Jan/Feb 2021

e c l e c t i c a
n o n f i c t i o n


(These are excerpts—click on the title to view the whole piece!)

Netflix Jew

We're supposed to assume that a cult is a cult, and we all know what that is, but having been accused of being in a cult myself because of my adopting an immortalist lifestyle back in my 20s, I don't see much clarity in the distinction. How exactly is Judaism, whether Shtisel's or my grandfather's, or any other religion, not a cult? There's no short answer to that one.

Joe Bardin

Father and Son
(Spotlight Runner-Up!)

The deserts of America are enormous. The cities planted in them have bizarrely large footprints. Irrigate the wasteland, plant citrus groves, and people will migrate for the heat. Then housing developments will chew up and spit out the orchards.

Wade Bell

The Experience of Absence

It was difficult to sound convincing, to be both the authority on sound judgment and the one going in because my thinking was disorganized. It was especially difficult to reassure him now because I didn't feel sick. Sick people didn't drive cars through scenic country like this—people on vacation did. I felt a little guilty.

Alison Iglehart

The Raffle Prize Winner

As can happen with land grabs and power struggles, there existed a geopolitical limbo between the two feuding nations, both claiming on official maps the in-between territory at the border for themselves. It began with reports of shots fired by soldiers stationed there. Subsequently on the news we learned about protests in each country, demonizing the citizens of the other: Peruvians tied monkeys representing Ecuadorians and Ecuadorians tied chickens representing Peruvians to the ends of sticks, the better to brandish them aloft and swing them about as they chanted xenophobic insults.

Marianna Marlowe

No Thyself

Maybe this happens to everyone. What I haven't worked out is why I like it, even when the wrong person is real. Some years ago I was sitting in a coffee shop, early for a meeting with a woman I didn't know so watching the door for that unmistakable "looking for someone looking" look. I knew her as soon as she walked in. "Megan?" I mouthed over the espresso cup clatter. "Dave?" she mouthed back, miming that she'd grab a cup and come over. We had a pleasant minute of getting-to-know-you before it emerged that this was Maggie I was getting to know, and she was looking for Ted. We'd both seen what we wanted to.

David Raney