Dissonant Dispatches for a Disquiet Nation: On Steve Erickson’s Fiction

Shadowbahn cover, but distorted

Describing Steve Erickson’s fiction is no easy task. He’s a writer who regularly wrestles with big ideas, but he’s equally at home getting under the skin of his characters, embracing their contradictions, their messiness, and their essential humanity. Among his greatest talents–and one that’s boldly on display in his 2017 novel, Shadowbahn–is his ability to explore uncomfortable moments in time, and to tap into what makes certain chapters in recent (and not-so-recent) history compelling, resonant, or discomfiting for so many of us. 

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Sunday Stories: “Homeowners’ Association”

wood grain

Homeowners’ Association
by Alicia Oltuski

We were watching House Brothers or House Hunters in Margaret Thatcher’s parents’ living room—none of us were cool enough to go on real spring break or nice enough to go on Alternative Spring Break (we called her Margaret Thatcher because her name was Margaret and someone, maybe a teacher, had said Margaret Thatcher in class once and my takeaway from ninth grade was that a nickname was like a grab)— and I was pretty bored listening to a couple about to drop their first baby complaining about dirty carpets or something. I was always bored watching house shows—I’m sure Dom was, too—but we were at an age when it felt, I don’t know, hot to do something you didn’t want to do for a girl. I was in the kitchen taking a break. Dom kept saying, “When’s your mom getting home?” and Margaret Thatcher was about to catch on that he was trying to steal another one of her fountain pens from the den. It was my opinion that if he was going to take something, it should be money, but Dom said, did I see twenty hundreds hanging out on their table? And he was right.

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