She’s always late!” the sixteen-year-old sobbed. She’d set up the ironing board and its accessories like a shrine to housewifery. Heat shimmered in the air, had already slightly compromised the plastic of the spray bottle. Only Bonita could master the pleats of Suzanne’s ghastly uniform skirt. Other girls did not care. Still others had punctual housekeepers. Or parents who ironed.
“Suse is so anal,” her brother, Danny, noted from the table, where he and his father were studying their computer screens over breakfast, sharing news items and a bowl of pineapple. “She takes three showers a day, which is more than some people take in a year. In the future, that will be illegal. Seriously, I skip showers so that our carbon footprint won’t be so terrible.” …[Keep Reading]…
Fiction 2010 alumna Stacy Patton’s story “Not Knowing” appears online at Hunger Mountain.
On her way through the gate onto the levee she passed three loud-talking boys coming out, sun-washed and maybe a little drunk, two of them shirtless. They were all a head taller than she was, as boys of that age are, and their bodies filled her vision as they came, flat nipples and thin muscle, ribs and skin so close she side-stepped to avoid brushing against them. She flicked her wrist and wrapped the leash another turn around the back of her hand, pulled her dog close to her hip.
The boys passed behind her, and one of them whistled low. She pretended not to hear. She knew who he was whistling at, but she was alone, and they were boys, more than two. She tried to be flattered instead of afraid. She’d worn a new athletic skirt with quick-dry fabric and shorts underneath, and the summer heat rose from the asphalt, warming her legs, strong and tan from daily runs. The boys were laughing, the doors on their pickup thudding shut as she passed through the gate, remembering days when rowdy boys whistled more often—days when she might have gone swimming all afternoon with boys like that, instead of stealing a quick run before spaghetti night with her husband and two kids. A low-slung camp chair in the shallows near the shore, the current flowing round her calves, bikini straps slipped off her carefully oiled shoulders. And a beer, of course. A cold bottled beer sluicing the back of her throat, watching boys show off on a rope swing nearby...[Keep Reading]…
Sara Quinn Rivara (poetry, ’02): Sara’s poem “Bible Study” appears online at the Cortland Review.
Behind the Red Lobster, the sky leveled off into lake: static
from the radio. Late model Pontiac Body glitter. Hade’s hot
hand on my thigh. Why not, Lenten Rose? he cried. How high
Orion leaped above the waves! Something burned, something
trembled between us: was me at once, singing. No, was
the cotton shirt tearing...[Keep Reading]…
Geoff Kronik (fiction, ’12): Jeff’s short story “A Second Bowl of Jook” recently won Litro Magazine and Sheffield University’s “China” Flash Fiction Competition.
Befriend your future father-in-law, Choong says. She drives off to slurp noodles with childhood friends.
Jason’s body feels porous, his neurons balkanized. Splurge on first class and still this jet lag. But he’ll come to Guangzhou annually for Choong. Lack of money has kept her away from home for years. He has given her this. He always will.
Breakfast, Mr. Tan announces. Jason shuffles through air dense as gelatin. Mr. Tan ladles out the rice porridge called jook...[Keep Reading]…
Former faculty member Richard Russo “pays homage to the shop where he fell in love with reading—and to the crucial role bookstores can still play in our lives” for Parade Magazine.
The first great bookstore in my life wasn’t really a bookstore. Alvord and Smith was located on North Main Street in Gloversville, N.Y., and if memory serves, they referred to themselves as stationers. I don’t recall the place being air-conditioned, but it was always dark and cool inside, even on a sweltering summer day. In addition to a small selection of books, the store sold stationery, diaries, journals, and high-end fountain and ballpoint-pen sets, as well as drafting and art supplies. The shelves went up and up the walls, and I remember wondering what was in the cardboard boxes beyond my reach. The same things on the shelves below? Other, undreamed-of wonders? Alvord and Smith was a store for people who—though I couldn’t have articulated it at the time—had aspirations beyond life in a grungy mill town. It was never busy...[Keep Reading]…
Richard is the author of, most recently, Elsewhere: A memoir (Knopf, 2012).
“Sutured with strange, glittering sentences, fat with music and intelligence, the flung you negotiates the kinetic, violent, vigorous dance of existence. Anderton writes with both exuberance and ferocity, conceiving poetry “Stung with nocturne, shy /And savage.” ~ Simone Muench
Fiction ’89 alumna Nan Cuba was recently featured on TNBBC’s Next Best Book Blog, as part of their “Where Writers Write” series.
I’m sixty-five, and I’ve reverted to the womb. When I converted a bedroom into my office, I consciously filled it with memorabilia and art, surrounding myself with artifacts that stimulate and nourish. Everywhere I look: faces, scenes, chatter. Stuck for a piece of dialogue: glance at the bookshelf to the left. Need an image: look inside the glass-fronted cabinet above the desk. If nothing else works, check the window on one wall.
I’m a phenomenon of self-discipline, a holdover from my Bible-belt upbringing. When I sit at my desk, I have no trouble getting to work. So once, I tried writing according to a specific schedule. Fitting time around my day job, I rose at 4:00 a.m., read the previous day’s product, then pounded out a pledged three pages. I loved being in the world when everyone else seemed out of it. The dark, the quiet, the stillness invigorated, sending me straight to my subconscious. Like an automaton, I stuck to my schedule because I’d been trained that failing to meet a commitment meant irresponsibility, flawed character, and worse, a father’s disappointment. I was proud, productive, and finally, exhausted. After five months, I went to bed with the flu, sleeping almost continually for a week...[Keep Reading]…