It’s happening again. It’s Summer in Houston, and everyone is stating the obvious. No less than that first noon blast of molten heat in early June, the never-ending willingness of Houstonians to talk about how hot it is continues to impress me. But the eternal recurrence of conversations about the weather may be a good thing: in this ever-changing world in which we live, there’s something comforting in knowing that the heat will always be with us. At the same time, I wonder if Minnesotans talk this much about snow, and if we could find something else to talk about.
So let’s talk about stories. We’ve been busting our tushies at the Story|Houston offices for the last few months to get y’all a new batch of yarns, and the fruit of those labors is the issue which you see before you. I was surprised to find that the tales our editors had chosen for Issue IX once again share a common theme–we never plan it this way, honestly. You’ll find that these four stories are all about the past, more specifically, those moments of the past that eternally recur in our subconscious. The ghosts that linger, as it were. Issue IX may be the closest Story|Houston has come to publishing a Memoir Issue.
We first break into a sweat with Michael Daley’s “All We Like Sheep,” which initially struck us as a riff on Nabokov’s academic tales with a compulsory school twist, but as we read, we learned that it was more of a meditation on a respected colleague’s outward change of character, and how that respect doesn’t vanish when that colleague adopts fringe behaviors and views. At least, that’s what I think–this is one of the more nuanced pieces we’ve published.
Catherine Brereton’s “Elegy” is also about school days, but flips the phantasms of the past into more physical bruises. Reading this story gave me a feeling of false nostalgia for institutionalized corporal punishment. Oh, for the days when classmates would bond over having their rumps slapped senseless by sports implements. Ms. Brereton–you really took us back.
When it comes to reminiscences of the past, Anabel Graff’s “The Homeless Ones” veers closer to the Gothic tradition. This story’s uncanny vibe reminded us of Henry James’s The Turn of the Screw and had some insights into the psychology of twins that really impressed us. Keep an eye on Ms. Graff.
Of these four, Christian Winn’s “We Came South” features the most clear use of the ghost image. This one will make you reflect on those moments that won’t go away, so maybe it’s a good one to save for last.
And that should bring us to a full boil. We’d like to give extra special thanks to Lucy Bonner, who took on all story illustration duties for this issue and helped lend a thematic unity to the proceedings, and to our longtime cover illustrator Matt Boelsche, who just seems to get better and better. It’s a pretty hot issue, if you ask me. But let’s be honest: Houston doesn’t need to get any hotter.
Co-Founder and Editor