About the Cover
Our cover design by Nanette Black features Windows,
1999, a photograph by Diane Deaton. Much of Deaton’s
work focuses on “abandoned places,” including this photo
taken outside of Hackettstown, New Jersey—an old house with
a door that no longer has steps leading up to it. A resident of
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Deaton’s work can be seen online
What will follow is a series of celebratory announcements.
But as I write these notes we have received the unhappy news of
George Plimpton’s death. And so it seems fitting to pause,
to interject a salute in his memory. Urbane, self-deprecating, fun,
and very, very funny, George Plimpton was a marvelous writer and,
as editor of the Paris Review, one of the most influential
figures in American literature for the last generation. George was
a most welcome guest at last autumn’s Kenyon Review Award
for Literary Achievement. He enjoyed the food and drink, enjoyed
the company—and the rest of us enjoyed the wit of his remarks.
Preparations for a fiftieth anniversary gala for Paris
were well advanced at the time of his death. The event must now
be bittersweet, but there is all the more to celebrate in his personal
achievements and those of his magazine.
During the winter of 1994 The Kenyon
Review skated perilously close to extinction. A financial crisis
nearly forced us to close our covers once and, I suspect, for all.
At the last moment, thanks to the leadership and generosity of a
few people who would go on to be trustees of a newly incorporated
Review, that closure was avoided. But drastic cuts in expenses
had to be made, among them switching from four-color covers to the
black-and-white duotones that have since become such a striking
signature for the magazine, and, more dire, retreating from quarterly
publication to thrice per year.
Ten years. I won’t
rehearse all that’s been accomplished financially and organizationally.
We’ve marked a number of the milestones along this path. But
I am delighted, I am proud to announce that with this volume year,
XXVI of the New Series of The Kenyon Review, we return
to quarterly publication. Instead of a Summer/Fall double issue
appearing in September, the Summer issue will arrive in June 2004,
Fall 2004 in October.
Ten years. Of hard work by an evolving staff.
Of guidance, faith, and support from the KR trustees, as
well as from faculty, staff, administrators, and students at Kenyon
College. Perhaps most of all, of loyalty (and high expectations) from
our readers. In gratitude, we will not increase subscription rates
for the time being, despite the extra issue. My warm thanks to all
who have played a role.
The Best of the Kenyon Review, an extraordinary
compendium of stories, poems, and essays from across sixty-five
years, has just been released as a trade paperback from Sourcebooks,
Inc. Although intended for bookstores and general readers across
the country, this volume will also appeal to teachers in high schools
and colleges who have used KR in their classes. The anthology
will provide a stable text that they can use from year to year,
featuring great work from the twentieth century as well as exciting,
recent material as well. It is a first effort at mining some of
the great riches of the KR archives. Two more volumes are
under contract. Great expectations.
While in the mode of happy announcements, let
me say that Joyce Carol Oates is the recipient of the 2003 Kenyon
Review Award for Literary Achievement. On November 11, at a splendid
dinner at Daniel in New York, E. L. Doctorow, last year’s
honoree, presented Ms. Oates with the award on behalf of the Kenyon
Review Board of Trustees. It hardly needs to be said that Joyce
Carol Oates has been one of the most significant and distinguished
voices of the last thirty years and more in America. Her range of
subject, genre, voice, and mode are to my mind unequaled. What is
also true—and too rarely noted—is that Ms. Oates has
been a loyal and generous supporter of independent literary publishing,
not only of this magazine but of many, many others. Few authors
of her fame continue to publish work in literary journals or to
be an advocate for their importance to the national culture. She
didn’t win this prestigious award because of that loyalty
and commitment. But they are worthy of acclaim as well.
I’m also pleased to announce that
Randall Mann’s first book of poems, Complaint in the Garden,
has been selected by David Baker for the Kenyon Review Prize in
Poetry, and will be published in the spring by Zoo Press. This is
the third such prize. The first two poets so honored, Beth Anne
Fennelly and Christopher Cessac, have seen their careers flourish,
and we are proud to be part of that happy growth. This series reaffirms
an essential part of KR’s mission: to discover and
publish exciting, talented new voices—the authors who will
be among the most distinguished of the coming generation, along
with those who already have achieved such acclaim. We will feature
several of Randall Mann’s poems, along with an introduction
by David Baker, in the Spring 2004 KR.
—David H. Lynn