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Articles tagged "Fiction"

From “The March of Time”

And so the answer is revealed, to the riddle asked only once in a lifetime (one of the biggest questions in life, perhaps the biggest): your husband Chang Te-Mo will appear again after his death. What kind of ghost will he be? (And here it comes, here it comes, the question in return: “What kind of person was he?”) After the body is cleaned, it’s time to escort him to the morgue. You tell him, “Chang Te-Mo, it’s all right now.” For the last time, you...

From “Notes of a Crocodile”

She was used to relying on other people. I had a habit of protecting girls. If she was in class at a set time, for a set time, I was there to soak it up. In class I was a show-off, but from the moment classes ended till the moment they started up again, I was gone. Her long hair trailed over her shoulders. Her elegant clothing gave her the appearance of being around twenty-four or twenty-five. That entire year I went for a kind of misfit look, wearing outdated jeans that made me look barely...

Wedding in Autumn

“Ah Ju’s back!” Ah Ju, the girl from the road crew dormitory. That’s what we all called her, because that’s where she grew up. She disappeared for a quite a while, but now she was back, and she brought two people with her: her fiancé, and her unborn child. I hadn’t seen her pregnant belly yet, so I didn’t know if it was a bump or a peak, if she was going to have a boy or a girl. But if there’s one thing I did know, it’s that women...

From “Cinderella”

There she stood, cursing her three Jack Russells, that unsettled afternoon my mother and I planned to take over a brothel. Our backer and soon-to-be business partner, a short, skinny, and bald guy who suffered being called Daffy Danny, was about to keep us waiting for the best part of an hour that afternoon. The self-proclaimed madman might have had half a million in his bank account, and my mother and I might have been depending on every single cent of that money for our future enterprise,...

What You’ve Given Up Hoping for Counts Twice as Much, She’d Discovered

ONE Even when she looked in a mirror she had a smile on her face these days; when she went down the stairs there was practically a skip in her step, and now and again, a tune would come humming out of her. What you’ve given up hoping for counts twice as much, Kathleen had discovered. After her divorce, there’d been Emiel. He had Crohn’s disease. It hadn’t been officially diagnosed but he assumed he had it, given the unreliability of his bowels. He didn’t...

Plastic Wrap

Peter doesn’t buy everything on the list. Checking off the groceries among the packed supermarket shelves, all he can picture is his daughter at home by herself: curled up on top of the duvet, nightshirt on backward. As he was leaving, it seemed somehow dangerous to wake her from this peaceful, perfect position but now, with a display cabinet of chicken wings staring him in the face, all he can think of is her pointed shoulder blades peeping out of her V-neck. He decides to get a move...

Grande Sertão: Veredas (Bedeviled in the Badlands)

The following is an excerpt from the new translation of João Guimarães Rosa’s magnum opus, Grande Sertão: Veredas, first published in English in 1963. That translation soon fell out of print for reasons that are not entirely clear. As translator Alison Entrekin explains in her introduction to the piece on our blog, “[t]o read Grande Sertão: Veredas for the first time in Portuguese is like setting foot in a foreign country where the...

The Time Left

They were hard to push down, the buttons. Stiff, you might say. Marcelinho strained and scrunched his face, and succeeded. It still worked, even after everything. The buttons had always been stiff, even before Ricardo’s death. The little door was cracked, and behind the plastic Marcelinho said he saw some bloodstains, still. “Don’t be daft, son. That thing’s clean as a whistle. And be grateful that piece of junk still works.” Work is too ambiguous a word....

Lua

“When are you going to write a book like Knife?” “Never, for sure.”   I was choosing the songs to put on the soundtrack of Lua Cambará when I came across the recordings of the spirituals commending the souls of the dead to God. Ten cassette tapes stored in a Styrofoam box. In the northeast of Brazil they still chant songs filled with religiosity during funeral celebrations. The women’s voices seemed to sprout up, beautiful and strange, up from...

