Introduction by Terri Brown-Davidson

          The task was arduous, the possibilities for glory immense as I wended my way through the 500+ fiction submissions for the February 2012 edition of The Pedestal Magazine. I found many competent stories to consider, but—greedy reader that I am—I wanted to fall in love before I made a commitment. Could I find any stories that emanated genius, a particular vision, a glimpse into a vicarious realm? For the first 500 or so submissions I considered, the answer remained “No.”
   
          Then: magic.
 
          Magic in the form of one full-length, breathtaking story and two astonishing pieces of flash fiction.
    
          “Wicked,” a story by Katrina Denza, exceeds my expectations as a reader who wants to feel, to experience, to believe. In this wonderfully ambiguous story, the reader embarks on a journey fraught with the suffering bestowed by hidden secrets, a concealed life, and the black hole of pain the narrator’s parents inhabit, a hole whose gravitational pull is almost too powerful to resist. Yet, as with the very finest fiction, although the sense of realism and heartache here is breathtaking, there’s a sense of hope so subliminal that only the most carefully ardent reader will detect it. Katrina Denza is an astonishingly talented writer, one capable of great fictional sleight-of-hand, of the feat of pulling multiple emotional surprises out of her authorial hat. And her quietly disaffected voice is, initially, deceiving; this is a subtle story in the same way life is subtle, the life that all of us inhabit and only later recall—maybe not until our deathbed—with a sense of its import, mystery, and—yes!—magic. But, despite its more obvious lamentations, “Wicked” is ultimately a story about transformation and, as such, announces, in Denza, an exciting new voice in fiction, one which offers readers a wonderful vision of beauty lurking beneath sadness.
   
          Randall Brown’s pyrotechnical flashes create a striking contrast to Katrina Denza’s gorgeously muted “Wicked.” In “Plumbing” and “The Surreality of the World Rushing By in Reverse,” Brown’s stylistic approach reveals a startlingly different fictional universe, but one ultimately as mesmerizing as Denza’s. Brown performs odd, disjunctive feats with language that I’ve never witnessed in any other writer. But his tours de force are not purely virtuosic; instead, they serve a higher purpose: to supplement and enrich his characters’ odd emotional lexica. In “Plumbing,” the sad and possibly sinister inner life of the man wielding a snake wire intersects with that of an equally odd and lonely woman fascinated by plumbing effluvia; namely, the bucket of sludge the plumber unearths, almost as an ersatz courtship offering. In “The Surreality of the World Rushing by In Reverse” Brown beautifully inhabits the mind and soul of his retrospective narrator as he recalls a tiny but transformative moment in a car and the mother who can’t quite fathom the alien being she’s produced. The “way-back” is Brown’s shrunken Yoknapatawpha, and I rejoice in the possibility of learning more about its inhabitants, as rich and real as the young women who people Denza’s fictional planet. As I finish my editorial duties for this edition of The Pedestal Magazine, one idea emerges more powerfully than any other: in Brown’s poignant fiction and in Denza’s, the reader is both saddened and seduced and, ultimately, won over by voices so memorable I’m certain we’ll encounter them for many years to come.

—Terri Brown-Davidson

 

 

(Photo courtesy of Iver Davidson)


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