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Foreword As editors, we sometimes feel like we're riding around in a limousine in which the smoked glass has been installed backward. Where are we going? Who's out there? We can't see you. Partly because of that occupational myopia, we initiated the Missouri Review Preternatural Readers' Response contest, asking people to describe their peak reading experiences. Do the civilians out there, reading on their own time, for no academic or profit-related reasons, in fact have such experiences? I am happy to report they do, although the responses we received, from all over the country, indicate that people see a reader's high in quite different ways than I had expected. Some answered with descriptions ofparticular moments in reading. Jennifer Morrison describes an event in which the text before her seemed so correct and accurate that it was like an experience of déjà vu: "Even though you've never read it before you know it's saying exactly what it should be saying, and there for an instant you have become the final link with this absolutely right combination of subject and word choice, and the one simple desire you have is to share it." Morrison believes that such moments are fleeting, rare, and seldom can be shared, despite the urge to do~80. Surprisingly few readers described "large" reading events—nothing on the order of a "spot of time" or an epiphany. Indeed, if this little survey is at all representative, one would have to conclude that for most people the most memorable reading moments are quiet events, deriving from a brief passage, which the author may not even have intended to possess great significance. Lester Goldberg writes of such a moment in which a passage struck home because it answered a question in his own distant past: "I was reading Alice Munro's The Beggar Maid, when I came across, 'Patrick had a trick—no it was not a trick, Patrick had no tricks— Patrick had a way of expressing surprise, fairly scornful surprise, when people did not know something he knew, and similar scorn, similar surprise, whenever they had bothered to know something he did not. His arrogance and humility were both oddly exaggerated . The arrogance, Rose decided in time, must come from being rich. . . / "I experienced a shock of recognition. During World War II, Jamison, a young man, nineteen years old, in the bunk above mine always seemed to be one step ahead of me. I tried to figure out why he had this edge. I was better looking, stronger, and just as bright. I finally understood that Jamison never worried about being out of place or doing the wrong thing. His parents were rich." Others talked about the solace, in rough times, that can be had from reading. Karol Ann Greeson describes reading an essay by Carrie Young, "The Education of a Family" (MR, 10/2), as "almost a healing because I am alone and a bit fearful since losing my job as a congressional aide when my boss lost his election. Carrie Young's story took me back to my childhood in Missouri. We were a family of farmers and teachers who valued learning above all, except perhaps laughter and hard work." A number of readers surprised us by sending critiques of this magazine, which quite aside from the readers' response contest, we found fascinating. Such detailed responses are more nurturing to editors than mere "good strokes." We have chosen three co-winners of the contest and printed them together in this issue. If there is a common theme to the winners, it is that particular moments in reading are less important than the ongoing interests and commitments that take nourishment from reading. Gerry Sloan describes a reading philosophy shared by him and his wife, who have dedicated themselves to "the ongoing experiment of raising our three kids (ages 16, 14, and 10) with no TV." Julia Copeland's "Mary McCarthy, On the Contrary," is a chatty, gossipy, quite personal description of how Copeland came to care about Mary McCarthy's essays, after having met the author in an inauspicious social encounter. The third co-winner is Judith Berke, whose...


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