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Issue #16, 2003
Reading a great story is like falling in love with a stranger on a train. In your complete absorption you miss your stop, pour coffee down your shirt, forget your own name—what could be more sublime? Stuart Dybek's breathtaking novella Breasts is guaranteed to send you many stops past your destination. In fact, we strongly suggest that you spirit this issue off someplace warm and safe, like the beach, park, or any other clean, well-lit, stationary locale. Like Stuart Dybek, Joy Williams and Charles Baxter reaffirm our belief in the power of fiction. Not as solace or balm, but as a challenge to see and hear and think clearly, to fine-tune what one does, and doesn't believe in. Also, make sure to read Gary Greenberg's moving account of adopting a baby from the wrong side of the tracks, a passionate essay that raises difficult questions about fertility, race, class, and the myriad choices facing prospective parents.
Charles Baxter, Joy Williams, Stuart Drybek, Howard Hunt, John Aiello, Rebecca Barry, Melanie Rae Thon
AN EXCERPT FROM THE NOVEL, SAUL AND PATSY • She smiled at him, to tease him, to test out her power, to give him an anguished memory tonight, when he was in bed and couldn't sleep, thinking of her, in the density of his empty, stupid life.
FORTUNE • She was attracted to James, to his deep-set eyes and pale perfect skin, but none of them were lovers. If any of them had been lovers, it would have spoiled everything.
BREASTS • 'Stevo, when they ask how it happened say you fell of your bike.'
SOVIETSKI! • Glasses are lined up and more champagne is uncorked, and Magda, the most prestigious of the prestige girlfriends, heats up a big pan of svaråk, or hot wine.
NOTHING ELSE MATTERS • Some say they hear themselves scream like a stranger, like a voice coming from ten feet behind them, raising the hackles and throwing the heart up into the throat. But I knew I was speaking to you.
HOW TO SAVE A WOUNDED BIRD • I stare at his tight body, his muscled face, and wonder if he ever kissed my husband.
THE MILK OF LILACS: FOR MY MOTHER AND THE THIEF • We were two, my mother and I, and Daddy was in the barn, four days gone, but not buried.
Pablo Neruda • Translated by Paul Muldoon, Karl Kirchwey, Carl Phillips, Stefi Weisburd, Benjamin Gantcher, Jason Schneiderman, Nagami Atsuko • Translated by Hiroaki Sato
THREE CHILDREN DRAW THE PERSEUS OF CANOVA
RODEO: SADDLE POINT
EXIT EXPLOSIVE AS ENTRY
DESCENDING TO 'HELL VALLEY' IN THE NIPPARA STALACTITE CAVE
Regan Good talks to Marilynne Robinson about the writer's duty to rub readers the wrong way, her celebrated novel Housekeeping, its long-awaited follow-up, and how Calvinism gets a raw deal.
Lost and Found:
Paul Collins, David Lehman, Anna Keesey, Tiffany Lee Brown
ON GREG TATE'S 11 YEARS, 9 MONTHS, AND 5 DAYS: BURGER STORE EPISODES AND FRUSTRATIONS
ON ALEXANDER KLEIN'S THE COUNTERFEIT TRAITOR
ON WILLIAM MAXWELL'S TIME WILL DARKEN IT
ON NARRATIVE OF A VOYAGE TO SENEGAL by J.B. HENRY SAVIGNY and ALEXANDER CORREARD SCHOOLCRAFT
FOUR STOPS ON A BIGFOOT HUNT • At a meeting of the Tri-State Bigfoot Study Group, the author discovers that love is a far more tactile thing than Bigfoot.
LITTLE BROWN SHACK • The author goes through a parental audition with a birth mother and explores his and society's perceptions of race, class, cultural imperialism, fertility, and adoption.
RUMMY • Rum's checkered past: Thomas Jefferson was a rummy--why can't the author be one too?
PIE • The author muses on apple pie, parents, and poetry.
The Last Word:
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: An excerpt from the novel, I WAS HOWARD HUGHES