Today it seems absurd to say things like “the way things are,” or “these extraordinary times,” or “in times like these.” There aren’t really “times like these,” there is rather this time, Covid time, which redefines itself from one day to the next. Covid time trumps time generally. Covid time reveals the thin patches and engraves the oddest things. As I write, New York City is being battered by a hailstorm, and now there’s sun.
It might surprise you to know that our theme, Contents May Shift, has been in the works for a year. We were thinking of it first in terms of those pragmatic alerts on cereal boxes. Then we were delighted by the idea that our theme would accommodate anything, as long as it surprised. And then, as this long spring settled into global upheaval, we thought “how clever of us.”
But we didn’t really know in January what the next six months would bring. We couldn’t have.
TLR is, like the world, for the moment transformed. Perhaps the only thing that hasn’t shifted at this point, are our contents. The writing that makes up Contents May Shift is beautiful, is surprising, and is outside of Covid time in so many respects.
J. Robert Lennon writes of overgrown rose bushes and his grandmother’s funeral. Mira Rosenthal translates a lilting Polish poem about marriage and murder. Brandon Taylor is disturbing and enchanting in his story about desire and isolation (that brutal paradigm). Which must be on people’s minds, because Stephanie Bernhard has a totally different take on the same subject. There are kidnappers and magic boats, dystopian nurses, and drunks. Everything you’d expect from TLR… in a slightly different package. Because contents may shift and because, you know, Covid.
For the near future, we’re going virtual. The next few issues of TLR will be delivered online as web series, starting with this one. The work is free to all. We hope you read and enjoy and share.