Introduction: End Notes

Megan Milks

This is the Birkensnake 6 that doesn’t end but goes on and on, my friend. When Miodrag and I put together a call for submissions for a volume of Neverending Tales, we were curious to see what kinds of circuitous, cyclical, recurrent, endless, asymptotic narratives we might attract. We received all kinds, and many more than we expected. The issue we’ve created collects tales that coil like rattlesnakes, tales that swallow themselves whole, tales of infinity and immortality and histories repeating. These stories imagine their characters in everlasting sleep, in everlasting hell, in the uncertain limbo of being kidnapped into someone else’s life. They bend time and space and the body; they ask what forever feels like and what yesterday feels like today.

Together, these tales of endlessness tell us something about the endlessness of story itself, the ways in which we cannot move past yesterday or see beyond today’s horizon. Like James Tadd Adcox’s inescapable Infinity Room, story stretches out wide and unceasing: “we have been in it our entire lives.” In their obsessions with endlessness, these tales also tell us something about ends: that they are a privilege and a sham, that resolution is our phantom limb, there and not there, asserting itself again and again. There are no endings and there are infinite endings. Which ending do you choose?

We’ve worked on this for a year and the project has arrived at its end, which is of course another beginning. Here it is, for you, to begin again (and again and again).