Familiarity breeds contempt, and nowhere is this more true than across certain international borders. When I edited a journal in Australia I often included the work of New Zealanders—to the bemusement of my Australian colleagues, who were disinclined to believe, as they looked across the Tasman, that there was any there there. New Zealand seems to many Australians like a lesser version of themselves—“Australia without Irish larrikinism,” a friend of mine once said, meaning Australia without irreverence, wit, and verve. But if it is hard to be Australia’s neighbor, how much harder is it to be the neighbor of the great and terrible United States?
So, with this in mind, I have been making modest efforts to solicit the work of Canadian writers, and in this issue I am proud to present the work of two: Judith McCormack, a writer from Toronto, whose eerie, evocative story, “A Theory of Probability,” impressed me both for its sensuous prose and its disturbing characters; and Annabel Lyon, a talented young writer from Vancouver with a perfectly-tuned ear for the mixed emotions people have and their little ways of expressing them.
In the fall of 2001 Harvard Review began publishing plays. Since then I have had readers tell me how pleased they are to see us doing the occasional playscript. And I have had readers tell me that the one thing that really doesn’t work is plays. But no one, I am fairly sure, will object to the absolutely fabulous appearance in this issue of two scenes from a play by Arthur Miller—talk about irreverence, wit, and verve. They are the first two scenes of Resurrection Blues, Miller’s most recent play but one, which premiered at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in 2002 and has since been produced in Philadelphia and San Diego. Fast, funny, and piercingly satirical, these are pages that it would amaze me to hear anyone didn’t like.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the presence in this issue of essays by Jane Brox and Patricia Vigderman, both superb stylists and writers of the sort of elegant, enquiring essay that I particularly admire, and two poems by Tom Seigh whose escape from the intensity of contemporary experience takes the form of a vivid leap into classicism and myth.