“Everything living is now underground. A mailman rides across the surface through ashes both animal and vegetable, among the shattered substructures of civilization.”
—an excerpt from the classic French graphic novel
Gohegan Man came back from the dead and told Ezekiel Applewood he was too old to lie across his bed boo hoo crying.
Hiking up a trail in the snow, I spot
a rusting orange body of a car;
in midwinter, the sun’s a mirage
of July—a woman begins Taiji
movements and rotates an invisible
globe; a sky-blue morning glory
unfolds on a fence; though
the movements appear to be stretches,
they contain the tips of deflections
and strikes; behind a fence, neighbors
drink beer, grill chicken, laugh—
as snowflakes drop, I guess at
their shapes: twelve-branched,
stellar dendrite, triangular, capped
column—under a ceiling fan,
I recall our hours in a curtained
room—and as I sidestep down,
a capped column dissolves on my face.
I found Janet Malcolm’s first book, her 1980 essay collection Diana and Nikon: Essays on the Art of Photography, because I was reading all of her books that were available at the University of Montana library. I started with her criticism and journalism on subjects closer to my wheelhouse—The Silent Woman, about Sylvia Plath’s biographers, […]
It means that I will not allow for the shoving of the dead, white, male canon in my face all the time. I want actual equality and access in publishing. I write as a socialist feminist asking for the end of mistreatment of female colleagues and interns at all literary institutions, for a cultural revolution to be a priority, not a tolerated eye roll. And, also, that I will not be playing this sinister game of all of us aspiring to be the lone genius. I am sick of women being seen as fame-whores, and men, by contrast, ambitious writers. I will call literature, literature.
Or, years later, after she moves them from the city to homogeneous suburbia, cookie-cutter identical for everyone but her. No one answers their doors when mother and daughters march up and down the cul-de-sac and ring the doorbells, homemade brownies in hand. Not only do the new neighbors not come over to see if they are all right after the lightning strikes the new house, none of them bother to say welcome. No chicken casseroles forthcoming, no chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies, no smiles. They, the family, wait patiently, every day, like maiden aunts at a charity dance, waiting to be asked to waltz.
No one calls.
It sounds like a desert banshee, lost and wailing. There, on the other side of the lot, by the locked bathroom huts, is a baby carrier. Inside, wrapped in a blue blanket, is a baby. Not a ghost or alien, but a baby.
In recent years, Nicaragua has enjoyed relative peace in a region otherwise torn by violence. In April 2018, all of that changed. Since then, the government of President Daniel Ortega and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo, have killed at least 325 and as many as 500 people for protesting the government.
Teachers have the most fascinating, difficult, and important job on the planet, and their work days are filled with stories. Yet teachers seldom appear in fiction. This contest, a joint venture of The Academy for Teachers and Tin House, was created to inspire honest, unsentimental stories about teachers and the rich and complex world of schools.
Often after a critical rant where Ugresic is deconstructing some unimportant America idiosyncrasy – the organizer, manual, shrink, addict, couch potato, Coca-Cola, bagel (each of which is a chapter name) – she delivers a reflection on Yugoslavia and its original sin: Who is to blame? Thus the skeptical current of the book flows both ways; the skepticism at America may be laced with anger, but the skepticism aimed at herself and Yugoslavs, the one drenched in sadness, is mortal: “I don’t care whether I, myself, am perpetuating the stereotypes about the Balkans and the ‘Balkan curse.’ My guilt is negligible. The tale of ‘Balkan doom’ is being earnestly inflated by the local murderers and butchers, not the writers. What worries me, however, is something else. I am aghast at the thought that my momentary scornful arrogance might be of the same ilk as the malevolence with which my agile compatriots are destroying their country.”