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No. 211 Winter 2014

Sam Savage, Cigarettes

My landlady stands in the doorway, one hand braced on the jamb, breathless from climbing the two flights of stairs to my room. She’s come up to bum a cigarette. It’s the same old story. Her doctor ...

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh, Metaphor of the Falling Cat

What came back specifically and vividly was the comic-book shop in New Jersey that my brother took me to soon after he’d gotten his driver’s license. It was forty miles outside of the city and housed in a ...

Joe Dunthorne, The Line

I felt the mattress shift as Marie yelled for her husband. “Leebo!” she said. “Leebo!” “Yes, dear,” he called through the door. “Ray and I are in bed here and absolutely ...

Ottessa Moshfegh, Slumming

Half a dozen years had passed since that first summer in Alna, and almost nothing had changed. The town was still full of young people crashing junk cars, dirty diapers littering the parking lots. There were ...

Karl Ove Knausgaard, Critic, Sixteen

I had experienced blackouts ever since I first started drinking. That was the summer I finished tenth grade, at the Norway Cup, when I just laughed and laughed, a momentous experience; being drunk took me to places ...

No. 210 Fall 2014

Alejandro Zambra, Long Distance

The classes at the technical-training institute, meanwhile, improved. I started to use my glasses so that I could pay more attention to Pamela. A pair of dimples insinuated themselves into her cheeks, and the way she ...

Atticus Lish, Jimmy

Rikers could make you deaf. For weeks after his release, he shouted. It turned his volume up. He somehow found himself in exchanges with other men on the subway or on the street who had passed through the jail as ...

Rachel Cusk, Outline: Part 4

Illustration: Samantha Hahn.   She had hardly done any writing lately—not that you got rich from writing plays, at least not the kind of plays she wrote. But something had happened to her writing. ...

David Gates, Locals

When I was nineteen years old, I dropped out of the Berklee College of Music, where I’d been studying guitar—the one thing I’d ever been halfway good at—to tour with a band that wanted a ...

No. 209 Summer 2014

Zadie Smith, Big Week

The name on the card was Clark: they were to meet in the ten-minute waiting zone just outside departures. But Clark was late and the morning frigid. McRae got back in his car, drove around, parked in the lot, and ...

Garth Greenwell, Gospodar

It would have made me laugh in English, I think, the word he used for himself and that he insisted I use for him—not that he had had to insist, of course, I would call him whatever he wanted. But in his ...

Shelly Oria, My Wife, in Converse

9. The last time we had sex, it was cold out and they said a storm was coming. My wife was shivering in fear, making a list to steady herself. For a while I was trying to cross things off—candles, eight ...

Rachel Cusk, Outline: Part 3

Mixed messages, my neighbor continued, as we approached the cove and started to slow down, were a cruel plot device that did sometimes have their counterpart in life: his own brother, the one who had died a few years ...

Ottessa Moshfegh, No Place for Good People

A year after my wife died, I took a job at Offerings, a residential facility for adults with moderate developmental disabilities. They all came from wealthy families. They were slow, of course. You can call them ...

J. D. Daniels, Close Encounters

For a long time he had been the kind of person who didn’t have a cell phone. But one evening after dinner his wife had become enraged and had said, When are you going to get a cell phone, and he had said, I ...

No. 208 Spring 2014

Bill Cotter, The Window Lion

Walter, who quietly practiced oboe during reasonable hours, came out of his apartment early one morning to drive to a dress rehearsal for Vivaldi’s Concerto for Oboe and Orchestra in C Major, RV 451, for which ...

Rachel Cusk, Outline: Part 2

These days, he said, I live very simply. In the mornings, at sunrise, I drive to a place I know twenty minutes outside of Athens and I swim all the way across the bay and all the way back again. In the evenings I sit ...

Zadie Smith, Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets

Aside from the nights she worked, Miss Adele tried not to mess much with the East Side. She’d had the same sunny rent-controlled studio apartment on Tenth Avenue and Twenty-Third since ’93, and loved the ...

Ben Lerner, Specimen Days

It was as if, by the time I exhaled, I was already a little too high, my breathing labored, and the speed and cadence of the speech around me hard to follow. I stood up suddenly, but then decided I didn’t want ...

Luke Mogelson, To the Lake

It was going on a month that Lilly had been staying with her parents, Bill and Caroline, at their lake house in Vermont. Although Bill had been a full-bird colonel in the United States Army, there was only one ...

No. 207 Winter 2013

Rachel Cusk, Outline: Part 1

Illustration by Samantha Hahn.   Ryan and his brother were now effectively members of two different social classes, and while Ryan went off to Dublin to take up a university teaching post, Kevin returned to ...

