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There are these things that happen that we later look back upon with regret. Leaving my almost-fiancé was certainly one of these things. Keith and I had once vacationed in Waterford, Marseilles, Gettysburg, Stockholm, Puerto Rico. We’d stayed at a bed and breakfast named for Abraham Lincoln and another for an old war colonel. We’d [...]
An Essay by Adam Braver
An Essay by Adam Braver
We thought this excerpt from Elissa Schappell’s excellent essay from The Writer’s Notebook II might be both informative and inspirational to those of you taking part in our Shirley Jackson Short Story contest. “Great is the art of beginning,” Longfellow said, “but greater the art of ending.” It’s true. Beginnings, like first kisses, need only [...]
Who knew that by learning to knit, we also learn how to live?
My father was an airline pilot, a profession premised on a longing to be elsewhere.
When I was a young girl, I devoured books about horses. Black Beauty may have been the first – how better to draw in the reader than a story told in the voice of the creature himself? Sewall’s novel led me to Marguerite Henry’s Misty of Chincoteague and King of the Wind, Enid Bagnold’s National [...]
Once the tornado touches down, there’s only so much you can do, and before it touches down, it’s all too easy to ignore. You teach. You tell Kira to put away her headphones, turn her music off, switch her cellphone onto silent and won’t Brody please turn back around? You insist. You say, Listen. The [...]
On the first day of my M.F.A. degree program in non-fiction writing, my teacher made the following announcement: “Unless you’ve been fortunate enough to make out with your father, odds are good you don’t have memoir material.”
A few years back I learned of a shocking legend: when elders in rural Japan reached age 70 their sons carried them up a sacred mountain and left them on top to die of exposure and starvation. Obasute-yama, or “granny-dump mountain” is mentioned by a mysterious 11th century writer named Lady Sarashina and the 17th [...]
“I’ll never be able to separate that book from that day.”
Already late at 7:45 AM. I’m pretending to check my tires. Pinching them. Still wondering what exactly I’m supposed to be feeling, even after three months of owning the bike. I grimace in a way that I hope suggests studied concern and cock my head to signify the process of diagnosing a problem—just in case [...]
Karen Joy Fowler is probably best known for her 2005 saucy, satirical bestseller The Jane Austen Book Club, published by Plume and made into a film, although her just published novel, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, has garnered fabulous reviews and should be headed for prizes. We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves is strange, dark and wondrous, qualities in [...]
The U.S. pub date for the new edition of R. G. Waldeck’s Athene Place was Sunday, September 15th.
The Reykjavik Airport at 6:15am, I sleep on and off against my backpack. Drool pools against the fabric of my jacket-made-pillow in the shape of what kind of Rorschach ink blot? Wings, it appears to me, or something that flies. My skin is soft from a dip in the Blue Lagoon: a sulfur and algae [...]
This September marks the centenary of that seminal moment in English letters when E.M. Forster was goosed by George Merrill. It calls for celebration, parades perhaps. So much changes in that moment. A working-class man, Merrill found happiness as homemaker to socialist sage Edward Carpenter, and worked with him to create an Edwardian haven for [...]
The following is based on remarks delivered for the 2013 Oregon Legacy Author Series in Lincoln City, Oregon, January 2013. Speakers are asked, “How does the Oregon landscape influence your work?” One evening recently at a family gathering, I found myself alone in the living room, my four-year-old son asleep on my chest, while the [...]
Song of Myself is what philosophers call a “performative” utterance (like a promise or an oath).
I thought, If the writing life is so miserable, we might as well do it in good company.
In 1989, my family moved from Saigon to Quincy, Massachusetts, where I immediately began to learn essential lessons about being an American kid (hunks of stringy, dried squid were not the most appealing thing to trade during snack time at school). As I grew older, I began to foster an unconscious inclination toward narratives that [...]
“When I glance back at my life, all I seem to have done is chase after ridiculous things.” – Ivan Turgenev, in an 1856 letter to his friend Yelizaveta Lambert.
Mrs. Finch, our born-again Christian neighbor who never gave up on trying to convert us, the only Jews she’d ever met in our militantly Protestant 1960s community, had a son my age named Kyle. When we were five, Kyle blindfolded me and took me to the outer perimeter of our back yard. He [...]
So here it is at last, the distinguished thing. —Henry James Endings matter, according to top authorities. “On whatever sphere of being the mind of man may be intent at the time of death, thither will he go,” Krishna counsels Arjuna. Dante concurs, relating in Purgatorio’s fifth canto the blessed end of Buonconte da Montefeltro, [...]
This is the very best kind of story—a tale of imagined sophistication, of New York City apartments, of Hollywood has-beens, of family tragedy, of beatnik intellectuals, of private school crushes, of time traversed through fiction. Chocolates for Breakfast is an incredible novel, but the story of how it comes to exist in this form, to [...]
We cannot be in love, he tells me, because we were friends first and we have been friends for quite a long time. Since high school, he says, and I say, Eighth grade. He wore a Flogging Molly shirt to school every day and I always thought that was so stupid, because that band is [...]