That made it that much more poignant when Seth Lindberg sent me “The Brother Who is Actually Okay.” I’d known Seth for years, since back in the Gothic.Net days. We’d been in a writing group together and I admired the succinct way he could dissect a story. I’d read his fiction, but I wasn’t at all familiar with his nonfiction, so I hadn’t hit him up for an essay for Morbid Curiosity. I had no idea he’d grown up with a sister who was profoundly affected by Down’s Syndrome. There are so many levels to the story that the onion metaphor doesn’t go far enough. Seth manages to create empathy for all the members of his family in a beautiful, sad, deeply touching way. It made him a hard act to follow.
Bryan Marchese I knew because my husband had released some music by Bryan’s band Crash Worship back when we ran the Charnel Music label. Bryan and I had spoken at shows, but I probably couldn’t have picked him out of a lineup. So I was amazed when he sent me “A Week in Hell” about living in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He was trained as a medic, so he did what he could to help people, but as his story unfolds, his words are incandescent with fury: at the feds, at the cops, at the looters. The tension spirals until you are so glad that Bryan finally escapes that you want to turn on all the lights and stand in front of the fridge just because you can. Which is not to trivialize the story at all: you just can’t help but be grateful for the things we take for granted every day.
Seth Flagsberg and I were in a writing class together. I knew he was a lawyer, but I had no idea he’d defended murderers until he sent me “Brain Salad Surgery,” about a man who’d killed his business partner with a ball-peen hammer — and saw absolutely nothing wrong with that. The solution Seth comes to makes perfect sense, but it’s impossible to see it coming.
The three essays could not have been more different, but they were among the best I ever published in the magazine. I could not have been prouder of being chosen to publish them.