beards and contrived TV specials. Whatever you’re celebrating this year – Christmas, Hanukkah or Thanksgiving – the winter is a time to turn back to our hearths, to gather our loved ones about us and remember the bonds of family. If that also involves consuming uncomfortable quantities of food and drink, then all the better. They say that blood is thicker than water – as winter pulls its shroud around us, our blood runs thicker than ever.
In this month’s submissions, the focus is firmly on the bloodier side of family ties. Family isn’t always a comforting safety net to fall back on – it can be an unwelcome duty too, even a doorway to neglect. As the year draws to a close there’s an aura of loss that surrounds many of these stories. This is a collection of familial failures and tearful farewells. That it also contains nuggets of warmth and affection shows just how tangled the family bond can be.
In Laura McKenna’s Cable the narrator is forced to reconsider her mental image of her younger brother, when he springs a surprise on her during a walking holiday. Jesmyn Ward’s Baby Love takes a darker path, allowing us a glimpse into the impoverished rural areas of America, and the harsh realities of the families that live there. Ward is a previous National Book Award winner, and her story is a study in economy and atmosphere. Rebecca Swirsky’s Hotline to Almighty is similarly bleak, but leavened with humour and insight, as it examines the fractured familial relationships in the wake of a child’s death.
In Last Great Blizzard, David Ford traces the lines of damage and regret between a mother and daughter, as two winter storms grip New York during the early Sixties and the Nineties. Theresa Coulter’s Safe Keeping is a short literary prayer for her brother’s health, a plea that’s as earnest and heartbreaking as it is funny. Then Holly Corfield Carr explores the helplessness surrounding parental illness in and one last time, from the heart, a story that finds its own unique poetry in the “scribbles of wire filaments” that keep their mother alive. Finally, we chat to Matt Haig, author of The Radleys and The Humans, about the importance of family in his work and in his life.
Personally, I’ll be spending this winter surrounded by a new family. This is my first issue as Magazine Editor, and I thank Andrew Lloyd-Jones for his wonderful work in the role over the last few years. As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, I sit around the fire with my new Litro brothers and sisters, and we raise a glass to your good health. May the festive season bring everything that you want. We’ll see you in 2014.