• A Letter from the Editor

    Adam Ross


    March 16, 2020

    Dear Readers of the Sewanee Review,

    If you’re living through the current pandemic as I am, perhaps the most salient fact of the experience is how fast everything is changing. It’s hard to recall much about yesterday when three days before that your children’s spring break was extended, then the next day their school closed, then your university closed. (Or you were laid off. Or were stuck far from home.) All chronology seems to have shattered. If we ride through life each on our own little ships, then the weather at sea is decidedly turbulent and foggy. In our wake, each minute it seems, previously comforting systems go tumbling, and then disappear in the haze, immediately forgotten. From the prow, where our eyes are directed, other systems suddenly come whipping toward us, out of nowhere, and are gone. You give up asking how long this will last. There seems to only be the now.

      And if you’re living through the current pandemic as I am, you feel, very acutely, what a very brilliant friend of mine described as “adjacent authority.” Absent consistent messages from local, state, and federal governments, we ask the person nearest to us: what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it, to somehow triangulate our own actionable response.

      Which gets to this notion of “nearest,” or “nearness.” Since I’m writing this on a mountain, and from a remote place, I’m on the phone a lot, talking to those near and dear to me. Last Thursday—I think it was Thursday—I was talking with one of our contributors, Lea Carpenter, who lives in Manhattan and had heard from a well-connected friend that New York’s mayor was going to close the public school system, the largest in the nation. Having grown up in Manhattan and gone to public school myself, this idea, this decision, with all of its cascading social and economic consequences, stunned me into near immobility.

      I’m a jiujitsu athlete, and in that sport as in my life as an editor and writer, I live by the following mantra: Flow with the go. So I immediately reached out to our contributors, as well as other thoughtful people I know, and asked them to write me about what they were seeing from their vantage point as this crisis unfolds. I thought we’d call their responses the Corona Correspondences. The rationale was to give you, our readers, something to enjoy that’s fresh and daily and, I hope, encouraging and affirming, since these missives or letters or dispatches should make you feel less isolated in isolation. These letters are acts of freedom, fellowship, and charity.  In lieu of payment, our authors have agreed to allow us to make purchases or donations to local nonprofits in our correspondents' local communities. We list those as well, at the end of each letter, to give you the option of furthering their contribution.

      Below you will find an ongoing archive of these Corona Correspondences, which we will continue to update for as long as we receive them. I hope you share these. I hope they’re a comfort.

      Meanwhile, here at the Review, we are doing what we can to make your isolation more bearable, to increase a safe sense of nearness. First, we’ll be releasing our podcasts at a much faster clip than was planned. Second, we’ll be sharing more material from our archive. Third, we’ll continue to publish on schedule. Watch for notifications from us about this. The Spring issue will be available online on March 30th. Meanwhile, we’re editing Summer 2020, at an acceptable social distance from each other.

      Stay in touch. Be good to each other. Help those in need. Flow with the go.

    All my best,

    Adam Ross

    The Corona Correspondences

    1. Lauren Groff
    2. Michael Knight
    3. Sidik Fofana
    4. Richard Russo
    5. Ian Shapira
    6. Richard Ford
    7. Elliot Ackerman
    8. Lea Carpenter
    9. Stephanie Danler
    10. Ben Fountain
    11. Lorrie Moore
    12. T. J. Stiles
    13. Christian Kiefer
    14. Alexia Arthurs
    15. Monica Black
    16. Lisa Taddeo
    17. Dani Shapiro
    18. Catherine Lacey
    19. Rebecca Makkai
    20. Laura van den Berg and Paul Yoon
    21. David Means
    22. Chloe Benjamin
    23. Megan Abbott
    24. Louisa Thomas
    25. Francine Prose
    26. Megha Majumdar
    27. Liz Garrigan
    28. Danielle Evans
    29. Julia Phillips
    30. Bruce Dobie
    31. Adam Voith
    32. Tara K. Menon
    33. Lisa Lucas
    34. Jamil Jan Kochai
    35. Gillian Flynn
    36. Caki Wilkinson
    37. K. Anis Ahmed
    38. Evangeline Neve
    39. Adam Schwartz
    40. Amy Evans
    41. Geoff MacDonald
    42. Reginald Dwayne Betts
    43. Shana Minkin
    44. Frank Tota
    45. Jesse Lee Kercheval
    46. L.B. Browne
    47. W. Marichal Gentry
    48. Kay Exley Gunkel
    49. Claire Gibson
    50. Leelie Selassie
    Afterword - Adam Ross

    Adam Ross is the editor of the Sewanee Review, as well as the author of the novel Mr. Peanut and the short story collection Ladies and Gentlemen.

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