"Dee Bukowski" by Michelle Ross

"Dee Bukowski" by Michelle Ross

by Michelle Ross

You people read about our town in the news—first the rape allegations, then Dolly Molly, then the car accident—and you think you know what happened. You think you know something about who we are. Reporters come here in their shiny cars and their jewel-toned dress suits, they ask a few questions, they spin a few stories, and now everyone from feminist bloggers to my annoying Aunt Monona, in Branson, Missouri, to random douchebags on social media thinks they know everything there is to know about us. 

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What Is and What Will Ever Be

What Is and What Will Ever Be

by Zack Graham

What is a ghost? Is it an apparition that appears at night to frighten us? Is it a spirit at unrest, refusing to pass on to the next life until it settles a score with our world? Are ghosts corporeal or bodiless? Real or imagined? Alive or dead? Nell Freudenberger tackles these questions in her third novel Lost and Wanted, which centers around Helen Clapp, a brilliant physicist and single mother coping with the sudden death of Charlie, a black Hollywood screenwriter and Helen’s best friend from college.

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"Sterling Place" by Aarti Monteiro

"Sterling Place" by Aarti Monteiro

by Aarti Monteiro

They met the year Rani started taking photographs. She had just bought a used digital camera, and took every chance she had to walk around Brooklyn with it. She was coming home from one of these walks when she noticed an older woman outside her building on Sterling Place digging through a purse. The woman wore a maroon coat and stood next to a full cart of groceries, plastic bags bulging from the grates. Her white hair stuck out underneath a lopsided hat. Rani jerked open the front door and held it for her neighbor.

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"The Moan" by David Ryan

"The Moan" by David Ryan

by David Ryan

Some of the boxes aren’t hers. It’s some mix-up with the movers. But it’s unclear how they couldn’t be. Could she simply have forgotten the things inside them? She’s begun seeing her life as a story lately—one from which she has stepped back as certain narrative threads, once her own, wind their way along without her. It’s a certain age she’s experiencing. The story of her life, its narrator drifting, as if away from her. These boxes, I mean, some of them. This one with the dolls. She’s never seen these dolls. There must be a perfectly good explanation. It’s not that she can’t recall. No. It can’t be that.

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Varieties of Estrangement, Intro

Varieties of Estrangement, Intro

by J.T. Price

Let us ask ourselves, Is there not already enough estrangement in the world? Sometimes, though, the familiar feels all too suffocating. Sometimes, we long for change. And no change comes without estrangement, of distancing from who or what we were … whether or not we recognize as much in the moment of its happening. Dante in the dark wood; Isabel Archer betrothed to Osmond in Rome; Ruthie and Lucille keeping house under the half-watchful eye of their aunt Sylvie; Benjamin Braddock floating in his parents’ pool; Ryder the famous pianist sidetracked from a crowning hometown performance by obligation after obligation

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Upstate Dispatch: One Heard Road

Upstate Dispatch: One Heard Road

by Harris Lahti

There is Tom the carpenter, Jim the plumber, and Harry the heating guy whose hunting dog recently bit his nose off. Ladybird still sleeps in the bed, he tells me. Wasn’t her fault. 

The bandages on the top part of his nose slip down while he talks. The bridge of his swollen nose is clearly not attached to his face. Each time he turns away, I can see the eyelashes blinking on the other side. 

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Mei's Crow

Mei's Crow

by Siena Oristaglio

The room is as dark as a crow.

A bright light appears, bathing a group of figures. They pose along a bench, their gazes fixed into empty space.

Strange sounds permeate the room — news clips, low voices, musical snippets, static — a radio on seek. The group remains still.

Far behind them, two figures emerge. One, legs spread, appears to give birth to the other.

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The opening to Pingmei Lan's "Cicadas and the Dead Chairman"

The opening to Pingmei Lan's "Cicadas and the Dead Chairman"

by Pingmei Lan

That summer when Chairman Mao died I saw a funeral for the first time, a national one. It had gone on for weeks. Everywhere I turned people were wearing black armbands and making white paper flowers. The usual sea of blue Mao suits seemed to be foaming, churning, shaping into dark and light swells. Thousands of mourning wreaths blanketed Tiananmen Square, eventually spilling down to the sidewalks of Chang’an Avenue. For days, then weeks, it looked like snow in summer.

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A Single Mind

A Single Mind

by Tess Crain

Some of the best novelists in the Americas and Europe have written about chess—yet one of the best chess novels, Chess Story (published in German as Schachnovelle; also known as The Royal Game) by Stefan Zweig, was written by an otherwise less than superlative author.

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Why You Love New York

Why You Love New York

by Zack Graham

“You, Very Young in New York,” a poem by Hannah Sullivan, will remind you of why you live in New York. It will remind you why you struggle through winter after winter, why you wait underground for a train that may never come, why sometimes, despite living in the biggest city in America, you feel so alone. In short, “You, Very Young in New York” is the perfect remedy for a brutal New York February.

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Ivoire's Flamingo

Ivoire's Flamingo

by Siena Oristaglio

I recognize the bold colors and simple, graphic drawing style. A hot pink bonfire radiates from the base of what appears to be a vintage wooden paper cutter. The object hangs on the wall across the room from me, its broad handle jutting into the space.

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"Never Complain and Never Explain"

"Never Complain and Never Explain"

by Robb Todd

A silver-bearded man stands in the middle of a sidewalk spotted with gum, a bamboo rice paddy hat tilted on his head, and he cups his hands at his waist and asks in monotone: “Can you help me? I’m poor.”


I pull a banana from my coat pocket and hand it to him, and he says, “Everything you need to know about life you can learn by watching animals,” and he peels the banana by pinching off the black spot at the bottom, not by pulling the stem. “I speak several languages, including toddler, and I’ve picked flowers from rhinoceros horns. Every ritual is forced upon us.”

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The Shame of Reading

The Shame of Reading

by Tess Crain

This past year, I set out to read a hundred books. All had to count, more or less, however subjectively, as “literature.” As I had read fifty-two not without effort the previous year, the goal was to read more, not more quickly; and since my schedule had not changed in any major way, doubling this number required I make time… mainly by skipping parties, putting off work, and puttering less. The project was self-conscious but—books being central to my life as a writer—seemed worthwhile.

Time began to register in volumes…

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