Lydia Davis, The Seals

I could share her when she was alive. When she was alive, her presence was endless, time with her was endless, time was endless. Our mother was very old already, and when we children stopped to think about how long ...

Nell Freudenberger, Hover

I can’t help feeling that other people had better reasons for their breakups than we did. (This is characteristic of me, Drew would say, the way I am always comparing. How can you be happy if you’re ...

J. D. Daniels, Empathy

Edgar had been a theology student, and a bicycle messenger, and a junk-bonds trader, and now he was working on his master’s degree. His new ambition was to become a kindergarten teacher. He felt he needed to ...

Jenny Offill, Magic and Dread

My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabokov didn’t ...

Ottessa Moshfegh, A Dark and Winding Road

It wouldn’t be fair to call me a snob and my brother trash, but it wouldn’t be far from accurate. He called himself MJ, and I went by Charles. As a child I played clarinet, chess. Our parents bought MJ a ...

Ben Jahn, The NPR Three-Minute Fiction Contest

Three times a year, the National Public Radio show Weekends on All Things Considered holds a fiction contest in which listeners from across the country submit stories that can be read aloud in less than three ...

No. 206 Fall 2013

Bill Cotter, Tammy

Thomas has said nothing the entire session. He leans back in the metal folding chair that he prefers. A year ago, for Thomas’s first appointment, Dr. Lena Novak borrowed the chair from a colleague and family ...

Christine Smallwood, Reading Comprehension

Quixotic : Pragmatic :: Dispassionate : ______.Traducer : Fealty :: Heretic : ______.Original : Simulacrum :: Zenith : ______.   The Verbal Metrics Department filled a single corridor of Building M, a squat ...

Andrew Martin, Cool for America

I snapped my leg in two and lost the summer—six months on crutches and I’d be lucky if I didn’t limp for the rest of my life. I went to the ground for a slide tackle in a pickup soccer game and felt ...

Benjamin Nugent, God

We called her God because she wrote a poem about how Caleb Newton ejaculated prematurely the night she slept with him, and because she shared the poem with her friends. Caleb was the president of our fraternity. ...

Ottessa Moshfegh, The Weirdos Full Text

On our first date, he bought me a taco, talked at length about the ancients’ theories of light, how it streams at angles to align events in space and time, that it is the source of all information, determines ...

No. 205 Summer 2013

Lisa Rubenson, The NPR Three-Minute Fiction Contest

Gillian Linden, Pests

In the afternoon, the dog trainer, Anna, arrived to work on “leave it” and “drop it” and review what they’d learned about biting. She left a yellow slicker and a pair of pink boots in ...

Emma Cline, Marion Full Text

Cars the color of melons and tangerines sizzled in cul-de-sac driveways. Dogs lay belly-up and heaving in the shade. It was cooler in the hills, where Marion’s family lived. Everyone who stayed at their ranch ...

Lydia Davis, Five Stories

IF AT THE WEDDING (AT THE ZOO)   If we hadn’t stopped on our way to the ceremony to look at the pen of black pigs, we wouldn’t have seen the very large pig lunge at the smaller one, to force him ...

Robert Walser, From the Essays of Fritz Kocher

AUTUMN   When autumn comes, the leaves fall off of the trees onto the ground. Actually, I should say it like this: When the leaves fall, autumn is here. I have to work on improving my style. Last time the ...

David Gates, The Curse of the Davenports

I’d come back to Connecticut just once: to stand with my mother and Wayne—Phyllis was already a liability in public—at the veterans’ cemetery in Middletown. My mother sold our house in West ...

Ben Lerner, False Spring

Eventually I reached the park and walked into it only far enough to find a bench and sit down and watch the nannies, all of whom were black or brown, push around white kids in expensive strollers. I imagined trying ...

No. 204 Spring 2013

Adelaide Docx, Musicians Afloat in the Night Sky

“We’re always hearing that classical music is closing itself off, audiences are declining, people are distracted, no one can relate. But that’s nonsense. Mozart toured Europe for years looking for ...

Mark Leyner, Sizzle Real

TIGHT SHOT OF ENGLEMAN   ENGLEMAN           You’re an “it girl” … Oh yes you are, yes you are. I know you hate ...

David Gates, An Actor Prepares

Kenny Donnelly was at Circle in the Square at the same time as me, and he always tried to throw work my way. You might have called him a friend too. Last spring I was picking up extra money doing radio commercials ...

Ottessa Moshfegh, Bettering Myself Full Text

My classroom was on the first floor, next to the nuns’ lounge. I used their bathroom to puke in the mornings. One nun always dusted the toilet seat with talcum powder. Another nun plugged the sink and filled it ...

