April’s Web Exclusive, “A Bruise the Size and Shape of a Door Handle,” is a haunting story whose slow, creeping tension evokes the likes of Edgar Allen Poe and Shirley Jackson. And yet it is so thoroughly modern, an enlightened study of unhinged, potent adolescent-female sexuality. Its author, Daisy Johnson, is surely destined for great things, so we’re thrilled to have her story and interview here. […]
When Salma was nine her mother died and she went to live with the father she knew only through birthday phone calls and from her mother’s steel-lined phraseology—he was a bitch on heat; a fucking rabid, no-cock-and-balled pug with more horn than a wolfhound.
They stood in the hallway and looked at one another.
Pick a room, any room, he said.
She took the attic as if it were a birthright, carrying one suitcase up after the other. Life was a making do and she stood on the bed and stretched to place both hands flat on the ceiling, leaving her prints in dust. […]
In February’s Web Exclusive, “Lake House,” a couple has retired to a remote location. We know there is tension between them, and between the narrator and his adult son, but the origins and causes of this tension are only hinted at, the way a painting focuses its composition by suggesting some elements and detailing others. Our more detailed image is that of a drone silently making its way across the treetops […]
Sea grass tickled the backs of our knees as we crossed the beach. Meredith was trailing behind, humming something familiar, but it was faint, mixed with the salt in the wind. Barefoot, I sank deeper. We were walking toward the water, meeting the edge of the continent, both feeling strange. I turned to make sure […]
We retired, and we bought a house by a lake that none of our friends had ever heard of, in a town none of our friends had ever heard of, in a region of northern New York far from anything, where every low place is the place of a lake.
The lake was cool in summer and deep, and we swam in it. All around us were the low small houses of our neighbors and the piney woods, and beyond the woods were the fields where farmers grazed their cattle. The whole town smelled of manure most days. After a while we grew to like it. […]
In Merrill Feitell’s “The Cupcake Factory,” we bear witness to a moment between siblings that we know will become, for one of them, a searing memory. We know because it’s told as if the scene is already crystallizing as it unfolds, and with a weight that can only manifest. We talked to Feitell about the story, cupcakes, long projects, point of view, and shameful stacks of unread books.