Fuck the Bread. The Bread Is Over.


Best of 2020

We’re away until January 4, but we’re reposting some of our favorite pieces from 2020. Enjoy your holiday!

Hänsel and Gretel, by Darstellung von Alexander Zick


In February, as a plague enters America, I am a finalist for a job I am not offered.

I am brought to campus for a three-day interview. I am shown the library I’ll never have access to, and introduced to students I’ll never teach. I shake hands with faculty I’ll never see again. I describe in great detail the course on fairy tales I’ll never offer. I stand up straight in a simple black-and-white dress. “Don’t say anything strange,” says my mother. “Don’t blather,” she says. “You have a tendency to blather.” I meet with a dean who rubs his face until it reddens, then asks me whether writers even belong in universities. I meet with another dean who asks me the same thing. There are so many deans. I cannot tell the deans apart. Another dean asks me who the babies in my first collection of poems, The Babies, actually are. “We only have a few minutes left,” he adds. “They don’t exist,” I think I say. I am hurrying. “I was writing about voices we’ll never hear,” I think I say. He stands up and shakes my hand. I shake so many hands. I can’t tell if everything is at stake, or nothing is at stake. All I know is that I am being tested, and whether or not I am offered this job will depend on the appetite and mood of strangers. “Your final task,” I imagine the dean saying, “is to make a rope out of these ashes. Do it and the job is yours.”