Think of a few stations of solitude: a comfy chair beside the fireplace, a well-worn writing table, a cabin window opening onto a pastoral scene. You can practically hear the hush. And with these tableaux come a most delicious thrill for writers and readers alike — the psychological sovereignty to let one’s mind drift and wander, come what may.
Ah, the daydream, and its companion question, ‘What if?’ What if this happens? Or what if that happens? Or what if — heaven forbid! — nothing happens? Because once you begin to answer, you are, by necessity, eliminating countless other possibilities. That first step may be a gesture, but the second is surely a commitment.
And so the pendulum swings: from idleness to activity; from wonder to logic; from mystery to reason. From self to world and back again. If the work of the writer is daydreaming, edited, it is the fortunate reader who receives this daydream at secondhand, invited into their own private reveries.
In both writing and reading, we get to try on other selves. We get to figure out what we are about. Without our daydreams, we are likely to be narrowed to not much more than what the world is commanding us to be. Life may at times feel like a go-along, but, in daydreaming, rebellion escalates.
And so, dear reader, we offer you the daydreams of our writers. They asked, ‘What if?’ Read on to see how they answered.
~ Genevieve Wynand, Pulp Literature Issue 36, Autumn 2022
Have you ever danced the Macarena? Done the Running Man? Surely you’ve tickled Elmo or talked to the hand. Done up your ’do in a scrunchie or a flattop or the Rachel? Was it Nirvana or the Spice Girls in your Discman? And just how big was your Beanie Babies collection? Whatever your nineties style — or current retro version thereof — no trip through the decade of Docs and flannel would be complete without a solid three-minute stare at a Magic Eye poster.
Stereograms weren’t new to the nineties. Binocular stereopsis — the visual sense of depth we perceive from having two eyes spaced apart — was discovered in the nineteenth century. The stereogram trend of that era was the Victorian stereoscope. And, beginning in 1939, it was the View-Master. But the colourful Magic Eye posters let us do the work ourselves, no device required. They take advantage of the slightly different image received by each eye, and from a two-dimensional image, we get a three-dimensional scene.
The trick is to soften your focus. Relax your gaze. Stay present. Reading, whether with your fingers, your ears, or your eyes, asks this of us too. Take in some sensory detail, translate it (neurologically and psychologically), and let the images come alive in your very own mind. Of course, sometimes the thing we expect to see isn’t the thing we end up seeing. But a crack in the expected might just invite us into a whole new world.
Here at Pulp, we delight in bringing you a glimpse of the timeless beyond the trends. This issue is full of friends and family, magic and mermaids. Familiar themes, yes, but in the hands of our authors, brought to new and enchanting life. In storytelling, writers make something from nothing (ah, the dreaded blank page!). Of course, nothing is ever truly nothing. Blank space, white space, dark matter. Creative inspiration. There is a there there. It is the lucky reader who gets to discover it. Sometimes all you have to do is trust in the magic.
~ Genevieve Wynand, Pulp Literature Issue 35, Summer 2022
Have Space, Will Travel
There’s a running joke here in south-western British Columbia. How many seasons are there in the Lower Mainland? Two: winter — and roadwork. Roadwork season begins when there’s still enough frost on the grass and snap in the air to make you remember your gloves, but just enough warmth to abandon those gloves for about an hour each day at noon. Popping up everywhere like so many brave crocuses, flaggers are flagging, diggers are digging, levellers are levelling, and pavers are paving. And most of their attention is turned to filling in the umpteen potholes with which winter scarred the city streets.
The original potholes are circles; the filled-in patches are squares. To make the road whole again, the crew excises just enough space to make for an easier repair. And while those early-morning road crews are busy squaring their circles, you can find me hunched over my coffee and crosswords, trying to circle so many puzzling squares. Will Shortz, the long-time New York Times crossword puzzle editor, believes that when people see an empty square, they long to fill it. Surely, too, when a writer sees a blank page, they feel the urge to fill it. I’ve stared down enough blank pages and driven over enough of my own literary potholes to know this to be true.
The seeds of my writing life were planted early. Books and reading — and the spaces of reading — are giants of my childhood memories. Visiting the children’s section of our local library, with its alphabet carpet, tiered steps for storytime, kid-height shelves and orderly books. (You could spot the Blumes from the Clearys an LMNOP carpet-row away!) Standing still and quiet with my fellow kindergarten-soldiers in the hallway of our elementary school, waiting for the school librarian to open the doors to the land of lending cards and limitless wonder. Sitting in the back seat of the family station wagon as we barrelled through the Rockies, me paying more attention to my mountain of books than, well, the mountains of rock. I saw spaces in which to read, and I most definitely filled them.
To me, spring is the most spacious of seasons. It is the promise of the new, yes, but it is also the season in which things begin again to take up space. Animals away from hibernation. Buds away from branches. And we humans, hopefully, toward each other.
