Midwestern Gothic: Issue 14 Editor’s Commentary

Midwestern Gothic Summer 2014 Issue 14
The Summer Issue of Midwestern Gothic took shape over the course of the last three months. When I take a step back and think about the process of the journal literally going from nothing more than changing a button on our submissions page to an actual book, it’s actually pretty insane to think about. Per usual, the submissions we got are top notch, and every period we turn away more and more that we genuinely like. A good problem to have, I think.

One of my favorites from this issue was something a little more contemporary, Jessie Ann Foley’s “The Day of New Things.” The story follows a corrupt politician’s daughter around the city after her father is sentenced to 150 years in federal prison. Outside of Illinois, it might seem far-fetched, but I think three of the last four Illinoisan governor’s were incarcerated. Pat Quinn – you need to be on good behavior. Part of what I love about this story is how it looks at how social media and news cycles completely break down and erode layers of privacy, something that is very uncomfortable for a Midwesterner. Even one as young as the main character, Sandy. Still though, she manages to find moments of peace, these beautiful moments of solitude as the world swirls around her. Here’s an excerpt:

“Hey, Twitter Stalker,” she said, brushing her hand against his bare arm. “Trade you some tequila for a cig?”
Kenzie was such a child of the digital age that even her spoken words were like text messages: the tone was impossible to interpret. Michael didn’t seem to even notice that she’d just insulted him. The two girls shuffled into the line behind him and his two friends.

“These are my buddies, Jordan and Aidan,” Michael said, handing Kenzie a cigarette and trying with all his might not to stare at her impressively cleaved chest. “This is Kenzie Hernandez and—uh—sorry, what’s your name?“ He looked at Sandy.

“This is Sandy Boychuck,” Kenzie said, before Sandy could warn her not to reveal her last name. Jordan and Aidan, who wore flat-brimmed hats just like Michael’s, looked up from their phones. One of them, with reddish hair that was almost iridescent in the setting sun, squinted at her.

“Wait, Boychuck like the cop guy?”

Sandy said nothing, but straightened up her shoulders and stared at the boy evenly. It was the hard-assed look of a cop’s daughter, daring him to continue his line of questioning. He didn’t, but his finger trembled over his phone screen. She could see that he was just waiting for her to walk away so that he could tweet it out into the all-seeing world:

Holy shit hanging out with Boychuck’s daughter yes THAT Boychuck #150years

Inside the DizzyVision show was like being at a high school dance, except with better music and more drugs. No one there was old enough to buy a beer in the bar area, but everyone had arrived either already drunk or rolling. A relentless light and fog show intensified the effect of the tequila-Gatorade mixture, and Sandy caught the white of Kenzie’s eye, the flash of Michael’s fake diamond earring, before losing them to the anonymous thumping crowd. The two Brazilian DJs stood in the middle of the stage, crouched over their turntables like monks huddled in prayer. The beats they produced were so deafening that it was hard for Sandy to think or breathe or move. She hadn’t eaten anything since the ham sandwich on her lunch break, and the tequila sloshed in her empty stomach. She stumbled up the stairs, chased by the whoomp of the music and the jagged motion of the lights, and found the women’s bathroom just in time to spray a toilet seat and part of the toilet paper holder with a green jet of puke. Her body purged of the spiked Gatorade, Sandy felt better immediately. She wiped her mouth at the mirror, feigning innocence when a girl in a turquoise wig walked into the bathroom and proclaimed, “Um, someone just effing vommed in here.” Sandy fluffed her hair, folded a stick of gum into her mouth, and walked out of the bathroom and straight into Darry’s chest.

Buy a copy of Midwestern Gothic : Summer 2014 – Issue 14 for the rest of the story and many others inspired by the Midwest.