Green Hills Literary Lantern



Preface to Volume XXVII



At the writing – at the very instant of this writing – a wrenching report on the most recent shootings of unarmed black men by police is being interrupted by horrified and horrifying bulletins on snipers shooting police officers during protests of those very shootings.

Yes, that’s a rather convoluted description. 

Twitter and Facebook, which mere moments ago were active with condemnations of violence by police, against black people, have reversed polarity, in literally seconds.

People will stay up all night, taking in the “breaking news.” It’s somewhere between the impulse to crane your neck at an accident and the honorable recognition that these are genuinely important events, and a citizen is expected to keep informed. Less acutely destructive but equally volatile, the weirdest election in our history is also slowly suppurating before us, and exercising the morally compromised and compromising fascination of a freakshow.

You could blame digital media and the 24/7 news-cycle, but really, Thoreau told us long ago that what passes for news is merely gossip.

What you have before you now, on the other hand, is an alternative to the presumptive value of the immediate, the this-just-in, the breaking story. The reason we still produce GHLL is, there must be an alternative. There must be a way of dealing with human experience that does not depend mainly on shocking and re-shocking a long-numbed audience with ever more extreme accounts of ever greater outrages, lining us up in thems-and-usses, decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

Emotion recollected in tranquility.

Maureen Tolman Flannery waits a half century to revisit and ruminate at the site of a house-fire. Marjorie Power takes the long view of a long life together, in a treatment both intimate and steely-eyed. The ultimate slowdance of poetry, the elegy, takes a sardonic turn in Jean Esteve’s almost anthropological view of widows. And Edward H. Garcia meditates on mortality, as we all must. Please do not compare Henry Goldkamp’s verse to Grace Marie Grafton’s.

In a memoir, John Ballantine tries to make sense of an outrage that shaped his life, and his sister’s, even before they were born. As always, we have outstanding fiction – I do not think anyone, anyone anywhere, writes of the fifties with the immediacy Karl Harshbarger always achieves. E.K. Allaire and Florina Enache take us to worlds of pain, gone but not.Rudy Melena’s occupation of the juvenile voice and perception is in a league with Faulkner. He was the one who said “the past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

There is joy, too. We’ll see the occasional warm-hearted feature on the noise-box, but it has only the effect (and probably the intent) of throwing the clacking of  the outrage-engine into yet greater relief. Enjoy some peach Kuchen, a slow-growing orange. Listen to the bullfrogs at the pond on a summer night. Stephen King – of all people – said “Happiness is also inevitable.”