Editorial Outtakes: Mike Scalise

Mike Scalise

Editorial Outtakes is a feature in which we publish excerpts from recent books that you won’t find anywhere else because, prior the publication, these sections were cut. This installment of Editorial Outtakes features writer Mike Scalise, author of The Brand New Catastrophe, reflecting on some of the particularities of revealing character details in nonfiction. How does a writer of memoir go about depicting their own naiveté and youth authentically? How does a nonfiction writer avoid creating one-note characters in memoir when so many of us—especially when we’re young—ring the same emotional bells time and time again? And how, when you’re sick, do you recognize and reconcile all of the other things that are wrong with your life? […]

ASF Contributors Johnston & Henderson Longlisted for the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Fiction Award

Johnston and Henderson

On the heels of a wonderful AWP conference in Washington, DC, we returned home only to find that recent ASF contributors Bret Anthony Johnston (ASF 63, Fall 2016) and Smith Henderson (ASF 62, Summer 2016) have been included on the longlist for the 2017 Sunday Times EFG Short Fiction Award. Johnston’s story, “Half of What Atlee Rouse Knows About Horses” appeared as the issue opener in our special 25th Birthday edition. Henderson’s “The Trouble” was the final story in our most recent summer issue.

The Key Bearer’s Parents

Anatomica heart illustration - Heart for Sian Griffiths - "Key Bearer's Parents"

We were good parents. We know people assume otherwise when they see our wide ties and honking red noses, but we were. We took that job seriously. We told our son that he could be anything he wanted to be, just like you’re supposed to. Yes, we could see his embarrassment when we showed up for Career Day, how he threw the basketball into the field as our tiny car pulled in so that his friends would look away. And though we were happy clowns, smiles broader and wider than any lips, the disappointment underneath our makeup was easy to read. “It’s fine,” we said, fitting on our over-sized shoes and adjusting the flowers in our hats. We told ourselves that he would get over it.

Things American: In the Air, Election Night 2016

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My ears won’t pop, and the bites on my right arm itch, my arm and neck—red flares I can’t ascribe to any particular predator, just marks of Texas. I get a second tiny bottle of whiskey. My taller-than-me daughter sleeps against my shoulder, too old these days, too grown up. We are over the Rockies, Denver to Helena, a tiny plane half full. I get the second whiskey because the flight attendant asks if I want another before she closes out her till. No flight attendant has ever asked me this. I will always have another if offered […]

Things American: Treatment vs. Healing

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1. The nurse woke me at four-thirty in the morning to take my blood. Someone else had taken it less than six hours before, in the emergency room, but pointing that out seemed disrespectful because he was a nurse with years of schooling behind him, and I was just another suicidal senior in high school. […]

Every Notebook, Photograph, and Letter: An Interview with Jan Ellison

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Jan Ellison’s debut novel, A Small Indiscretion, came out in paperback this spring. The book takes readers across decades and continents—from Berkeley to London and back again—to show us what happens to a happily married mother of three when the mistakes and youthful transgressions of years past unexpectedly turn up to meddle […]

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