Sunday, May 15, 2005

Obsess Much?

If Friday the 13th is a day when t.v. shows die, Saturday the 14th must be the day literary mags are born. At least in my house, because yesterday I received the newest issues of both Tin House and Conjunctions in the mail. Both are theme issues, and both are themes near and dear to my hearts.

Conjunctions is subtitled An Anatomy of Roads: The Quest Issue. Quests, despite the bad connotations to contemporary fantasy, have a long tradition stretching back at least as far as the Gilgamesh epic. I know it's an old truism taught in every high school English class, but I've always liked the idea of journey changing someone beyond the simple goals of inherent in the destination. Everytime I start out on a road trip I always wonder what things I'll find that I never expected. I'm curious to see what writers like Robert Coover and Rikki Ducornet have to say on the subject.

Tin House, though, might be even more interesting. It's theme this time around is obsession, something that artists of all kinds can appreciate. In my own writing, I know something's not working if I'm obsessed with some aspect of the story. It could be a character, an event, a physical detail, research...any number of things. My latest research obsession life in ancient Celtic societies, and I know someday I'll work Curious George into a story. I'm way too fond of that little guy not to use him in something. Anyway, the issue takes fiction, poetry and non-fiction and looks at obsessions as divergent as bugs, the smell of jasmine and dressing up like Peter Pan. I will probably start with it, because it should tie in nicely when I go up to Philly to see the retrospective for Salvador Dali---a man obsessed with many things, including with examining his reasons for his obsessions.


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