Quarterly Journal: No 23, Imitation Issue

Cover Art By Marcelo Gomes

ESSAYS: Claire L. Evans, Paul Chan, Donald D. Hoffman, Anjum Hasan, Savannah Knoop, R. Jay Magill Jr. 

FICTION: Jacob Rubin, Jessica Shabin, Hiromi Kawakami, Hyatt Bass

POETRY: Arthur Sze, Maya C. Popa, Ricardo Alberto Maldonado, Jenny George, Dora Malech


Dear Reader,

Imitation can be many things — flattery, scandal, practice. It is both an unusual talent and a fundamental skill. We learn quite literally by imitating our way through the world — one of the only things an infant can do is mimic facial expressions. But imitation can also make us uneasy, as many filmmakers, artists, and writers know. What if we can’t tell the difference? A perfect imitation challenges our ideas about authorship, originality, and value. It can be genius, farce, or horror.

This issue of the Los Angeles Review of Books Quarterly Journal explores Imitation in a variety of ways. Claire L. Evans writes about the history of the avatar and the ways we have represented ourselves in games and online. Paul Chan writes about the strange affinity between the ancient concept of the soul and our own concept of data. Donald D. Hoffman explores the counterintuitive role that imitation has played in the history of evolution. R. Jay Magill Jr. discusses the rise of ASMR and the ways in which America has long contented itself with semblances of intimacy rather than the real thing. In her short story, Jessica Shabin looks for Lorrie Moore and the perfect metaphor. In “The Painter,” Jacob Rubin conjures a character named George, a well-known man who is also perhaps just a version of his father, or his sister, or himself.

This issue shifts our focus away from the original and on to the copy, away from the real thing and on to the approximation.

Editor, Quarterly Journal

Table of Contents