About the Cover
Our cover design by Nanette Black features a photograph
taken in France near the Spanish border in the 1950s and published
in Imprints by Christer Strömholm: The Hasselblad Award
1997 (Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg, Sweden, 1998). Christer
Strömholm died on January 11, 2002, at age 83. Two recent exhibitions
of his work in Paris at Gallerie Vu and Photo-Paris received high
praise, as well as rave reviews in Le Monde. Strömholm’s
work over the last half century largely shaped photography as an
independent art form throughout Europe.
Tom Bigelow, managing editor of The Kenyon
Review since 1998, died on June 9. He was 47 years old.
I sit here using the occasion of these notes merely to give some
order to my thoughts—not to make sense of the senseless—as
I did last fall in the wake of the September 11 attacks. As so often
in our world, the small event resonates against the large.
In a few hours I will make the drive to Tom’s hometown, Delphos,
Ohio, for his funeral. Five weeks ago, a moment, he gave every appearance
of health and good spirits. Just some pains in his legs—they
were keeping him awake. Doctors discovered troubling blood clots,
which led them to search further and a further discovery: stage-four
cancer of the pancreas and liver.
Traditional treatment wasn’t an option, so the specialists avowed.
Tom began investigating homeopathic options. But the tumors were
too swift, too greedy. His organs began to shut down. How grateful
I am that, on a hunch, I went to visit him at home last week. There
is some solace that he did not suffer great pain and that he died
in his sleep. Small comfort for the rest of us, but comfort nonetheless.
Tom Bigelow was a terrific managing editor and a good friend. But
this is not the place for a eulogy. Eulogies, it seems to me, are
meaningful only to those who knew the individual now gone. Writing
about Tom for those who didn’t know him would be an inversion of
those paper-thin eulogies offered by priests or rabbis who never
knew the person, though they are in fact addressing family and friends
who did. Small comfort.
Tom was invisible to most of our readers, though very much a presence
to our writers. With them he carried on a steady correspondence
leading up to publication and often beyond, from contracts through
copyediting and proofs and then perhaps to still more editing. For
herein lies a truth, though the figure is clichéd: managing
editors are the unsung heroes of literature. They make it happen.
Writers and the editors who choose their stories, poems, and essays
strike a connection that is often wondrous and even magical. But
for the larger literary magazines it is the managing editor who
consummates the union, who brings the manuscript through to print,
who, still further, makes sure the publication appears on time and
arrives as promised to subscribers and bookstores.
Like it or not, my responsibility to the KR staff, to the
magazine, and its readers, means that even while anticipating Tom’s
funeral, I have opened the file to the job search that brought him
to our office four years ago. We have been struggling without him
for five weeks, and can’t continue this way for long. So I study
the job description. It’s entirely ridiculous. A joke. What sane
person would apply for, let alone accept, such an overwhelming welter
of duties, from those contracts and proofs, to managing budgets
and Web sites and grant proposals, to overseeing distribution and
Well, Tom did. There are others like him who produce literary magazines
around the country. You don’t know them. This isn’t a eulogy.
—David H. Lynn