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The Order of Things

From Issue 49, The Ecstatic, Jay Nebel speaks of the spiders we often find within the predictable order of things. I hate spiders. There, I’ve said it. I hate walking face and teeth and nose into their webs while they spin and wrap and suck the blood out of flies. My mother brushes them into [...]

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Heart-aimed Arrows: On Christiane Ritter’s A Woman in the Polar Night

As winter presses on, we offer a literary journey to the northern fjords of Spitsbergen, in hopes that you will feel warmer upon your return. This piece, written by Stacy Carlson, first appeared in Issue 49, The Ecstatic.  I never doubted my vocation as a writer until I set foot in the Far North. I stepped [...]

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Ravelstein by Saul Bellow

Jon Raymond on Bellow’s last novel.

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A Conversation with Chimamande Ngozi Adichie

In light of news that Chimamande Ngozi Adichie features on “Flawless,” a new track from Beyoncé, we present Adichie in conversation with critic Parul Sehgal, from Issue 56.

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A Toast to Mary Szybist

A Poem by Mary Szybist

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3′ x 9.999˝

From Issue 53, The Portland/Brooklyn Issue, a reminder of why we love our Portland poets, even after they leave. hhhh 3′ x 9.999˝   Remarking remarks on a peg republic of wall, I can resist my own weight on braided wire. Double it, in the eggy heath.   Tinny whack to the dowel, occurring flat [...]

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The Weigh-In

From issue 43, The Games People Play x x The Weigh-In In retrospect my legs were long, two strong cylinders that pushed me up the stadium steps, my body bound with plastic wrap, the time running down. I liked to be under direction and duress, the stress of the short tick of the clock, the [...]

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A Man of His Times: Revisiting Alan Sillitoe

From Issue 30, Winter Reading Alan Sillitoe’s writing is uniquely musical, but it is a street rhythm, located in the English postindustrial town of Nottingham. His quick-witted dialogue parallels the quick thinking his characters need to survive. Their inner monologues, however, seethe with anger at those who circumscribe their lives, and with a constant ache [...]

Posted in From The Vault, Interviews

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Pound, Drunk on A Forty, Goes Off

This mid-summer day we bring you back to Winter Issue 30, where Jillian Weise’s potent and imploring words make our spine tingle in the cool of our air conditioner.    Pound, Drunk on A Forty, Goes Off by Jillian Weise   See here, what are all these birds doing in your verse, am I to think flight or fear? [...]

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Wild Plum

In honor of the mysterious  stranger who left a box of plums on our office doorstep, we bring you this quiet gift from Issue 39. hhhh Wild Plum ggggg by Jane Hirshfield llll A gray squirrel tests each plum with his nose, moving from one to another until he feasts.   It is like watching [...]

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Sheepshead

Continuing a weeklong celebration of some of our favorite staff contributions to the magazine over the years, Michelle Wildgen learns to play cards like sausage and discovers a Wisconsin tradition in the process. aaaa From our Games People Play issue. Something strange happened to me the second time I moved to Wisconsin. I’ve lived here [...]

Posted in Essays, From The Vault

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Faces of Pain

Continuing a weeklong celebration of some of our favorite staff contributions to the magazine over the years, we bring you Cheston Knapp’s real stone cold stunner of an essay. From our Portland/Brooklyn issue (all photos by Scott Binkley). hhh Faces of Pain jjjjffff  And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come [...]

Posted in Essays, From The Vault

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Sex & the Single Squirrel

Continuing our weeklong celebration of some of our favorite staff contributions to the magazine over the years, we get a little dirty with Elissa Schappell’s trip to a furrie convention. From our Sex Issue. *No animals were harmed in the making of this essay (we think).* hhhh Sex & The Single Squirrel gggg I have [...]

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On David Markson

Kicking off a weeklong celebration of old content some our favorite staff contributions to the magazine over the years, we revisit Rob Spillman’s slice of David Markson, which originally ran in our 10th Anniversary issue.  David Markson is going down fighting, and he’s not giving an inch to convention, zeitgeist, or potential sales. Born in [...]

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Smudge

This living brushstroke of a poem by Thomas Sayers Ellis was written in response to David Stern’s paintings at the Yeshiva University Museum in New York City. Sayer’s haunting language comes together, a graphite blurring, smearing and distorting, bringing us through the words on the page and into an eddy of ink, pooling into sinister, [...]

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What We Hunger For

Before devouring our Summer Reading issue next month, follow us back to Summer Reading 36, where author, Douglas Bauer, looks back on the life of food writer, Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher. Bauer remembers the week he met Fisher as a young man, when she inspired in him a profound hunger.   I am, as often, tempted to start a [...]

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Lydia Davis Dines Alone

10,000 cheers to Lydia Davis, who was awarded the Man Booker International Prize yesterday. Sir Christopher Ricks, chairman of the judges, said her “writings fling their lithe arms wide to embrace many a kind. Just how to categorise them? They have been called stories but could equally be miniatures, anecdotes, essays, jokes, parables, fables, texts, aphorisms [...]

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In The Light: Where Art and Longing Meet

Few recent publications have excited us more than James Salter’s All That Is. We all love the man, his sentences, the way he orders Cognac while petting a his pet Corgi who always travels with him to the bar (this might be a slight projection of unknown facts). The point is we have had Salter [...]

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Sharon Olds: On the Hearth of the Broken Home

To celebrate the Pulitzer Prize announcements yesterday, we thought it only fitting to share this stunning poem by Sharon Olds, whose collection, Stag’s Leap, won the prize for poetry. This poem was first published in issue 7.   Congratulations to all of the winners.  On the Hearth of the Broken Home by Sharon Olds Slowly fitting my pinky-tip down [...]

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Forward from Gravity’s Rainbow Illustrated

It’s no secret that Matt Kish has been scrawling his way down the Congo for the illustrated edition of Heart of Darkness (keep track of his journey by checking out his tumblr); but since the alchemy of turning words into pictures is in itself a bit of a trip, we bring you (from Issue 29), [...]

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Bottoms Up

We normally don’t dip into our recent issues for the Vault, but Namwali Serpell’s “Bottoms Up” immediately spring to mind when we came across this article on whacked out/crazy nontraditional forms of pleasure. So order you LovePalz Zeus today! I am sure telephone operators are standing by. And while you wait, you can read about the TouchyFeely, [...]

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The Life of Cards

From issue 33 (Fantastic Women), Jane Avrich’s sleight of hand. hhhhhh The Life of Cards hhhhh THE MAGICIAN WORE neither top hat nor tails, nor did he need them. The caramel glow of the ancient spotlight, the sixty-six pairs of eyes in the crowd—indeed, the force and motion of the magician’s body—were entirely fixed on [...]

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Fun is What

We bring you back to Issue 43, where Henry Alford rounds up a few Victorian parlor games and imagines their subsequent playing. It’s the perfect season to mix up some gin slings or some other bon-vivant worthy cocktail and take some passes at these delightfully lurid diversions.  In days of yore, there was no home [...]

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On The Ineptitude of Certain Hurricanes

From Issue 52, Cate Marvin

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Talk Nerdy To Me

From Issue 38, Matthew Dickman

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