Editor's Note - Issue number 2
If you skip this part, I understand
By David Holub, Kugelmass Editor
When sitting down to craft this note (actually I stood up; I do all my writing standing up) I drew a blank. It seemed like I was missing something so I fixed myself a large bowl of a children's cereal that features an enthusiastic cartoon ship captain, thinking it was my ravenousness standing in the way of my twice-a-year editor's note. I ate the entire box (and then its contents) but still had nothing to say. It finally occurred to me and the enthusiastic cartoon ship captain - brought on by a sugar-induced hallucination - that the reason I had no idea what to say in an editor's note was because I had never actually read an editor's note1 and thus had no concept of what one should entail. I've been an avid reader of periodicals since the age of 14 (the year I learned to read silently) and have developed the benign habit of skipping editor's notes, an estimated 758 editor's notes all told.
The bad news is that I fear I am not alone. I mean, you claim to be reading this right now, but I know that, in fact, you are not. What did that last paragraph say? I rest my case. Because why would you read any editor's note, much less this one? No one picks a copy of their favorite periodical for the editor's note. It's not like the contents of the publication aren't always on the preceding page, and do you really need someone to preface the issue, to let you in on the some of the surprises the editor encountered while working on the issue2 , to show you the inner-workings
1Not even the one I wrote for Issue 1. That note was a transcript of me orating in my sleep, scribbled furiously by the captive I keep on hand for such things.
2Actually, there was a huge surprise worthy of this space. I read a blind submission sent to me with no name, publishing history or other pertinent biographical information. I was forced to sit down (I do all my reading standing up), blown sideways by the sophistication of language, thought and humor. I accepted the piece moments after finishing it. Only after did I learn that it was written by the prodigious 15-year-old Daniel Galef, son of Issue 1 contributor and quirkmeister extraordinaire David Galef. Surprisingly, it looks like Old Man Galef might not even be the funniest writer in his own household.
of the process of putting together3 your soon-to-be-favorite issue of your already-favorite periodical4? And it's a periodical for chrissake (your favorite one at that...and the funniest5), the stories and essays and other literary thingamajigs are inherently shortish6. You're saying you need me to summarize them, like you don't have two to twenty minutes to just flip through your favorite periodical and actually read the work that has been cobbled together (edited, if you will) for your amusement?
Some will argue that an editor's note primes the reader for what follows, to more or less sell the readers on that issue's contents, to advertise the value of the work. (1) If we can agree that advertising is the art of getting people to buy things they don't need and to make products sound more essential than they actually are, then I find the requirement of an editor's note to be quite insulting, especially in the pages of this periodical, which you've now said a number of times is your favorite. (2) Unless you are reading this at a bookstore before purchasing7, we've gotten your money; we don't need to sell the journal twice.
3Heartwarming story for Issue 2: I was listening to an episode of The Moth (the storytelling series featuring true stories told live on stage with no notes, hosted by Issue 2's own Dan Kennedy), when Julie Kraut's tale of African travels won me over with its charm and hilariousness. I contacted Julie shortly after and she graciously wrote and contributed the essay "Kosher in Africa," another charming and hilarious account of her time abroad.
4It became apparent that simple categories like "Story" and "Essay" would not suffice for all the pieces in this issue, notably Ben Greenman's piece "There Are Only Eight Kinds of Paragraphs," a poetic work that reads like an essay but is technically fiction...I think.
5Where else can you read a story ("Squeak Toy's by Colin Winnette) that starts with the sentence "When I made the decision to have sex with the dolphin, it was obvious I would have to let the animal initiate" and then somehow manages to stay smart, funny and above the belt?
6With his piece I Believe This Was the End of My Clothing Catalogue Copywriting Job, Dan Kennedy manages to break your heart while making you laugh in three one-page installments.
7And I know that you are not, unless you yourself brought Kugelmass No. 2 into the store with you. And, for the record, distribution is something we're working on. But it's not like you just call up Barnes and Noble and say, "Hey, biggest book chain ever, I've got some copies of this humor journal thing I cobbled together, how about you stock it. I realize there are 56,000 other publications competing for the 63 slots you have at each store, but c'mon, help an editor out. I mean, look at the dazzling lineup we have here: Aimee Bender, Ben Greenman, Yoni Brenner, Ellen Ferguson et al."
OK, I know that sounded a bit smug. I apologize. Please don't cancel your subscription8.
8In fact, you should renew it, or, I don't know, start one. And then tell everyone you know that you couldn't help but subscribe to what is shaping up to be your favorite periodical but not before you purchase a subscription for them for their birthday.