Jan/Feb 2004

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f i c t i o n


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


When they are eating dinner, they talk about vasectomies again. Then the journalist jokes about Tom's wife, a fellow-teenager on a camping holiday, out screwing someone at four o'clock in the morning and setting off alarms. Tom's children are disturbed upstairs, and he goes to cuddle them down.

Alex Keegan

India, September 11th, 2001

At nine, Champakali's brat Shankar was a poet of some promise. Perhaps it was the result of the opium that Champakali drugged him with as an infant, before shoving him under the rented 8-hour cot on which she serviced her customers. He was being taught the metrics and the intricacies of Urdu poetry by Maulvi Sahib, one of his mother's regulars.

Kavita Dorai


The whole literary universe had turned on me, or so I felt. I flew directly to Quebec and boarded the next flight to Havana. If Goytisolo wasn't around, I'd commiserate with Gabito García Márquez. At least he'd understand. He'd join me for a dozen stiff shots of Havana 70 and a slow-burning Churchill by Romeo y Julieta.

J. Delgado-Figueroa

Crazy Looking Women There

Eddy had a weak bladder too, sad to say. They were streaking through the southwest suburbs when a stretch of bad track nearly made him wet his pants. Sunset egged the windows, its ancient alchemy turning bungalows and strip malls to copper. The coach took on a crematory glow before combustion, the neat rows of crewcuts resembling singed wheat.

John O'Toole


When you made love to me, I lay clenched within myself. Once afterwards, stretched beside me, you spoke out of the dark: "Every so often you realize that you're still alone, and then life seems so terrible." Seized by desolation, I broke into sobs. You held me then, soothing me, telling me how sorry you were for speaking so thoughtlessly. I didn't have the courage to admit I'd cried at hearing you voice the truth.

Nita Sembrowich


As I drive, I tap my father on the knee to comfort him. He's wearing his hound's-tooth pants, his best ones. He hasn't worn them since the day, maybe ten years ago, we buried the dog in the backyard, and I can tell they haven't been cleaned. I see little black hairs stuck on his knees, and little green spots from kneeling on the grass.

Diane Zinna

Dust and Ashes

Any minute now, Ma would peel off the girl's wet clothes and send him to fetch Doc Pepperbone. So sure was Parrish about what was to follow that he need not listen when his mother told him to take Big Road instead of hillier High Spring. It was a blessing and a curse, this knowledge he possessed about things yet to come. And when the girl's legs kicked free of her mud-splattered skirts, he knew he'd pause in the doorway and sneak a backward look.

Carole Lanham


Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, any little morsel that got wrapped up or boxed for at-home consumption just ended up getting thrown out at the end of the week, or maybe fed to the cat if someone thought about it. But of course Dominga would insist on taking it; she came from a family where every bit of food was sacred.

Blake Butler

Renovating the End of Time

Times were on the move though. Igor Pavlovich was not resentful. He was not foolish enough for that. Everything that happened, happened for the best, he fervently believed. Odessa was changing in two directions: rebuilding its past and constructing its future, all at once. And until today, Igor Pavlovich had paid no attention to the shifting world outside his flat.

Troy Morash