Buried Treasure

by Elizabeth Lutyens, Editor in Chief

A reading at Malaprop's Bookstore, fall 2011, from The Great Smokies Review

Post-pandemic, the first movie that dragged me back to a theater was Barbie. I was promised I would love it, but at first, awash in all that pink, I did not. Soon enough though, the fantastical frosting of Barbie Land cracks, reality pokes through, and the fun of the fight begins.

The movie reminded me of another take on the Barbie theme that made me laugh, and think: Pam Ruatto’s personal essay in a past issue of this publication, “My Husband Hates the Way We Were.” During the family’s “commune years,” the nearby dump was a frequent destination for Pam and her young daughter. “Marcie was allowed to pick up any toy that she wanted, till she found, one afternoon, a boxed set of Barbie dolls, lying side-by-side in a box with a pink-flowered plastic suitcase, a bunch of Barbie doll dresses, and a purple sports car.”

Dream come true for Marcie, but Pam said No and attempted to explain why: “I didn’t want to get into the offensiveness of the huge nipple-less boobs and the tiny, indentured-servant feet. ‘They’re just not realistic,’ I told her.”

Pam did allow Marcie to keep the accessories, never suspecting that she would use them to create a Barbie Land beneath the house more imaginative than any of the movie’s fantasy worlds. Yet this world, in addition to the plastic adornments, was also flesh and blood. “Not unrealistic at all,” Marcie assured her horrified parents. Read the essay here.

That essay appeared in The Great Smokies Review, fall 2009—our first issue, fourteen years ago, but it would fit just as well in this one, our twenty-ninth. To prove that point, we have added a new feature to our table of contents: “From the Archives.” We will select a piece of nonfiction, fiction, or poetry—a treasure from the past—to publish a second time in each current issue. This is our tribute to timelessness, an essential for writing excellence.

In that premiere issue, we introduced the publication as “a place for good work.” In this current issue, we continue to present outstanding writing—treasures in plain sight—from members of the Great Smokies Writing Program community.

Elizabeth Lutyens taught advanced fiction in the Great Smokies Writing Program for eighteen years. For more about her, go to www.elizabethlutyenseditor.com