Fallen

by Stacy Wennstrom
I recently read Gone with the Wind.  I had decided to read all of the books that have won the Pulitzer prize for fiction and/or the novel, and the 1937 winner seemed the perfect choice for summer reading, even though it is not the kind of book I typically read.  I expected to be amused by Mitchell’s epic romance, nothing more, but I was surprised when it brought out numerous emotions in me.

I experienced amusement and a bit of contempt in the beginning, reading about spoiled plantation heirs, whose lives were all about riding, hunting, and drinking, and debutantes interested only in beaux and pretty dresses.  I then grudgingly developed respect and admiration for these same characters during the war years, watching the privileged adjust to hunger, illness, and danger.  Then I was appalled and angered by the racism that characterized the book.

Whatever I may think of the characters of Gone with the Wind or their worldviews, I will say both Mitchell and her spoiled heroine have my admiration.  When Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton returns to Tara in the last days of the war, she vows to steal, cheat, and murder before she submits to genteel poverty and starvation, and then the reader gets to watch her do all three.  Mitchell wasn’t afraid to make her heroine fall hard and then do unspeakable things.  She knew that it is after the fall that stories begin and the true nature of humanity emerges, both the heroic and the horrible.

Like Gone with the Wind, our September issue also explores stories of the fall.  We received many great submissions during our last reading period, full of honesty and emotional bravery.   We are proud to present you with short stories, poetry, and essays, covering everything from the decline of marriage and family to crises of faith.  We would like to thank all of the writers who submitted work for this issue and all our readers.  We also say goodbye to one of our poetry editors, Chloe N. Clark, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.

Our next issue will be published in December 2011 with the theme of Farewell.  If you are interested in contributing, please see our  submissions guidelines.  You can keep informed of all of our deadlines, publication dates, and other news by visiting our Facebook page, which is located here.
Stacy Wennstrom is a senior editor at Halfway Down the Stairs. For staff biographies, click here.

© 2011, Stacy Wennstrom