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Foreword Now sixty-some years past, the Great Depression still flickers like a shorted neon "Danger" in the back of America's mind—danger because it reminds us that our wealth is fragile, danger because it makes us mindful ofhow perilous the world is, with dozens ofnational economies in worse condition even than ours was during this legendary hard time. This issue's history-as-literature feature affords a firsthand account of one family's experience during the Depression—Wayne Holmes' memoir of his childhood. His family emigrated in a long journey by wagon from Kansas to the Ozarks, which by the '30s was already in an economic shambles. Living for a while in a tent, they were in circumstances more straitened than many neighbors. Holmes' reminiscence focuses on his parents, a father who fancied himself a shrewd horse trader and a mother who, in order to gain some power and direction, became a preacher. Saying that the cup of tragedy comes around to all of us may be overly dramatic, but certainly most of us have hard times due to one thing or another—illness, loss of income, loss of control (or the sense of control) over our lives. This issue of TMR explores some of the guises in which hard times come, the ways in which people react to them, and the peculiar value that such times can have. Stacia J. N. Decker's essay "Counter Culture: The Hard Work of Selling Myself Short" vividly recounts Decker's stint in retail as a college graduate working for minimum wage in a trendy, busy Washington, D.C., store. The experience was about as much fun for Decker as basic training, but it made her tougher, smarter and more confident. Alisa Slaughter's short story "Moon over Mountain" is set in Oregon in the 1960s, among itinerant farmers living in the enduring depression of the poor and uneducated. In it a grandmother, along with a social worker who has experienced poverty from both sides, consider what to do about a dead four-year-old child. Stephen Byler's sensuous, spooky "Searching for Intruders," the title story of Byler's forthcoming collection, to be published by HarperCollins, features a couple haunted by an uncontrollable danger. In Rich Chiappone's "Old Friend," the lead character's troubles result largely from bad choices in the past, which led to a gambling addiction. He is currently on the wagon from gambling, but his wife has left him, his aging father needs care and always he must wrestle with fantasies of the poker room as the magical place of escape. Many of the characters in these narratives are displaced or have recently moved, like the Alice of Jesse Lee Kercheval's "Alice in Dairyland ," a graduate student who is not happy in Wisconsin. Kris Lackey's "Father White in the Torrid Zone" is the story ofa priest, wrongly accused of molesting a young boy, who's been dispatched to serve the inmates of a Louisiana center for the treatment of leprosy. In this comic tale, the good father, swarmed by fire ants and by fantasies of a previous female parishioner, is eventually ministered to by one of the lepers. Alex Mindt's "Male of the Species" reveals a man in a dilemma worse than being stung by fire ants: He is a science teacher in a small Texas town who feels that he has no choice but to flunk a certain football star—definitely not a good thing to do in Texas. However, the science teacher's scruples, we learn, arise not just from the student's underperformance but also from a far more personal situation. Mary Bucci Bush's "Drowned Edward Tug" is also set in the South—a story about black sharecroppers in Mississippi in the summer of 1904, when rain and severe flooding damaged the cotton crop. The protagonist in Bush's story has to haul a corpse found drowned in a lake, and he contends with his fear by talking to the dead man about the crops, current harsh conditions and the force that brought the dead man down—romantic love. This issue's poetry includes Margo Tamez' impassioned feature about...


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pp. 5-10
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