“When I want to be ambushed, captured, thrust into a strange and vivid world, and tossed aloft until I cannot stand it, until everything is at stake and life feels almost unbearably vivid, I do something simple. I read short stories.” Electric Literature has posted Ben Marcus‘s “paean to the contemporary American short story,” which doubles as the introduction to New American Stories and does a pretty good job of capturing just what it is we love about reading fiction.
“There was an inefficient system in place, and what I did was subvert it by an external rotation of reluctant holly jollies. Nasally, I came to understand that light is a thing that is produced through the collision of particulates, and boy isn’t that the truth.” As part of their year-end review, McSweeney’s republished their ten most popular pieces of 2014, including the above. Its title? “Donald Barthelme Narrates the Progress of the Reindeer.”
I have a short story in the latest issue of Avery, a young literary magazine I’ve written about before. Avery 4 also includes fiction by Hannah Tinti, Kevin Canty, Rumaan Alam, Samar Fitzgerald, Sophie Rosenblum, Scott Garson, Callie Collins, James Iredell, Jessica Breheny, Sean Walsh, Anna Villegas, and Michael Bourdaghs. It’s wonderful to have found my story such a sleek and beautiful home, filled with so much good company.Here’s the opening of my tale, called “A Love to Calm the Body”: My grandmother fell in love with her doctor. She liked the way he scrubbed his hands. He also washed his forearms, held them wet in front of his body before taking them to the towel. My grandmother had a weekly appointment; she’d been diagnosed with Hysteria – an excess of emotion, a deep feminine sadness. This was in 1899, when my grandmother was twenty-three, two years married. My mother was only an idea then, hovering at the edges. I wasn’t anything at all.Want to read more? You can order the issue online here.
“America has always been able to countenance beggars, short-con men, and nine-to-fivers who just can’t get ahead, but we’ve never known what to do with the type of person who could have been really big but chose not to make the concessions required.” The Believer takes a look at the paradox of Nelson Algren.
“It’s like a massive piece of denim, and with that denim you can make something really cool. You can make a jacket, you can make some cool jeans, or you can make a cushion or a cover.” When The New York Times decides it wants to define “punk,” you’d better get ready for some cringe-worthy responses. Here’s a Millions piece on Viv Albertine, author of Clothes, Clothes, Clothes, Music, Music, Music, Boys, Boys, Boys and no stranger to punk rock.