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Obsession Sold Out

Issue #23, Spring 2005

Writing, painting, sculpting, putting together a literary magazine—you have to be a little obsessive, or maybe a lot obsessive to pull it off. Coming on the heels of Christo's Gates—twenty-four miles of orange banners marching through New York's Central Park—we can't help but think that the best works of art are born out of obsession. Andrew Hultkrans writes of his year-long all-consuming obsession with surveillance in America. Celebrated artisanal perfumer Mandy Atfel confesses her one true passion—the unearthly essence of jasmine. Pinckney Benedict's mesmerizing story "Mudman" tracks the fortunes of a jealous farmer whose rage conjures a monster. In "A Forest Path," Bill Gaston's narrator, "Lava," is completely consumed with Malcolm Lowry, who may or may not be his father. And the always remarkable Frank Bidart remembers a decades-old glimpse of flesh over which he still smolders in "Phenomenology of the Prick."

Amanda Gersh

STALK ME GENTLY • In a way all I ever wanted was for someone to stalk me—gently of course—but a little stalking is a lovely thing

Pinckney Benedict

MUDMAN • 'Leave her alone,' Snedegar told the mudman. The mudman chortled, a sound like water spattering in hot fat. A wasp crawled from its mouth, and the mudman sucked it soundlessly back in again.

Bill Gaston

A FOREST PATH • It is said taht Lowry's first shack, containing his only complete draft of Volcano, all his possessions, etc., was accidentally consumed by fire.

Lucia Nevai

END OF MESSAGES • Maybe it's me, but a funeral seems like the worst occasion to sell anyone a grand piano, let alone the bereaved.

Robert Arellano

THE TWO STEVENS • Let me tell you about me axe. It has an 11-and-1/2-inch blade with a paper-thin edge. But I use it not to chop so much as to bludgeon.

Kevin Canty

THEY WERE EXPENDABLE • I could not, without hurting their feelings, tell them that, really, they were making things worse for me, making me feel and think and talk.

Sergei Nosov

NABOB: A WRITER'S TALE, TRANSLATED BY D. GEORGEOLIANI AND MARK HALPERIN • Never in my life had I written on a toilet wall. Me, on a toilet wall? Hard to imagine. Nevertheless, I took the pencil and went. List of obsessions?

Frank Bidart

PNENOMENOLOGY OF THE PRICK

Erin Belieu

IN THE RED DRESS I WEAR TO YOUR FUNERAL #6
IN THE RED DRESS I WEAR TO YOUR FUNERAL #8

D.A. Powell

LIPSYNC

Darcie Dennigan

CITY OF GOD'S
THE DEPARTMENT OF TENDERNESS

Salvador Plascencia—Fiction

POLLINATING INSECTS • He watched as the bee threaded its way through Cameroon's hair, emerging on her stomach. He lifted the bee by its wings and pressed it into his arm.

Tiffany Noelle Fung—Poetry

A PERIMETER OF MERCURY
THE ODDITY PROBLEM

Andrew Hultkrans

UNRELIABLE HOMUNCULI AND OTHER IMPEDIMENTS • The little man stalking the author really, really wants the author to finish his long-overdue book proposal.

Montana Wojczuk

THE MAN WHO COULDN'T GROW UP • J.M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan, love of children and hatred of war.

Mandy Aftel

PERFUMED OBSESSION • A professional perfumer's true love: jasmine.

Chris Beha

A BRIEF SAMPLING OF OBSESSIVE WEB SITES
A LIST OF MANIAS

Albert Mobilio

OFF THE MAP: THE WAY OF SOME WORLDS Maps and destinations; gridded representations of life and death.

Malia Jensen

BEAR STORY

Jill Koenigsdorf

ON JAMES THURBER'S The Last Flower

Nathan Alling Long

SAMUEL R. DELANY'S The Motion of Light in Water

Rachel Cline

ON JESSAMYN WEST'S Cress Delahanty

Steve Almond

MY SOUL UPON THE GRILL • The ultimate grilled chicken—all others are pretenders.

Elissa Schappell

THE GREEN FAIRY • A slave to absinthe, the seductive, dangerous muse of Van Gogh, Rimbaud, and Picasso.

Dorothea Tanning

A LETTER TO THE POST OFFICE