Tess Wheelwright, Do You Realize??

He was a very upright sort of American. Not uptight—he wore his brown hair shaggy; he often smoked a bowl and then another and pulled Neil Young up on iTunes, painted a picture or fooled around on his acoustic ...

Adam O’Fallon Price, Sandstorm

His second semester of teaching Intro to Creative Writing, he met Mark Peltz. Peltz was an undergraduate, although old for it, in his late twenties. He had recently gotten out of the army and reenrolled to finish his ...

No. 203 Winter 2012

Sarah Frisch, Housebreaking Full Text

Nothing is lost, and all is won, by a right estimate of what is real.      —Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures   Seamus lived in Wheaton, Maryland, ...

Marc Sheehan, The NPR Three-Minute Fiction Contest Full Text

The Dauphin   Three times a year, the National Public Radio show Weekends on All Things Considered holds a fiction contest in which listeners from across the country submit stories that can be read aloud in ...

Rachel Kushner, Blanks

When I had first moved to New York from Reno, I found an apartment on Mulberry Street and planned to make films with the camera I never returned to the art department at the University of Nevada, a Bolex Pro. I ...

Tim Parks, The Tangling Point

Before the dinner, my wife told me that her boss’s daughter was obsessed by dogs. Her parents were worried about it, more than worried. In fact, they had asked whether I might be able to help. I remarked that I ...

Peter Orner, The Vac-Haul

Larry Phoebus worked on the Sanitation side.He drove an enormous white truck with an enormous, bulbous hose attached to the end of it. It was called the Vac-Haul. It was rumored to have cost the taxpayers of Highland ...

James Salter, Virginia

In a mauve, flowered gown that bared one plump shoulder and impatiently kicking at the dogs, Liz Bohannon opened the door. She had been a deity once and was still beautiful. As Amussen kissed her, she said, ...

No. 202 Fall 2012

Jim Gavin, Bewildered Decisions in Times of Mercantile Terror

The pub was in the Richmond. It was nice and warm inside, and the walls were decorated with portraits of poets and rebels. He had been here a few times before with Nora, who described it as “a proper ...

Peter Orner, Foley’s Pond

Nate Zamost took that week off school. We wondered what he did those long days other than the funeral, which didn’t take more than a few hours. The Zamosts lived in one of those houses just across the fence ...

Sam Savage, The Meininger Nude

What is the point of minor artists? What justification, what possible excuse? The litter, the mountains of waste product churned out by so-called artists, self-called artists, who aren’t artists at all but ...

Ottessa Moshfegh, Disgust Full Text

Every day at noon Mr. Wu walked through the back alley, past the stinking ravine and the firecracker salesman and the old temple now used as a kind of flophouse for the farmworkers who came in from the country to ...

David Gordon, Man-Boob Summer

I rose at eight, so that my parents wouldn’t think I was a bum, and sat at my little desk, really a folding snack table in the guest room, doing the crossword until they left for work, when I sometimes took a ...

No. 201 Summer 2012

Sam Lipsyte, This Appointment Occurs in the Past

Davis called, told me he was dying. He said his case was—here was essence of Davis—time sensitive. “Come visit,” he said. “Bid farewell to the ragged rider.” “You?” ...

Ann Beattie, The Astonished Woodchopper

“I find it hard to believe Dolph would have sex outside of marriage,” Jen said. “He’s such a prude.” “Well, we don’t know that they have had sex,” John said. ...

No. 200 Spring 2012

David Means, The Chair

... I stayed quiet and thought about how just that morning I had gone down and looked out the window at the river and thought it was strange that in the last two weeks Sharon had come home late each night, arriving ...

Matt Sumell, Toast

... I suck at making decisions. My younger brother, on the other hand, doesn’t. He slept with three women, decided he liked the third, and married her. This is despite our on-her-deathbed-in-the-den mother ...

Lorrie Moore, Wings

The sublet she and Dench were in now was a nice one, a fluke, a modern, flat-roofed, stone-and-redwood ranch house with a carport, in a neighborhood that was not far from the hospital and was therefore full of ...

No. 199 Winter 2011

Paul Murray, That's My Bike!

He had a fierce temper on him, did Chips, and when he lost the head there was only one way to get it back. I signaled to Wayne to get a pint over to him quick. “Fast-forward” a minute or two, and there he ...

Clarice Lispector, Two Stories

ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF FORGIVENESS   Someone who has never stolen is not going to under-stand me. And someone who has never stolen roses will never be able to understand me. When I was little, I stole roses. In ...

