Editor’s Note--The Familiar Blip
Blood Orange Review 4.2

Last week at the local Goodwill, I found an old AIWA stereo that plays compact discs and cassette tapes. It was equipped with a speaker and a red and black wire that one would have to manually attach the speaker to the outlet in the back of the stereo. The speaker box was large, the size of a small filing cabinet, but probably weighed less than three pounds. I inspected the tag where someone had scribbled ten dollars in a blue sharpie. I inquired from one of the workers if the stereo worked. She smiled strangely—insultingly—and said yes. I smiled back, thinking sold.

I was ten and living in Great Falls, Montana, when my parents bought me my first tape recorder. I still have some of the “blank” tapes used to record songs played through the local radio station: KMON 94.5 (now a country station). After purchasing a “new” stereo two decades later, I raced back to the house giddy with anticipation of listening to those old tapes, remembering the awkwardness of my five brothers and sisters and I, jerking our knees and our elbows in dance, wearing bright t-shirts that clashed with our homemade summer jams, listening to the 80’s and the echo of the DJ’s voice.

Once home I set up the stereo and speaker, unzipped the dusty cassette case, and took out a warped tape labeled radio nation 94.5. I inserted the tape, pressed play, and instantly recognized the alternating bass drum, hand claps, and chant we will, we will rock you. Ah, Queen, I thought.

Then as I was about to press forward, I heard something else, a familiar blip, a static rustling just before the guitar solo. A shiver ran down my back.

How many times had I heard that exact sound? A hundred? A thousand? It was a recording error, an effect created by someone bumping into the player. But I remembered it as something more, a part of my childhood, a sound so natural I would be deceived by the clean, “error free” version later in life. It’s a sound that represents the sensation of time. I feel that sensation as I write of it now. In my mind’s eye I see my brothers smashing into each other on the green sofa. I hear my sisters’ off-key imitation of Freddie Mercury. I smell baked bread from the kitchen.

Writers commonly ask what we look for when reading submissions and I don’t think Stephanie, Heather, or I have ever come up with a concrete answer. Certainly there is more to the decision making process than what I’ve written here. We like language that feels appropriate to the subject, we like strong description, and we like to sense that writers know what they’re doing. Every once in a while we find a strong piece of writing with a line or a sentence that creates a powerful, pleasurable shudder, a sensation similar to the recollection of something long forgotten.

In short, our hope is to find work that stirs our readers much like the work that stirred us in this issue: the anaphoric lines and powerful simile in Lafayette Wattles’s “What She’s Become” and the emotional weight of juggling fruit and music in Tabitha Dial’s “From 40 Variations of Citrus.” In David Thacker’s “Hailstorm,” I experienced a small shiver when an old man whispers to the glass after watching boys gather icy dew in their mitts.

If I may steal Colin Pope’s line from “On the Disappearance of Bees, Spring 2009,” we like to find work that makes the hair stand on end as if it will fly right into space.

Bryan Fry, editor
Blood Orange Review

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

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