My story “How to Survive Shabbat Dinner” appears in 580 Split, an issue subtitled “Message Undeliverable.” Read it here!
Spatzi escaped from East Berlin two weeks before the wall came down. This has been the grounding irony of her life. It’s nearly thirty years later, and she lives in San Francisco, one of the most expensive cities in the world, and drives a ridesharing car. Her favorite windshell jacket has turned from brown to puke-green from sun exposure. But hey, it now better matches the upholstery of the car seats.
Once in awhile she thinks about moving back to Berlin.https://580split.org/#howtosurviveshabbatdinner
A week ago, I had a chance to talk to Ilana Masad, a writer and a podcast host at The Other Stories. She asked me to read two stories from my forthcoming collection, LIKE WATER AND OTHER STORIES, and then we talked about the stories, the book, and a bit about my coming to writing.
“We Were Geniuses,” one of the two stories from the podcast, is an older story and had been first published in The Provo Canyon Review, a beautiful online journal started by my Narrative Magazine colleague Chris McClelland–Chris moved on to other things, and the magazine is now unfortunately defunct. I love seeing this story back online, together with “Sweet Porridge,” another piece from the middle of the book.
One of the stories from my upcoming collection Like Water has been published in Scoundrel Time, an online literary magazine that began as a reaction to forces that attempt to fracture civil society. Here’s the extract from this piece:
The bananas were rotting on the factory floor outside of St. Petersburg. In early October, the temperature inside the nearly abandoned building held at just above freezing, too cold for the tropical fruit. Banana skins were greying, developing dark spots. They would survive just another week.
Three metric tons of neatly packed boxes, colorfully labeled and perforated with holes so that the fruit could breathe, towered on both sides of the assembly line. Until the previous winter, the factory manufactured sixty-three tractors a day; then production stopped. The bananas were a new venture of the young would-be acting director…
My flash fiction “Companionship,” which won the Litquake contest last year, was short listed for “Wow Us” contest by Brilliant Flash Fiction. The magazine published it on their website here. Scroll down to read my story that begins with this:
At three years old Michael did decide to return to his mother’s stomach. His mother shifted things around and made room under her heart. . . .
My story “Helen More’s Suicide” has been published in the current issue of Feminist Studies and is available on JSTOR. The piece was originally inspired by the biography of Carolyn Gold Heilbrun, a scholar and a feminist who wrote mystery novels under pseudonym Amanda Cross, though in drafts the association became very loose.
Here’s the beginning of the story:
My retired colleague Marguerite called to tell me of Helen More’s suicide. “Of all the sad, ludicrous things people do to themselves!”
She invited me over. “Thursday night, as usual. I could use the company of younger people.”
It had been about a year since I’d first been invited to these Thursdays—monthly literary and musical soirees Marguerite hosted in her living room. Helen had been a regular at Marguerite’s for several decades; the two women were close contemporaries and each a celebrity in her own field. Helen was scholar of the English Romantics at the same university where Marguerite had taught Flaubert, Zola, and Balzac, and where I was now a junior faculty member in the English department. I’d heard of Professor More long before I met her: she lectured at the university from the 1960s until being forced into retirement in 2006 ostensibly
due to age. She had a reputation as a militant feminist who eagerly engaged in battles about appointments and promotions, and her politics could have had something to do with it.
To read the rest, log in via your library (through JSTOR) or buy a copy here.
I’m delighted 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.
Here’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
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 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.
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.