River Teeth Print Journal

Editor’s Notes 9.1

Fall 2007

By Joe Mackall

What I love about nonfiction writers—writers in general, really—is that the subject being written about almost never matters. What matters is the treatment of that subject. Although I wrote about addiction and depression in my memoir, people still want to hire me; they still want to be my friend. We know that no subject is taboo. Just recollect a few of the memoirs written in the last two decades and my point will be made. Subject matter is given a free pass. Not all professions are as forgiving.

The diversity of subjects in this issue of River Teeth reminds us that all a nonfiction writer needs to do is cast the light of her talent and vision on a subject for that subject to come alive for a reader. Among other things, Diana Joseph writes about an unfortunate friend in her piece “It’s Me. It’s Him. It’s Them.”: “It may just be me. I worry that my friend Andrew Boyle is a pervert even if he doesn’t hang fuzzy dice from the rearview mirror of a sleekly black Pontiac Trans Am.” Dustin Beall Smith evokes the words of Chief Seattle spoken in 1854 in his piece “The Invisible Dead.” “You are not a slut” is the sentence that opens Margaret MacInnis’s essay “No,” about a time in her life when she questioned her behavior and wondered how she let herself get involved with a married man: “And you struggle with the sin of it. You actually believe in God. You believe that people have souls.” Tom Montgomery-Fate evokes Henry David Thoreau as these men, writer then and writer now, attempt “to box the wind,” and Lisa Ohlen Harris illuminates the time when “moons shall wax and wane no more.” Joanna Robinson, in a moment in history rife with border disputes, writes of the most fundamental border, that of our skin. In “Man in a Blue Shirt,” Roger Sheffer tells the story of the time he was accused of murder. Steve Kistulentz believes everybody is as obsessed with punk rock and The Romantics as he is. I’m not, but I could not stop reading “Feels Like Detroit.” And William Giraldi regales us with his time growing up with Axl Rose as model and muse. Axl does nothing for me, but the subject, as I’ve said, never matters. What I cared about as a reader was Giraldi’s story about the role of Rose in his life. This issue ends with an interview with Scott Russell Sanders conducted by Patrick Madden and his students at BYU.

I would also like to note here that Brandon Schrand’s memoir, The Enders Hotel, has won this year’s River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Book Prize. It will be published in spring 2008.

Finally, we’re announcing that River Teeth will cease accepting submissions until August 2008. At that time the journal will begin accepting electronic submissions only. We at River Teeth have always prided ourselves in giving each and every piece a thoughtful and careful read, while at the same time responding to writers in a timely manner. Lately we’ve been falling behind.

We will use these next months to catch up on our reading and to begin the switch to electronic submissions.

Please bear with us as we make this change. We value our readers and our writers above all else, and we don’t want to do any less than our best.

Thank you.

—JM

 

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