Lesser Missiles

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We smelled smoke and, out the window, embers rose in the night.

We got out of bed and pulled the red alarm box in the hallway and went outside.

From across the street, we watched fire destroy our apartment building. The woman who lived down the hall from us wore a nightgown and fanned herself with a magazine and shook her head. We found a motel nearby, mostly used by military girlfriends and wives. Then we walked to the beach.

This was Oxnard, a coastal city in Southern California near Port Hueneme and in a severe drought. Dry sugar beet farms stretched out from two military bases and the Kavli Foundation that supports the advancement of science. […]

Your Father

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All of this is occasioned by a telephone call from my dad:

I sit down on the couch, flip on the tube, and descend the cable channels to the low double-digits, where I find the red-jowled faces of men trapped inside too-tight sport coats going on at length about this player or that, and I know I’ve landed on the run-up to a baseball game. I have an immediate gut reaction to these men because, as it happens, I’m under imminent threat of getting my face slammed into my own locker by letterman-wearing jocks who, no doubt, will become less successful versions of the men I’m watching here on the tube. […]

Web Exclusive Interview: Suzanne Morrison

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In our April Web Exclusive story, “The Mother’s Portion,” a woman with a husband and six children goes to extreme measures to reclaim herself. It’s a surprising story; it makes triumphant that which we think of as affliction. We talked with author Suzanne Morrison about liberation, our mutual love of Maggie Nelson, and the importance of telling our survival stories. […]

Web Exclusive Interview: Jensen Beach

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David Foster Wallace said that fiction is “one of the few experiences where loneliness can be both confronted and relieved.” In our March Web Exclusive story, “To God Belongs What He Has Taken,” Jensen Beach deftly places us in the mind of a Stockholm woman caught up in a fantasy about a stranger. It is a subtle and detailed snapshot of a form of loneliness so universal that […]

To God Belongs What He Has Taken

(c) Peter Tanlund via Flickr Creative Commons

Marie buys her morning coffee at the convenience store on the corner of her block. One of the men who works there is named Ahmed. He is Iraqi. When he laughs, which he does often, his enormous belly shakes. She likes Ahmed. She’s been buying her coffee from him since she’s lived on this block, almost two years. In a week, the sale on her apartment, her first, will be final, and she and her daughter Tove will move in with Lennart. Marie has been marking this change by counting down the days until she will no longer buy her coffee from Ahmed’s store. […]

The Hungry Valley

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Now he fed his horses too much rich corn sweetened with molasses: their middles were round and taut as barrels, and their hooves curled, and instead of nipping and tossing about like they had in the past, they loitered at the gate all day, calling out to him whenever he passed. His old dog he fed too much kibble and too many table scraps: its back was strangely broad and thin of hair like a threadbare piece of overstuffed furniture, and it could no longer move quickly nor jump with ease. The cats lapped milk from pie tins on the barn floor […]

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