So, whether you are a city engineer filling yet another pothole, a writer fixing yet another plot-hole, or a young-at-heart reader who still craves books to feel whole, we salute you.
~ Genevieve Wynand, Pulp Literature Issue 34, Spring 2022
A Walk in the Words
Recently I learned that holoholo is the Hawaiian word for walking with no destination in mind. A delightful experience, that. Setting forth on a journey with no predetermined endpoint, meandering through one’s thoughts according to whatever push or pull arises, not knowing what waits on the flip side of the next leaf … Sounds a bit like reading, doesn’t it?
Or maybe reading is more of an ‘all roads lead to Rome’ situation: mille viae ducunt homines per sæcula Romam. Literally, ‘a thousand roads lead people through the centuries to Rome’. No matter the path we choose, no matter our navigation, so long as we keep walking, we will, somehow, arrive.
A sæculum is the length of time equivalent to one’s potential lifetime. It is a connection to those who’ve come before us and to those who will come after. Whichever of the thousand roads we choose, we journey to the centre of things — and to ourselves and to each other. Reading helps with that, too.
There are clues to the mystery everywhere. The short sound of the first letter of the English language is that of a sigh. A sigh of relief, perhaps, or of recognition or sadness or joy. You take one breath, and then another, and then — big release. Another of reading’s offerings.
To journey with books is to travel through love and loss, pleasure and pain, innocence and experience, disillusionment and (if we’re lucky) awakening. We encounter what Zorba, in Zorba the Greek, refers to as ‘the full catastrophe’: in reading, and reading widely, we confront and embrace it all. Big-breath reading, you might say.
May the stories in your life catch your breath — and may they take it away.
~ Genevieve Wynand, Pulp Literature Issue 33, Winter 2022
Of Pulp and Pumpkins
Ah, autumn, we’re ready for you. Ready for the cooling air, the glowing sunlight, the brilliant red and orange leaves, the noisy geese in their southward-bound vees. And, of course, for the pumpkins.
While the cafés fill with the heady scent of spiced lattes, the pumpkins wait. They wait in fields and grocery stores and farmers’ markets. They wait for the carvers, Michelangelos all, to test their heft, scrutinize their surfaces, and imagine the possibilities. To paraphrase the master, the carvers see the face in the gourd and will carve until they set it free. Freed not as Davids in white marble, but as jack-o’-lanterns in orange flesh.
Yes, orange might be the preferred Jack, but out beyond the ubiquitous cardboard bins exists a veritable pumpkin rainbow: red, yellow, green, blue, grey, black, white, blush, and brown. And not just round and smooth, but squat, slumped, stout, knobby, pocked, goose-necked, deep-ridged, pear-shaped, palm-sized, and wagon worthy.
And such fantastic names! Batwing, Baby Boo, Cotton Candy, Goosebumps, Harvest Moon, Jack-Be-Little, Jack-B-Quick, Knucklehead, Long Island Cheese, Magic Lantern, Moonshine, Scheherazade, Snack Jack, Super Moon, Speckled Hound, Sweetie Pie, Warty Goblin. And, the best to end this endless list: One Too Many.
Here at Pulp Literature we delight in bringing you a cross-genre cornucopia of literary cucurbits. Stories and poems of many shapes and sizes, tastes and textures, all have a home in the Pulp Lit pumpkin patch. And what a bounty it is! So set down the carving knife, pick up a spiced latte or hot chocolate or apple cider, and spend a little time with us.
~ Genevieve Wynand, Pulp Literature Issue 32, Autumn 2021
Welcome to British Columbia!
Here in the northern hemisphere, the sun is high in the sky, the days are long and languid, the fruit is plump — and most of us aren’t going anywhere. Yes, dear reader, it’s time for another staycation summer.
And so, in the spirit of local living, I wandered around my memory and spent some time with my BC summers past.
The highlights? Drinking well water for the first time and stalking ghosts on DeCourcy Island. Eating peaches fresh from the orchard and delivered by jalopy to an Okanagan campground. Building architecturally suspect sandcastles at Rathtrevor Beach. Camping on a seaside cliff top on Salt Spring Island, under giant red Mars. Introducing my kids to the kids in Coombs (Goats on the Roof — oh, please google this!). Buying a real-deal cowboy hat at a rodeo in Barriere. And so, so many more. My local summer-love list could fill this issue.
For many of us, summer season is road-trip season. Back roads, open roads, country roads, and pavement. And with me always, a book — my very own, portable roadside attraction. But well before the last page is turned, I’m already on the hunt for the next one. (Okay, who are we kidding? I’m always on the hunt for the next one.)
Fortunately, on every road trip, books abound. On rickety wire racks stuffed with cheap paperbacks at small-town pharmacies. In lovely independent bookstores in Tofino and Sechelt and Fort Langley. In used bookstores in Nanaimo and Victoria and Penticton. And on the creaking shelves of every town’s church thrift shop.
