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Foreword "Rap music?" I said to the young editor who handed me the manuscript. "Did you say rap music?" "Yes," she said, "It's a reaUy good essay." "I'm sure it's interesting," I said dimly. "TU certainly. . .read it." As she left the office, I thought of how often I had been at a quiet place gazing peacefuUy at a scene—geese in a park pond, say— and been jarred from my contemplation by a heckUng, pounding, scratchy noise coming out of a boom box being carried by some smug teenager, whose sole purpose was obviously to walk around giving headaches to inteUigent Ufe forms. No, rap music was not a likely topic. But the truth was that I knew close to nothing about it, and on the theory that any art form that Jesse Helms hates may have more to it than meets the ear, I did read the essay. I won't go on about my response, except to say that David Foster WaUace and Mark Costello's "Signifying Rappers" deserves some kind of award for the way in which it penetrates the cloud of unknowing surrounding this popular but scorned music. Richard Selzer's essay "Crematorium" meditates on one man's Ufelong ritual of acceptance regarding death; and Diana Hume George's "Wounded Chevy at Wounded Knee" explores in a fresh way another kind of acceptance—of the terrible imperfection of one's own past relationships. The fiction in this issue includes Scott Lasser7s story about a parvenu in big-city real estate, Tom Zigal's romp with a worn-out writer near the end ofhis careeras writing-conference hopper, and BiU Meissne/s nostalgic tale of a group of teenage boys with a summer job in the unlikUest of places, an explosives plant. Kay Bonetti's interview of Edmund White deserves an award, too, as long as we're giving them out. White's novels include, among others, A Boy's Own Story, The Beautiful Room Is Empty, and Nocturnes for the King of Naples. As a noveUst Edmund White is far less known in this country than he deserves to be—and, we predict, wUl be— and as a conversationaUst he is splendid. A note to our readers: In the future, the Missouri Review wiU be renewing its commitment to poetry by featuring longer selections of poetry by fewer individual poets. Our ambition is to present more substantial and memorable selections of each voice. SM "Don't be shy, McGiIHs... You know I've always insisted on an open door policy around here!" ...


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