When I signed on to curate a fiction-exclusive issue, I was a bit worried that I might encounter some monotony; I couldn’t have been more wrong. Each of these stories is brimming with life in a different kind of way.

For starters, Charles Rafferty’s “A Perfect Ass” and M.V. Montgomery’s “The Church of Universal Entropy” are all sorts of ridiculous. Chock full of clever turns-of-phrase and sassy quips, they are nothing but pleasurable to read. David James’ “Ten Days After Russell Edson Died,” Bill Vernon’s “An Old Song,” and Liza Case’s “Pizza Western” are pieces that employ varying degrees of the surreal. They all seem a little off-beat on the surface, but the more time you spend with them, the more you’re convinced that they’ve got a secret, and a profound one at that. Daniel W. Thompson’s “What Happened to Brad” and Marc S. Cohen’s “Daughters” each explore the mind of a peculiar, self-conscious narrator. “About A Mean One” and “Biscotti and Wedding Bands,” perhaps the most narratively conventional stories in this issue, start innocently and domestically, but move slowly into darker and darker thematic territory without leaving the domestic sphere. Alan Coats’ “Runnels County, TX” almost feels like a fable.

Thank you to Tim Lepczyk for letting me compile such a diverse batch of treasures.