So however near or far the winds of summer take you, we wish you great adventure — and happy reading. Because, as the bibliophiles among us know, when all else fails, have book, will travel.
~ Genevieve Wynand, Pulp Literature Issue 31, Summer 2021
The Great Do-Over
Springtime lessons abound: it is the season of rebirth, renewal, hope. It is a growing season. And in my writer’s mind, it is the revising season. A reminder that all of life is a rough draft and we often figure things out by saying or doing them badly the first time. But with the flick of a calendar page — or an eraser — transformation is in the offing.
Spring offers a change of scene and scenery. It reminds us that each of us is the author of our own life, and that how we describe and understand that life is an ongoing narrative. We can rewrite the plot and setting as we go. Because brave re-vision is both the act of revising and of seeing again — of being again.
Metamorphosis, a thread that runs through many of the stories in this issue, teaches us that we might make mistakes; the process is messy. To become a butterfly, that perennial symbol of metamorphosis, the caterpillar must digest itself, must literally melt, before it grows wings and takes flight.
Of this season of second drafts, Margaret Atwood reminds us: In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt. Yes. Dig in the dirt. Trudge through the mud. Make a pencil-smudged, crossed-out mess of the page. Do. Do again. Melt. Fly.
~ Genevieve Wynand, Pulp Literature Issue 30, Spring 2021
When staring down the blank page, a writer might turn to a writing prompt for inspiration. For this issue’s editorial, that inspiration came from RH Blyth, who, when speaking of poetry, describes haiku as ‘an open door that looks shut’. Well, if that doesn’t beautifully capture the spirit of winter itself, I don’t know what does.
Of all the seasons, winter is the most like a shuttered door. Leaves are off the trees, migratory birds have departed, snow blankets much of the landscape. It is as if Earth has put a finger to her lips and gently sighed, Hush.
But, of course, all is not as quiet as it seems. The roots of those trees are resting but ready, the birds are chirping elsewhere, and the snow on the rooftops is a temporary veil on the life that continues to buzz in the homes beneath.
Whether of words or winter, an open door that looks shut invites us to share in the creative process. To seek inspiration where none first seems to exist. To remember that even though something looks barren, great promise dwells on the other side.
When facing a new page, a new season, or a new year, we make a leap of faith that life will open itself to us. That all we need is already there, waiting, however quiet it seems. As the world welcomes a new year, we wish you health and peace, and the courage to nudge the door and begin again.
~ Genevieve Wynand, Pulp Literature Issue 29, Winter 2021
My father, born in Germany, immigrated with his family to Canada when he was nine. A childhood friend, born in Canada to Italian parents, moved to Italy when she was twelve. Another, born in India, came to Canada when she was eight. All of them, like so many, lived childhood in one language and later years in another.
Our first language is handed down by our parents. Through it we weave our personal, familial, and cultural narratives. It orients us in time and space; it is a foundation of self. For those with both a mother tongue and a linguistic stepparent, personal and cultural identity might seem to exist in a third space — in a liminal realm of (n)either/(n)or. A singular place where home and away aren’t easily pinned to any map.
The stories in this issue are alive with movement, migration, and memory. Through them we travel through time and space and place. They ask us to consider the limits of location and the challenges of dislocation. And many speak directly to the experience of discontinuity — and discovery — in language and culture.
Since its inception, Pulp Literature has been a literary home for many genres. Multiple voices meet and mingle, the familiar and the not-yet-known tucked beneath the same gorgeous cover. Whether in crossing genres or oceans, diverse narratives show us not only what is different, but also what is shared. Whatever one’s journey, for a few moments at least, ‘You Are Here’.
~ Genevieve Wynand, Pulp Literature Issue 28, Autumn 2020
A Time to Build Up
In magazine publishing, issues are planned months — even years — in advance. Peering deep into our editorial crystal ball, we look to the future, envisioning the final product that you will ultimately hold in your hands, the stories you will invite into your life, the fortunes you will want told.
Here at Pulp Lit we mark time by the steady tempo of the four seasons. An exercise in divination, we imagine the future while firmly planted in the present. And, as The Byrds remind us, to everything there is a season and a time to every purpose.
As shufflers and gamblers of words, we selected these stories long before the portentous phrases — quarantine, social distancing, self-isolation, shelter in place — became our new deal with reality. We gazed into our crystal ball, cloudy and uncertain, and asked, What will summer bring?
In truth, not one of us ever really knows what the future holds. Publishing, like a crystal ball or shuffle of the deck, is all about taking a chance on the sweetness of life’s persistent unfolding. But whatever the fates decide, be it sweet or sour, great stories allow us to conjure our own escape. And perhaps that is the most comforting fortune of all.
We hope these words find you safe and well, and reassured in knowing that as one season ends, a new one always begins.
~ Genevieve Wynand, Pulp Literature Issue 27, Summer 2020
One day I will find the right words,
and they will be simple.
~ Jack Kerouac