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Evil is a frequently abused word, slung wantonly by politicians, religious leaders, and children alike. Perhaps that’s because evil is fundamentally a subjective concept: one man’s evil is another man’s happy vice. But true evil—when a person willfully inflicts physical or psychic pain on another person—is the raw stuff of much great art. In this issue we explore evil in all of its many facets. Chris Adrian’s story “Why Antichrist?” follows a teenager possessed, possibly by satanic forces. A more subtle evil creeps through the pages of Ron Rash’s rural, meth-scarred landscape in “Back of Beyond.” Tin House publisher Win McCormack interviews the Manson girl who slipped away from the charismatic cult leader months before the horrific murder spree in Topanga Canyon. And in his poem “Fire,” Nick Flynn takes on torture.
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