Doctor Sveta in Alaska Quarterly Review

I’m deaqr_vol34-web-439x662lighted to have a short story of mine, “Doctor Sveta,” in the current issue of Alaska Quarterly Review. Here’s the opening,

Doctor Sveta was twenty six years old when the Navy commissariat summoned her to Leningrad and put her on a cargo ship among a motley crew of agronomists, agricultural engineers, livestock breeders, and tractor drivers, none of whom knew where the ship was headed or how long the journey might take. Her fellow passengers looked as confused at finding themselves confined to a seafaring vehicle as Doctor Sveta felt. No tractors accompanied them; not a cow, not even a single chicken. The agronomists and tractor drivers were healthy young men and a few women, two of them visibly pregnant. Doctor Sveta had been trained as a surgeon in Leningrad; she assumed it was in this capacity she’d been recalled from her post at a hospital in Minsk, Belarus. Besides the ship’s medic, there were no doctors aboard and not even a basic medical facility. Doctor Sveta worried she’d have to embrace a crash course in obstetrics.

Half a century later, as she tells me this story, Doctor Sveta . . .

This is a print magazine. To read the story, please buy the issue.

Martian Federation’s General Consulate in San Francisco: FAQ for Citizens

nrm-first-issueHere’s an experimental short, recently published in a brand new magazine. Welcome, New Reader Review! Download the copy of the magazine with my story here. (My story begins on page 204).

Martian Federation’s General Consulate in San Francisco: FAQ for Citizens

I. General Questions.
1.1. What is a consular district? I currently reside in Utah. May I seek assistance from the consulate in San Francisco?
1.2. Why am I unable to reach the consulate by phone?

II. Passport of the Martian Federation.
2.1. Must I apply for my passport in person? May I apply for my Martian passport by
mail?
2.2. How long does it take to receive my Martian passport?
2.3. What are the advantages of carrying a biometric passport?
2.4. I have bad handwriting. May I apply for my Martian passport electronically?
2.8. My name has been poorly translated to Martian. What do I do?
2.6. I don’t have a Martian passport. May I enter Mars with my American passport?
2.7. I was born on Mars but have lived in Utah my entire life. I don’t know the Martianlanguage. May I fill out the application for my Martian passport in English?

IV. Registration of Legal Documents.
4.1. Will the consulate register a marriage between an American and a Martian?
4.4. My groom has a very demanding job and is very busy. We are unable to come in
person to the consulate in San Francisco to register our marriage. What do we do?

To continue reading, download the issue.

The Sublime Gestures of Unrequited Love

the museum of americana also published this story that’s near to my heart. I wrote it several years ago and kept tinkering with the ending — I didn’t want the connection between the two parts be too obvious, but I did want there to be several clear lines of connection, plus something else. After all this tinkering, it sure feels good to see this story out there.

“In sixth grade, I declared my love to a boy by slipping a homemade paper doll of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust between the pages of the natural science homework I was giving him to copy. With the bright-eyed earnestness of first love, I believed I staked my entire future on the piece of cardboard decked out with a paper jumpsuit, a detachable red wig, and tall red boots—the details of the tricky costume carefully copied off a picture in TIME magazine.

“Thanks,” said Pete, grabbing the science notebook from my hands. “You’re a pal. I’ll give it back tomorrow.”

At home, when I’d been planning this handoff, I must’ve imagined it in slow motion and with deep significance to each word and gesture. . . .

To continue reading, go here.

Generosity up on The Museum of Americana

My story Generosity is up on the museum of americana. I wrote this story some years ago, after attending an event, dedicated to Brazilian literature. Hearing the questions the visiting writers were being asked set my imagination reeling.

“The two Russian writers were young—billed as under forty—but in the month of touring the United States, they’d acquired heft and world-weariness. Seven days a week they answered questions: What does new Russian writing offer readers in the United States? and Do you see yourself continuing the great Russian novel tradition? . . .”

Continue reading here.

 

Sick Babies out in Confrontation

My story “Sick Babies” is out in Confrontation. Here’s the opening:

The baby’s sick. The mom brings him to the park every day, in late afternoons, and he sits limp in his stroller, dazed, unsmiling, eyes expressionless, pupils without any depth. The mom doesn’t seem to be aware of his condition. “Say hi to the gentlemen, Jacob,” she directs, rolling the stroller by the bench where we’re playing checkers. The baby doesn’t bat an eyelid. “He’s a little sleepy,” the mother apologizes. “It’s the weather we’ve been having.”

This afternoon, she parked the stroller right beside us, dropped her tattered backpack on a bench on the other side of the path, and took out a pack of cigarettes. She lifted the canvas canopy over the baby’s head, as though this were protection enough, and smoked one cigarette after another in rapid succession. We averted our noses, but, luckily, the wind blew the smoke in a different direction. True, some of us used to smoke in our youth, but it’s been long since that we’ve kicked the habit. The woman’s entire person showed signs of wear: unwashed hair going gray at the roots, tattoos on her arms looking ashen and flaccid, countless runs in the black hose. The baby stared right at us with his unseeing eyes.

Among ourselves, we’re convinced that the baby’s autistic, or worse. “Shouldn’t he be in some kind of an institution?” we debate.

To continue reading, please purchase the issue.

Love and Hair

I’m delighted to report that my story “Love and Hair” won Willesden Herald’s International short story competition. The award ceremony took place in London this week, and I took home the coveted prize: a large mug and a bottle of campaign. The story appears in an anthology, New Short Stories 9, together with nine other short-listed stories. I’ve been reading the anthology, and I’m so impressed with the competition.

Here’s the snippet from my story. The print anthology is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

The stage crew had been drinking since The Wizard of Oz Singalong the night before and now the director, suffering from a sinus infection, was losing her voice, pleading over the phone with actors calling in sick. This was a radical departure from the spirit of fun and camaraderie I’d expected when I volunteered to perform in an amateur production of The Vagina Monologues. During our final run-through just hours before opening night curtain, we were three actors short and had to find substitutes. I’d recruited half a dozen of my friends to buy tickets—and what if any of them actually showed up? The lack of professionalism embarrassed me.

As the rehearsal finally got underway, my phone buzzed. The house manager turned to me and hissed, animal-like, “What’s that?” She’d been getting on my nerves all afternoon, having berated me for bringing a burrito into the theatre and for daring to eat it while she talked to us about emergency exits. I ignored her and looked at my phone.

A text message: “I’m in San Francisco.” My new phone failed to decode the number, but I had a good feeling the text came from this girl Hana, an Israeli who lived in Portland.

“Great,” I texted back, “I’ll see you after the show.”

On the first night I’d met her, Hana put her hand on my shoulder, gripping firmly, and said, “You look so Russian, Yelena. I’d love to seduce you.” Then she toasted me with whiskey and walked away.