“The Night Before”

I have been quiet here on the blog as of late. That is due to a variety of reasons. One of the more recent ones is that, the past two weeks, I ventured forth on a road trip with my wife, going first to visit my in-laws in Colorado and then on to visit and hike Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon National Parks in Utah. As usual, the desert treated me well, and while I was pleased to return to the green and growth of my Pacific Northwest home, there is something about the Colorado Plateau that calls to and invigorates me. It is a special landscape, and the opportunity I’ve had the past few years to visit it regularly on road trips has been a particular pleasure.

The partly dormant blog, however, does not mean that I haven’t been writing. While my pace has admittedly slowed of late, with my jumping between multiple projects and finding it hard to settle, I still have managed to wrap up a recent tale, “The Night Before.” And as it happens, it is now available for your reading pleasure. This one is not being published here on the website but instead is debuting in the new issue of New Maps, the deindustrial quarterly magazine published by Nathanael Bonnell that has informally replaced my own retired quarterly, Into the Ruins. Full information on the issue that contains it and how you can get a copy can be found right here.

“The Night Before” is a quiet and meditative story, set in a not-too-distant future America suffering from economic contraction and the failures of empire. It unfolds over the course of a single, life-altering night but is a story extended out across the globe and throughout the years. I really enjoyed writing it, and I’m hoping that others enjoy reading it. I’ll be curious to hear feedback on it.

It also, as it happens, is the only story I have ever written in second person. I imagine it will be the only one I ever do. Before this tale—one that started in first person, but at first didn’t quite work—I had never written a story in second person or, frankly, ever had a desire to. It’s a relatively rare perspective and I imagine there’s good reason for that: it’s just strange. But for whatever reason, the idea of trying it when first person was not working came to me. So I tried it, and I felt like it worked. With luck, readers will too. To my mind, it provides the story a sense of intimacy and immediacy that I think works well for it; but here again, I’ll be curious to hear what others think.

I want to thank Nathanael Bonnell for accepting the story for publication and for his excellent feedback and editing in guiding it to print; and my wife Kate for her encouragement, for reading through an initial draft, and for her useful feedback and suggestions. Thanks as well to Justin Patrick Moore for providing me lots of great information on ham radio, most of which I unfortunately did not end up using. Still, it helped me tweak one particular part of the story and I now have some very good ham radio information that just may make its way into a future deindustrial story.

Interested in reading the story? If you’re already a subscriber to New Maps—which, really, you should be—then your issue should be on the way if it hasn’t already arrived. Not a subscriber? Become one or purchase a copy of the new Spring 2021 issue. You won’t be disappointed. If you have not yet had a chance to read New Maps, you’re in for a treat. The magazine is a more-than-worthy successor to Into the Ruins, building on what I was able to do with that magazine and taking it in new and exciting directions. Reading the first issue a few months ago was a real delight; I’m eager to get my copy of the second issue, not just to see my own story in print (always enjoyable) but to read the rest of it. Trust me, you won’t go wrong with a subscription.

Meanwhile, I always like getting feedback on my writing. If you read “The Night Before” and feel compelled to offer any thoughts or criticism, please drop me a line at joel@joelcaris.com.

Thanks all, and keep your eyes peeled for new blog updates coming soon!

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