This month I am delighted to be publishing several fictions by my friend and editor, Greta Ode, together with some pieces of my own. We chose the title Apocrypha because while each text here relates to a famous work, author or genre of the past, none is a true antique. They are our creations, written out of our lifelong engagement with literature and our conviction that storytelling always matters—even, and perhaps especially, in times of crisis like our own.
I am not, as a rule, a fan of what is called “realistic fiction.” My own tastes, and my writing, run more to the speculative or sensational. In Greta’s oeuvre, however, I find a realism so deep and nuanced that it satisfies the reader’s longing to be fascinated, puzzled, intrigued, or aghast. Her realism is not a style, but an ontological quest: she writes to explore what is real, what actually happens in this world of ours, both at the level of physical objects and processes and in the movements and events that take place in minds and hearts. We can travel with her to the Old West, medieval England, or the Asia of Genghis Khan, and meet there characters who are strange and novel and yet who, as we come to know them, make complete sense. Whether she surrounds us with richly meticulous historical details of her setting, as in “Desert Moon,” or pares things down to the bleak atmospherics of “Cold Truths,” the emotional reality she conveys to us is always surprising, even as it rings true. In short, Greta’s fiction reveals.
I am especially pleased that this issue includes an excerpt from Greta’s reboot of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Scarlet Letter, which has the working title Missing Pearl. Slated for release later this year from Tandeta Books, this novel will be the pilot in our series of Quantum Classics, books that retell well-known stories with some kind of leap or twist. In this case, Greta asks the question: what if the famous Hester Prynne still had an affair with the minister Dimmesdale, but she didn’t get pregnant (and hence, exposed)? It’s an alternate-timeline exploration that will draw in both new readers and old fans of one of American literature’s greatest works.
Creating an all-literature issue has been a departure for the Tandeta Journal, whose first three issues also included nonfiction essays and commentary as well as visual art. We know that some readers of those previous issues are not people who normally read “just” for pleasure. So we invite you, with this issue, to give it a whirl. Camus called fiction “the lie that tells the truth”; perhaps some bit of our Apocrypha holds a message for you.
Table of Contents
Not Richard Rolle
Not McMurtry, and Not McCarthy
Not Safe for Work