Ann Beattie

We (Cass’s former students, friends, past and present neighbors, and respected adversaries) had been invited to gather in Connecticut for the seventy-seventh birthday of Casswell Duncan Damaris by his wife, Charlene Andresson. (It’s important that a woman retain her maiden name, even if the concept of “the maiden” has been tainted by simple-minded people who’ve invented nonsense about the symbolism of unicorns and the plights of dashing knights).

Online Feature, Review
Justin Taylor

Here’s what I think it comes down to: the minimalists met with the most success, individually and in aggregate, as story writers. They came to prominence through magazine publications. Some (Carver, Hempel) never wrote novels, and even those who did have tended to fare better in the short form (Hannah, Beattie, Bobbie Ann Mason). Because Robison’s style is elliptical, and because her novels are short and appear so rarely (every ten years or so), it has been too easy for too long to consider Robison a member of this second category.

John Wray

For two days they followed the river, fording and refording it times without number, picking their way across it daintily where stones broke the surface, stumbling like mules through the current where circumstance left them no choice. The gorge grew wider and greener as the river descended and she passed the hours looking for songbirds along its banks, stopping and peering into the rushes whenever any movement caught her eye.

Sharon Olds

Every twenty years, I turn
and address you, not knowing who you were
or what you were. You had been three months
in utero, when our friend came to visit
with her virus which I caught and you died—or it may be
your inviableness had been conceived with you—
you might have been, all along, going to
last fourteen weeks, though I had felt,
as we lay on the living-room floor, the couch
pushed in front of the door at the pure gold
hour at the core of your big sister’s
nap, that you had taken deep.

Craft Lecture
Michael Cunningham

I teach writing. One of the great things about teaching writing is that, in the process of figuring out how to teach your students, you find you teach yourself. I’m still surprised at how much I gain by taking what I feel I simply know about writing and breaking it down into its elements in an attempt to render it cogent and comprehensible to others. As it turns out, there’s nothing like being compelled to explain what you do to help clarify your own thinking about what you do.

Lauren Elkin

I’m at the beginning of another kind of project too, a more personal one, a project of self-definition or self-assertion. It comes down to asking for more than I’ve had in my marriage, wondering if perhaps what I’ve been settling for is enough. Again: my future, and someone else’s, hang in the balance, here at the beginning—or is it somewhere toward the end?

Stacy Kranitz

Representing place is a complicated negotiation. How can a photographer demystify stereotypes, represent culture, sum up experience, and interpret memory and history? The following images are excerpted from As It Was Give(n) to Me, a book that attempts to answer that question using images of exploration and extraction in Appalachia today.

William Brewer

Something happened
said the derm after I explained how,
for weeks, my hair kept falling.
He said to think back a few months.
I said that my grandmother died in August
and he said that’s not traumatic enough,

Sidik Fofana

The first day of school they assigned me and Cassius with the new seventh-grade teacher, Mr. Broderick, for fifth period, and all I had to do was look him up and down once to tell he was gonna be a mess. White boy with no hair on his chin, smilin at his books.

Austen Leah Rosenfeld

Start with description.
Talk about the dark of the desert, the way the stars are grooves cut by ice skates.
Pretend it was November.
Decide that the wind came from a storm in the sea.
Imagine your mother was asleep, dreaming about foxes.
Tell us that a slot machine is just a night-blooming flower.

Megan Mayhew Bergman

The taxi took the curves of the unmarked army road over the mountain, muffler rattling. Hayes rolled down her window. The air was heavy with fragrance, something like wild dill, yellow and blooming by the road, bright against the scrub and dry brush. She looked down at an expanse of clouds that she knew was hiding a deep blue stretch of ocean.

The Conglomerate
Walt Evans

Dubus’s fiction is populated by people who’ve made big mistakes, the kind that come to define a life: murderers, rapists, absentee parents, lapsed Catholics, and whiskey priests. But the most self-lacerating introspection occurs among the most common of sinners—adulterers.

Archival Content, Poetry
Howard Nemerov

On a cold evening, summer almost gone,
I walked alone down where the railroad bridge
Divides the river from the estuary.
There was a silence over both the waters,
The river’s concentrated reach, the wide
Diffusion of the delta . . .

Fiction, Online Feature
Lisa Taddeo

There are wolves and there are foxes and there are ptarmigans and there are agents and there are women you can pay to kick you in the balls with the sharp patent toe of a shoe you bought them for that express purpose. There are politicians who are famous. There are famous actors and then there are men who are not only beautiful and charming but are born with something extra.

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