Richard Hoffman

Nonfiction Editor’s Note

First off, congratulations to our contest winner in nonfiction, Megan Baxter, for her essay “Live Find” and to runner-up Judith Padow, for “Broken.”

We are extremely fortunate to have had Phillip Lopate as our judge this year. Lopate is considered by many to be among our most important essayists, as well as the editor credited with the resurgence of interest in the personal essay, especially in the United States. Along with his many books — novels, essay collections, poetry, memoir — his critical anthology The Art of the Personal Essay has been a staple in university classrooms for more than twenty years.

The issue also includes our Editor’s Picks, “The Gleaming Miraculous” by Magin LaSov Gregg, “Mi Piel Moreno and I Went to England” by Adriana Paramo, and “Distanced Daughter: Reflections on Standing Rock” by Susanna Vander Vorste. Other nonfiction in this issue includes former Solstice nonfiction prize winner Michelle Blake’s “Sonny” as our Featured Essay, Gail Hosking’s moving observation of a military family, “Come Home in Glory,” and Michelle Cacho-Negrete’s stunning short essay, “When I Was Dying.”

Sometimes, although we do not announce themed issues, the work we receive seems to constellate itself as if we did. The essays here remind us that we are born into families and grow into complex shapes made by their memories and vacancies, aspirations and regrets. We are given roles to play, we are strengthened and weakened and tested and tempered by parents and siblings until, ultimately, we must take charge of who we’ve become, accepting, rejecting, mediating, moderating, sometimes transforming or transcending our inheritance. The essayists in this issue have taken up the challenge to interrogate this process with courage, honesty, and abundant artistry.

We’re also pleased to include two interviews with nonfiction writers. Richard Cambridge interviews Baron Wormser about his far-reaching essay collection exploring the 20th century, Legends of the Slow Explosion, which contains his essay “Hannah Arendt in New York,” published here in Solstice and chosen by Hilton Als for Best American Essays 2018. And Melanie Brooks interviews the remarkable Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich about her Lambda Award winning book, The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir.

I have said this before but I believe it bears repeating: being a writer can be a lonely business. Much of the time you don’t know if anyone is even reading your work beyond the editors of the journal it appears in. So, please, if you are stirred, challenged, prompted, inspired, or otherwise moved by a particular essay or interview here, the comment box is the perfect way to let the author and editors know. And, in this age of social media, please feel free to share whatever nourishment and sustenance you find here.

Thanks, and happy reading.

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