Scoundrel Time

The Blanket Room

—After Italo Calvino and Dorianne Laux When I’m inconsolable, I like to go to The Blanket Room™. A new one just opened at the Maple Heights Mall. They wrap you in a blanket and turn out the lights. Then...

Into that Dark Room Where the Fiction Gets Made: An Interview with Novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz

Jean Hanff Korelitz is the author of six novels including a personal favorite of mine, The White Rose, a contemporary take on the opera Der Rosenkavalier. Jean’s latest novel, The Devil and Webster, follows...

Incident at the Western Border

She vanished before they could shoot her: left only an atmosphere of mist, brume of body which blew inland in a myriad of droplets, a haze of nard and cinnamon touched softly with myrrh and cassia, floating...

Because They Could: How We Are Not Russia

  On February 27, 2015, a stone’s throw away from the ominous fishbone of the Kremlin’s Spasskaya Tower, they killed the charismatic and universally beloved leader of the Russian political opposition, the...

“In the increasingly convincing darkness / The words become palpable…" —John Ashbery

“Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.” —Grace Paley

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Depending on How You Look at It

In the weeks before Donald Trump became president of the United States, I travelled to Greece to volunteer and distribute some $35,000 in donations that a group of us from North Carolina had collected for humanitarian relief for refugees. These...

Welcome to My Highway

It was her last day, the last hours she’d spend a full night in that box. The gel on her chapped hands, the roar of traffic from the E-ZPass lanes. Was she ever really here? In a matter of time even the memory of the tollbooth would lose the smell...

Square Fictions

Around the time of the election, I started writing mostly square fictions about the president-elect. It began with one a day, then went to two, then three, then more. They were short because he has (we are told by many who know him) a small...

Shuffle Off

There was a time where I was breaking a lot of things I’d fixed, which is to say I was wasting second chances. I smoked myself right out of a position when the regional manager caught me puffing in the stockroom. Then when I found a job at a...

We Need a New Story

A few years ago, a writer friend gave me a bracelet that had a charm on it that said “stories save our souls.” I loved that phrase so much that I began to use it—and a variation (“stories save our lives”) when I signed books. I knew it was true...

I Lift My Lamp

  From the Oxford English Dictionary, digital edition. Asylum. < Latin asȳlum, < Greek ἄσῡλον refuge, sanctuary, neuter of adjective ἄσῡλος inviolable. 1. A sanctuary or inviolable place of refuge and protection for criminals and debtors...

Still Life w/ Gay Lil’ Patriots

yu so fun so danger so smoke so ready 2 deady [next stop: F I R E W O R K S spend $ & get &z off] we bubble buy blame bead up the sky w blood [the libertree thirsty & i wonder what this b 2 me] as yr local majikal hapahaole mite say a...

Murillo’s Saint Catherine, c. 1650

–Hospital de los Venerables, Sevilla She stares with a bearing – experience having brought her soul this far – and lifts a frond, one kind of sword, in one hand, effortless. In the other, clutched to her, the silver plated sword of her own...

Bonnet

The woman on the waste site tour bus wore the kind of bonnet my grandmother kept in her purse for emergencies. She squared her shoulders in front of us, the plastic kerchief knotted to her head and not a cloud in the sky. Our guide in charge of...

In the Dark Times

In the dark times Will there also be singing? Yes, there will be singing. About the dark times. —Bertolt Brecht There will be prayer, too, but to a different god, and dread will lurk in the songs we sing. Doom in the timpani no matter what the tune...

Congrats! The Revolution Is Now

buff buffe / buffer buff/reibu / buffrebufffring / & fervently awaitin ya pass       code o, word      ? we wonder how we will in2       existence: amazonial primal access & 1070p rejection      o’ taxes science will save ya ass / a seat...

Calm-Downers, Resisters, and Bags by the Door

“Jesus, what are we going to do now?” Out of the mouths of babes, or one babe in particular, comes the question du jour, and possibly du mois and de l’année, too. A day after the recent presidential election, what some grieving voters call...

The President Rewrites Classic Proverbs

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words really piss me off. Fuck you, Alec Baldwin. The tweet is mightier than the sword. Two’s company, three’s a crowd. Four is just Ivanka casually sitting in on this meeting. Don’t worry about...

How the World Really Feels About You

Extremely talented, good-looking, intelligent. You were light on your feet, unafraid to kiss a lady’s hand if she looked like she needed it, the picture of judiciousness and reserve. You would never choose our brothers over us, nor would you ever...