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In this elemental issue of LARB Quarterly, no. 38: Earth, we found new ways of looking at the planet. Writers were free to take up the theme casually or catastrophically, studying the earth beneath their fingernails or the planet from hundreds of thousands of miles away. We imagined being sealed outside, dreaming of coming home.
Salma Shamel remembers her brother and his struggles within his family’s faith, in an essay that gave the issue and its omnibus a tagline: “There is nothing redemptive or emancipatory in suffering.” Ali Bektaş digs into the history of cannabis farming. Laura Nelson’s account of Antelope Valley’s communist back-to-the-landers teaches us the challenges of building heaven in hell. Editor-in-Chief Michelle Chihara’s survey of illicit global finance systems tallies the true costs of capital flowing freely, in the dark, among walled-off fiefdoms. Camila Fabbri reports from the front lines of the war for romance—a nail salon in Buenos Aires—while Chris Molnar recounts listening to Art Pepper in L.A., “the beautiful dead end of America.” Gabi Reigh offers a translation of Max Blecher’s account of his time in a small French town that, in the early 20th century, specialized in treating tuberculosis patients. Juliana Spahr writes about the decay of bodies and what it does to those who inhabit them. This issue features new short fiction from Hallie Gayle and ML Kejera; poetry by Bryan Byrdlong, Anders Carlson-Wee, Kim Ok (translated by Ryan Choi), Meghan Maguire Dahn, Sandra Lim, and Jesse Nathan; and art from the likes of Nobuo Sekine, Gauri Gill, and Rajesh Vangad. Through vibrant prose, poetry, art, and fiction, Earth renders life here as alien as it often is.