Books Are Not Products, They Are Bridges: Challenging Linear Ideas of Success in Literary Publishing
by Janice Lee
I want to talk about the struggle of returning home.
That is, I want to talk about the challenges I faced in looking for a publisher for my new novel, Imagine a Death, and how this process forced me to examine my own beliefs and wounds around linear ideas of success and to begin to work towards healing and freedom from a limited imagination.
The Rock in the Grate
from All The Funny Little Packages: A Husband Meditates on the Mysterious Craft of Marriage
by Ben Miller
An outlandish luxury of innumerable stops and starts, elegant fade away shots and excruciating close-ups—that’s one definition of a long marriage I’m able to embrace.
In a week it is possible to together make enough mistakes to get off-track for years, with more years afterward to regain momentum or meander again in stupid old, or nasty new, directions. No other elective relationship takes a simple clock and does such absurd things to it because no other elective relationship is so exclusive (save possibly a third grade friendship), concentrating, while simultaneously diffusing, time. A marriage that lasts is a stirring that is also a settling, a haze and a lens finely ground, and through the smoky glass I peer again. In the ordinary course of affairs there’s not much place for muddling around in the riddle of what a life actually is, while all—even dullness, and especially riddles—can be useful to art. Words, the brightest ones, burn any fuel. Pages can talk to us about us like no human being.
Chloe is working on the watercolor—the same one, she tells me, she’d been meaning to finish for something like two years and is almost done working on, on the day before she heads out on tour for two weeks, though she tells me she’ll be done soon, working on the circular living room table with its set of chairs that looks like they could be from the sixties, like chartreuse seashells, while the CDs of The Low & Low, like their own sorts of shells, are all in their cases in the living room, having arrived in the mail not too long ago, to start shipping to everyone who preordered them—while I’m remembering the last time I had heard about someone who could turn water into something more than water.
Becoming Tokyo Rose
by Grace Lu
Shortly after my sophomore year of college, I found myself driving to a social event more nerve-wracking than my last final had been. It was the high school graduation party of an old friend. I wish I could say this nervousness stemmed from my fear of not recognizing other guests, but in reality, it stemmed from knowing I would. I wasn’t ready to make small talk with people who had once been a big part of my life. I dreaded awkward conversations with high school friends, worried they would painfully reveal what my formerly strong relationships had been reduced to.
The archeologist/my body in archeology
by Erin Ambrose
You kissed me hard – screwball hard – like you were digging for something. Have you ever felt searched like that? Searched and scavenged by lips that thrust through your skin like blood shovels, wrenching your gums, throttling your teeth, wrestling for gold? I waited for the gentleness to come, to settle. But you never had a gentle heart.
A Quarter Cup
by Molly Beach Murphy
Thanksgiving in Coastal Texas is always a gamble. Sometimes you need to bundle like a New England school kid, other afternoons roast above 90 degrees. And whatever you expect, it will be the opposite. It was on such a day, when I had dressed for Brooklyn and ended up with heatstroke, that my mother called my brother Matt and I into her room and pulled from the closet a breadbox sized plastic bin.
When I was a kid, my family spent two weeks every summer on Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island. We went there first when I was ten, and after that we went every summer until my sophomore year of college. At first, it was heaven—rocky beaches at the bottom of cliffs, sand beaches got to on paths that led past the ruins of an old mansion, ice cream in the afternoons, fresh corn. But when my parents divorced, it became less like heaven—parents taking turns, trying to (poorly) recreate a sense of summer joy; my mother with her new boyfriend; my father silent, mourning. And being on the island itself, an island where you had to make reservations months and months in advance to get your car on the ferry, an island where you couldn’t leave until the return ferry reservation came due, an island where your friends were far away and it felt like life was happening without you, the island became claustrophobic, almost panic inducing: what if we needed to leave and couldn’t get a spot on the ferry? We’d be trapped there forever, our eyes fixed always on the horizon.
“Calamity and Despair”
by Filiz Turhan
Back in the 90s, I worked as a private SAT tutor. I travelled to all kinds of jaw-dropping apartments around the city, raking in about $40 an hour, billed through It-Shall-Remain-Nameless Tutoring Agency that mainly served the populations of elite Manhattan private schools.