Summer Reading

Issue #60, Summer, 2014

The writer’s job is not simply to make the reader look at the world differently, but experience it in a new way. E.L. Doctorow says, “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader—not the fact that it is raining but the feeling of being rained on.” In their stories, Jamie Quatro, Ken Calhoun, and Joan Silber take you inside three wonderfully strange families, bathing us in details that make us feel as if we are with them. That rain isn’t always a gentle summer shower. Sometimes it’s a storm. This is what Adam Johnson does in his artful and disturbing short story, “Dark Meadow.” In the simplest terms, the story is about child pornography. Yet Johnson, who won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Orphan Master’s Son, moves beyond the sensationalism of the conceit and into the deeper realm of empathy and pathos, which is the stuff of true art. I am proud that we are publishing it.

Wherever you are reading this—on the beach, in a field of flowers, on the subway, sneaking it at the office—we hope that you have moments where time stops and art takes over.

A note about the digital versions: If you read on a Kindle, use the Mobipocket edition; for all other e-readers, use the ePub edition.

Print orders ship free by media mail.

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Jamie Quatro

BEDTIME STORY • I want to tell you guys a story, I say. One last bedtime story before you start leaving for college.

Jess Row

THE AX • So today it's snowing, and I want to write you a story that is as mild, as light to the touch, as this snow.

Joan Silber

ABOUT MY AUNT • This happens a lot—people travel and they find places they like so much they think they’ve risen to their best selves just by being there.

Manuel Gonzales

WHEN WE REALIZE WE ARE BROKE • When we realize we are broke, really and truly broke, we band together, my wife and I.

Jonathan Lee

BEFORE THE BOMBING • Before he put bombs in buildings he was Samuel James McDonnell, a baby born to grateful parents in the spring of 1960.

Kenneth Calhoun

PRIMAL SCENES • The official line was that my father was on sabbatical, sent south by the university to learn Spanish.

Adam Johnson

DARK MEADOW • I was up most of the night writing an article: Is Your Pornography Watching You?

Antonio Tabucchi

FESTIVAL, translated by Martha Cooley and Antonio Romani • I knew very well that in those years his was a country under surveillance, rather, a police state.

Morgan Parker

POEM MADE OF EMPTY PRESCRIPTION BOTTLES FROM THE GARBAGE IN FRONT OF BILL MURRAY'S HOUSE

Matthew Rohrer

COLLAGE
COLLAGE

Monica McClure

JACKING
WHITE GIRL WASTED

Rebecca Wadlinger

A HIGHLY PLEASURABLE FEELING
COMMUNAL BRAINS

Nick Flynn

ONCE THE ELEPHANT IS GONE
THE INCOMPREHENSIBILITY

Meg Freitag

A COURSE IN MIRACLES
WHAT SMAL DEATH SHINES UP FROM THE DIRT

Francesca Chabrier

from THE AXIOMS

Michael McGriff

WALKING THE PROPERTY LINE
I AM AN OX IN THE YEAR OF THE HORSE

Jen Levitt

LENA DUNHAM'S GIRLS
MODERN POEM

Kent Russell

GREET THE ENEMY • Tom Savini is the hierophant of horror, the guru of gore, a special effects mastermind. But does his bag of tricks contain a cure for night terrors?

Wayne Koestenbaum

ODD SECRETS OF THE LINE • It's simple, right? A line is a mark that spans the distance between two points. But a line also takes its shape as it goes, and so too does the author's interrogation of it.

Karl Ove Knausgaard

The world's largest literary sensation corresponded with Scott Esposito and together they covered a range of topics, including the menace of not writing, Hitler's bad reviews, and human excrement.

Aaron Hamburger

ON FRANK SARGESON'S The Collected Stories of Frank SargesonHere a truly New Zealand literature had its beginnings.

Mesha Maren

ON MARYSE HOLDER'S Give Sorrow WordsBriding the needs of the mind and the cravings of the body.

Shawn Vandor

ON NORMAN MAILER'S Of a Fire on the MoonA surefire way to prove we actually went to the moon would've been to send a journalist along for the ride.

Heather Hartley

ON SOPHIA LOREN'S In the Kitchen with LoveThis cookbook has a recipe for any occasion, like what to eat after you win an Oscar.

Katie Arnold-Ratliff

ON TESS SLESINGER'S On Being Told That Her Second Husband Has Taken His First LoverWriting is always hard, but perhaps particularly so if you choose to fictionalize your life.

Elizabeth Reichert

WHO'S AFRAID OF BOEUF EN DAUBE? • Savor a meal that evokes nostalgia for the long-banished idea of familial happiness.