Redux: Brushfire at Christmas



Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.

This week, we bring you Jim Crace’s 2003 Art of Fiction interview, Andrew Martin’s short story “With the Christopher Kids,” and Judy Longley’s poem “Brushfire at Christmas.”

If you enjoy these free interviews, stories, and poems, why not subscribe to read the entire archive? You’ll also get four new issues of the quarterly delivered straight to your door.

Jim Crace, The Art of Fiction No. 179
Issue no. 167 (Fall 2003)

When I was eleven, the word went out that for once in his life, my father had actually bought me a Christmas present. My mum usually did all that stuff. I was terribly excited by the prospect. Along comes Christmas day, and I open up a package and inside was the Dent Dutton Everyman edition of Roget’s Thesaurus. My father had heard somewhere that a thesaurus was an essential tool for anyone who wanted to be a writer. I was eleven, for Christ’s sake! This was the biggest letdown of my life. A book of words! But actually, of course, I still use the very edition he gave me. There are two pages missing, the pages which are of synonyms for words about music. They just fell out. But otherwise it’s my constant companion, my best possession.

With the Christopher Kids
By Andrew Martin
Issue no. 215 (Winter 2015)

On Christmas Eve I wandered around my mother’s house looking for things to wrap. For the last three days I’d been slamming doors and doing cocaine and forgetting that it was the season of giving, nominally because my girlfriend, Melanie, had left me hours before our trip north to visit our respective families. If I was being fair—which I wasn’t—Melanie’s decision made sense: Why wait until after the holiday disasters? It was one less thing to hold against each other forever. Downstairs, my sister Patricia hollered for scissors.

Brushfire At Christmas
By Judy Longley
Issue no. 138 (Spring 1996)

Arkansas, 1993
—for Lawrence, my brother

I’ve followed the crumbs to your feast,
share the table with Father again,

his anger smoldering belly-deep
while Mother smiles, eyes darting,

ready to peck with her sharp words.
In this version of our lives …

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