So Wild

Pearl was limp with boredom and Taiwan’s humidity. That morning Pearl’s mother, Wen Hua, told her that visitors were coming to the house and ordered her to wear one of the playsuits she’d bought Pearl for their trip. Pearl’s normal … Continued

Suspensions

Translated from French by S.C. Delaney and Agnès Potier   First it was two false incisors falling on his plate. In the past he might have laughed, written some pages, maybe a decent story he’d have put away with some … Continued

No Aerial Experience Required

Everything she owned fit into a yellow cab. A year living on Avenue B and all she’d accumulated were calluses from barefoot turns, the bottom of each toe hardened and ridged like the edge of an almond. It was a … Continued

Narrow Salvation

The first time the cat showed up, Suzie opened the front door to go to work and it was waiting outside. Fat and orange, it walked right past her into the living room. No collar, matted fur, a scratch across … Continued

Second Person

You do not like the second person. You find the second person indulgent, and co-optive of the reader. You walk down the street, you buy a croissant and then—well, thinks the reader, joke’s on you, I hate pastry and haven’t … Continued

Failsafe

It was the night before trial. The Zyclone team had relocated to temporary office space in Newark, near the federal courthouse; an entire block of rooms had been reserved in the Marriott. As case manager, Clark had to ensure that … Continued

In a Land Strange to Us

translated from Italian by Allison Grimaldi-Donahue     3 March 2002 We saw each other in a land that was strange to you, the first time: me on the other side of that metal detector, hoping you would make it … Continued

Two Yellow Titmice

Translated from Chinese by Jennie Chia-Hui Chu   My big brother Da Ge, who was the son of my father’s first wife when they were still living in the country, was much older than me. We weren’t close. He spoke … Continued

The History

My father wishes he could spit poisonous words at me, that his hatred could dissolve me like acid, I see this daily in his eyes. Meanwhile the French consul is furious and the police have come by for the third … Continued

Between the Storm and the Window

The man who handles my call to the Department of Motor Vehicles is required to tell me that he’s a convict in one of our state’s prisons. Next he asks, “What can I do to help?” “My wallet’s been stolen. … Continued

The Library

I work in the public library destroying books. For six hours a day, I stand in the basement over two trash cans, or trash barrels, really, given their size. I use a boxcutter. It’s a lot like shucking oysters. That’s … Continued

Soutine

Chaim Soutine was hungry. This he felt as he made his way through the crowded damp streets in the early afternoon, head down, hands jammed deep into the pockets of his thick dirty coat, past newspaper boys shouting out headlines … Continued

Locked

My mother wants to be a mother when she grows up. I’m ten when she tells me this and five years later she gets a bump and bumps me out. I go to my daddy who doesn’t know he’s my … Continued

Emilys We’ve Known

Of the Emilys we’ve known you are the prettiest. You have the longest hair and the brightest face, the smallest face, the smallest face and the brightest; the longest hair. Had you been born in the eighteen-hundreds people would’ve written … Continued

God of Nothing

This morning I scrubbed a charred spatula. It wasn’t light out yet. I hadn’t been able to sleep through the night so I made myself get out of bed in the dark, made myself go downstairs and hit the kitchen’s … Continued

The Temptation of Saint Ravine

I watched through field glasses as a teenage kid stepped to the edge of the ravine. April had finally arrived, and the mountains had begun to sweat off their snowpack. Already, the creek ran heavy. The kid stretched his calves, … Continued

Hedgehogs

Translated from Hebrew by Jessica Cohen It was a Saturday. The guests at the Green House were fanning charcoal and slabs of slowly charring meat with squares of cardboard, and the cats were going berserk. They scampered around the vacationers’ … Continued