Monday, August 24, 2009


when you manage a quarterly journal, there are certain things you must do. here’s the business of acquiring and editing pieces, the glamor of email and conference calls, and the madness of deadlines and missing persons. there’s also the matter of finding funding so you can pay your writers and staff and generally stay afloat, if you’re into that kind of thing.

and then there’s the issue introduction, the editor’s preface, or the editorial statement—call it what you will, but someone must write something that sets the tone for the issue.

it must be catchy and yet reflective. it must make readers swoon, stir their tea with intrigue and delight, keep reading. and it must be left to the very last moment.

at some publications with which i’m familiar, this means an essayist of considerable means will sequester himself in a hotel room, order room service and some smokes, and then emerge last-minute with perfect, shining prose.

i assume that, give or take the hotel food, this is pretty standard practice among literary quarterlies. but at the other journal, we strive to ever greater lengths of editorial chaos. we have no go-to-girl, no pre-appointed all-star ready to tap the keys in the last hour. in past issues, our introductions have been written by our editor-in-chief, our managing editor (me), and even a team effort crafted by our entire staff.

and as usual, in the last hours before the launch of our latest issue, a great question mark hovered over the world. would we have an introduction? who would write it? what would it say?

it turned out that, no, we would we not have an introduction—we would instead have two introductions, and they would say very different things.

you can find the one introduction to save all introductions here. It was selected because it better addresses our vision of what we hope to say in this issue, because it clearly frames a touchy topic, race, in the context of theology and life in america.

in contrast, the unused version, my version, is patched together from some flailing metaphors that hope to disguise my cluelessness concerning race and how it pertains to these questions of life and theology.

still, there must be a place for andrew's racey rubble. oh, right, this blog

photo: andrew david. "the fog and introduction." logan pass, glacier national park.


Andi said...

Hi, Andrew.

How are you? You're absolutely right. Introductions are very important. You can loose readers, if it doesn’t address them.
The introduction and conclusion in a dissertation (for example) is more or less the only thing what will be read.

Greetings from Switzerland