Fiction Editor Emeritus Michael Sarinsky Discusses "Strandings" by George Michelsen Foy
Some silences long to be filled. Others speak for themselves. Jonathan Safran Foer has hanging on his office door a long and calming quote that's escaped me since graduation this past May. Thick white stock paper, an inoffensive font. It's something about silence and it doesn't exist online. Though the internet's ignorance here is no worse than my own: I took three semesters to recognize that the words aren't printed on the paper, but rather hollowed out from it. Little deconstructions forged of emptiness rather than ink. Without realizing it, I was reading the door. George Michelsen Foy's "Strandings," one of his seven contributions to Washington Square Review #38, does something similar. It renders the emptiness and avoids the convenience of having answers.
"Into one such silence," Foy writes, "the phone rang. Putting down the receiver he said, There's been a stranding." So goes our second introduction to the whales, who have been beaching onto Cape Cod at an unusual rate and begin occupying the uncomfortable quiet between Foy's protagonists. We printed a fair number of stories about anonymity in this issue, about losing oneself in a city, in a crowd, in another person. Foy's focus on the canvas rather than the painting, his transferring of the characters' relationship woes onto the beached whales, nicely captures where this issue landed.
Matt Rohrer had a good laughline at our commencement. He said that our diplomas are less valuable than the blank paper on which they were printed. (It's true! Try convincing an employer that an MFA qualifies you for the position.) At least a blank page you can write on. And if you believe him, rest assured that there's exactly one blank page in this issue of the journal. It's on page 6, though even the page number doesn't appear there, and it comes immediately before all the content begins - stories from Lydia Davis and Yuri Herrera, poetry from Thomas Dooley and Carmen Gimenez Smith, discussions with Rachel Zucker, David Trinidad, and Lorrie Moore. And in some way, every piece that follows is trying to replicate the power of that emptiness.