Issue 8 - Spring 2014

Last month, I had the opportunity to travel to Gibbon, Nebraska to witness the annual migration of the Sandhill Cranes, who—for the past several thousand years—have journeyed to Gibbon each spring to feast and rest along the still waters of the Platte River. Nebraska is their only prolonged stopover between the places that they’ve been—namely, Mexico—and the places where they are headed: Michigan, Canada, even—in some rare cases—Siberia. At the height of the migration season, there are an estimated half a million cranes resting along the river’s shallow embankment, and all at once—apropos of seemingly nothing—the birds rise together at dawn, taking to the skies; by seven, they return, once again all together.

It’s a magnificent sight, and standing there in the bare-bones, unheated viewing blind from 5am-8am, as I did, I was reminded of what we do, the staff and readers of Defunct. We trust, of course, that we’ll find the beautiful gems—the essays in our submission pile that stand out among the rest—and like the cranes’ predictable descent into the river, we always do. In this issue, we’re delighted to share what we consider some of the best flash nonfiction—essays that conjure a beautifully lyrical sense of defunctness. Among the many impressive selections, a meditation on parsing motherhood and the difference between want and love, a heartfelt rumination on a current lover’s former lover by way of a photograph, and a delightful rumination on the now defunct door-to-door book salesman, carting copies of The World Book of Knowledge. As always, we’re thrilled to pair these works with exceptional art—in this case, inspired illustrations by graphic artist Shana Brenion, who curated original work from her own interpretations of our essays—and we’re delighted, too, to share a photo essay on the convergence of two disparate worlds by photographer Amanda Boe.

We're so thrilled with this latest issue, and hope you will be, as well.

-Amy Butcher
Editor, Defunct


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Borne of the idea that strong, condensed nonfiction can resurrect the dead, salvage the past and, perhaps most importantly, quell the existential unease of nostalgia, Defunct was founded in the dead of an Iowa City winter in 2009 in the back-booth of The Mill. Since then, we’ve published five fantastic issues that feature the work of Joe Wenderoth, Ander Monson, David Shields, Lia Purpura, Roxane Gay, Joe Bonomo, Dinty W. Moore, Elizabeth Kadetsky, Chris Offutt and many more. We’ve also been listed as publishing one of the 100 Best Pieces of Journalism by the Atlantic (for Ander Monson's 2011 essay, “Long Live The Jart”), and we’ve held readings, book fairs and events at the annual AWP Conference in Boston, Washington D.C., and Chicago, as well as the NonfictioNow Conference in both Iowa City and Melbourne, Australia. All issues, including archives, are available exclusively online, and new issues are released every spring and fall.