Adam Wilson, What's Important Is Feeling

“What is this cockshit?” someone behind me said. I turned. Felix wore camo pants and a sleeveless tee. Hair long and greasy, facial features exaggerated: comically oversize mouth and nose. Like ...

Roberto Bolaño, The Third Reich: Part 4

IN OUR PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS...   In August, Udo Berger, a young war-games champion, returned to the Del Mar Hotel, where he used to spend summers as a child. He found the Costa Brava changed, seedier and less ...

No. 198 Fall 2011

Kerry Howley, Pretty Citadel

The revolution is coming, Rhys says so, and it’ll be just like we always dreamed: blood, streets. First day in Yangon, time- lagged and tongue-tied from my trip across the Atlantic. “Things will be ...

Roberto Bolaño, The Third Reich: Part 3

IN OUR PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS...   It’s been ten years since Udo Berger, a semipro player of war games, last visited the Del Mar Hotel on Spain’s Costa Brava. Now, on holiday with his adored ...

No. 197 Summer 2011

Roberto Bolaño, The Third Reich: Part II

IN OUR PREVIOUS INSTALLMENT...   It is August on the Costa Brava, and life, in the words of young Udo Berger, has never been better. He has brought his adored girlfriend, Ingeborg, to the Hotel Del Mar, ...

Jonathan Lethem, The Empty Room Full Text

Earliest memory: father tripping on strewn toys, hopping with toe outraged, mother’s rolling eyes. For my father had toys himself. He once brought a traffic light home to our apartment on the thirty-somethingth ...

Amie Barrodale, William Wei Full Text

I once brought a girl home because I liked her shoes. That was the only thing I noticed about her. I live in a really small apartment. A lot of my clothes end up piled on my mattress or draped over the open door of ...

No. 196 Spring 2011

Roberto Bolaño, The Third Reich: Part I

By the time of his death in 2003, at age fifty, Roberto Bolaño was already a somewhat legendary figure. A Chilean who spent most of his life in poverty and exile, Bolaño helped found the Infrarealist ...

Joshua Cohen, Emission

This isn’t that classic conceit where you tell a story about someone and it’s really just a story about yourself. My story is pretty simple: About two years after being graduated from college with a ...

No. 195 Winter 2010

Alexandra Kleeman, Fairy Tale

I was sitting at a long table with a lot of nice things on it. There was a large pitcher of ­water with an ornate handle that looked like it was made of real silver, and there were forks and spoons. There were ...

Claire Vaye Watkins, Gold Mine

The buzz of the bell reverberates deep inside Manny’s throat. The girls—showered, shaved, plucked, bleached, perfumed, lotioned, and powdered—arrange themselves in the neon-lit lobby facing the ...

Péter Nádas, Le nu féminin en mouvement

If the taxi hadn’t swerved a second time, in their embarrassment they probably would have leaned back on the seat and continued their chatter in an entirely different direction; it had strayed into dangerous ...

No. 194 Fall 2010

Lydia Davis, Ten Stories from Flaubert

After You Left You wanted me to tell you everything I did after we left each other. Well, I was very sad; it had been so lovely. When I saw your back disappear into the train compartment, I went up on the ...

Sam Lipsyte, The Worm in Philly Full Text

Classic American story: I was out of money and people I could ask for money. Then I got what the Greeks, or even the Greek Americans, call a eureka moment. I would write a book for children about the great ...

April Ayers Lawson, Virgin

People often immediately identified them as newlyweds. Jake worried over this, but when he asked Sheila if it bothered her, she laughed. She said what it really meant was that people were thinking of the two of them ...

No. 193 Summer 2010

Chaz Reetz-Laiolo, Elk Stalled in Snow

Colum McCann, Aisling

Ann Beattie, Hoodie in Xanadu Full Text

Most nights my neighbor, a middle-aged man in a red hoodie, would stand on his front porch, reaching up every now and then to knock the icicle Christmas lights dangling from the porch roof back and forth. ...

Lauren Acampora, Self-Evident

Katherine Dunn, Rhonda Discovers Art

Tweezer Painton was a burly ten-year-old with a glower built into his square mug. His name came from his hobby of grabbing individual hairs on his victims’ heads and yanking them out for fun. Mostly he did it ...

No. 192 Spring 2010

Karl Taro Greenfeld, Thirst

Belle Boggs, Imperial Chrysanthemum

J. Robert Lennon, The Impossible Man Full Text

Around four in the afternoon Tricia sent Clay out to get some ground beef, and because it was the first nice day in a week, and because he wanted a little time alone, and because he was annoyed with Tricia and ...