Alexander Chee’s essay, taken from a new edition of Dracula in bookstores this week, takes the myth and the monster more seriously than, surely, many of us have. Among his considerations, he writes, were “the many ways we can write about evil, as it seemed to me that there was so much evil to write about, and we lacked the tools to do so. And Horror is always here. Horror is here to say, ‘Oh hey, the monster,’ when no one else seems prepared to say ‘monster.’ Horror becomes the truth-teller.”
In this issue, we don’t overtly dabble in the genre of horror, but we do aim to sharpen those tools.
In “The Protagonist Is Never in Control,” Emily Fox Kaplan explores the power of narrative to both pronounce and denounce the monstrous. Her essay remembers “the bad man” of her childhood, overcoming his power in her memories with the power of her narration. “The same story,” Kaplan realizes, “can be told as a horror story or a fairy tale, depending on the choices of the author.” For her, the power of that choice is the beginning of truth-telling.
Suhit Bombaywala’s short story, “The Rebellion,” portrays subtly monstrous men — rigid fathers, stern cousins, and an ominous unnamed force trying to refashion history so that it makes monsters of others. His protagonist, fortified by a love of comic books, defends himself with fantasy — with his refusal, in his stories or in his life, to give into the demand that “you have to make sense.”
And Mandy Moe Pwint Tu’s poem, “Histories,” witnesses the monstrous without naming the monsters, deploying poetic detail simultaneously delicate and grotesque.
—Jina Moore Ngarambe