Beauty, a Terrible Story

To Sergio Keuchguerian “You’ve never heard of a curse never seen a miracle never cried alone in a filthy bathroom nor ever wanted to see the face of God.” —Cazuza, “Only Mothers Are Happy” Only after ringing the doorbell many times did he finally hear the rumble of footsteps coming down the stairs. And he recognized the worn rug, once purple, later just red, then each time a lighter shade of pink—now, what color?—and heard the tuneless bark...

Quipapá Gold

L’or de Quipapá is the debut novel from Hubert Tézenas, an author who has spent the first thirty years of his career translating American and Brazilian novels into his native French. The crime novel dives into Brazil of the late 80s, exploring all the crime, corruption, and seedy underbelly of a country in economic repression, having just recovered from a military dictatorship. Quipapá is home to a sugar cane magnate, whose workers are treated more like slaves....

The Pharmacist’s First Report

The following is an excerpt from Lúcio Cardoso’s Chronicle of a Murdered House, forthcoming in December 2016 from Open Letter Books. My name is Aurélio dos Santos, and for many years I have been established in our small town with a business selling medicines and pharmaceutical products. Indeed my shop could be considered the only such establishment in the town, for there is little competition from the stall selling homeopathic remedies on the Praça da...

Genesis

Only a few machines on this moon-base remain working. The satellite camera that always faces Earth, the monitor connected to that camera, the memory device, and the replay device. They run on solar power, so I suppose they’ll stay on as long as the sun exists. They’ll keep their vigil over Earth after I’m gone. The sun won’t last forever, but at least I’ll have disappeared before it goes out. It’s sad to disappear. I guess it’s like being an old...

Car Accident without Victims

Mind if I sit in the front? I’m going to Avenida Angélica, corner of Rua Maranhão, know where it is?  Pardon me, sir, but I need to get something off my chest. If you don’t want to, don’t pay any attention to the crazy things I’m about to say. You can see I’m a normal guy. At home, I always did everything right. I even went to Couples Meet Christ. I always liked sex more than she did. Even when we were first married, it was clear. Lots...

Tomorrow, God Willing

Long ago, my father told me that there was a place in Paris, behind a bush, where you could glimpse paradise, which you only saw once because men went there to die. This place was located somewhere in Montsouris Park, he said, hidden between two paths where someone walking would be swept along by the wind, while the dying man entertained his last conversation with himself before ending it all.   On September 6, 2042, I found myself there. Stretched out on the damp grass with a...

Outcast

1. It was a winter’s night, the kind with icy winds that blew so hard they tore into one’s pores and a cold that was enough to make each lonely heart freeze over. There, in the park, a ghostly young man drifted, a wandering soul with no family or friends to rely on. His black eyes flashed beneath the murky gray lamppost light as he watched me walking toward him. “This late and you’re not going home yet?” I patted one of his hunched up shoulders and he made an...

Three

I never got the knack of fidelity. Ever since I first experienced pleasure outside the four walls of our tacky bathroom, I’ve continually violated the most sacred pacts of love. At first I put this down to my lack of character or inability to assert my desires in relation to an Other, to have some coherence in my life. How could I enjoy properly transgressive sex without sacrificing Sunday movie nights and breakfasts in bed? How could I keep the excitement of a secret rendezvous but...

Small-town Novella

is it obvious when b’s gaze lingers on people in the schoolyard? there goes leif, being watched. how does it look to someone else? crazy? cheesy? b has known leif since twelfth grade, meaning they were separated from the others and sent to this school where they have a hundred and twenty classmates. then it’s down to pure chance whether old friendships slacken, stay firm, or fall apart at the seams. a high price to pay for a couple of “free” subject choices, limited...

Three Microfictions

Machos in the Metro I’m always aware of who’s around me in the metro. For two reasons. One is that I like to snap pics of hot guys without them realizing. I pretend to be texting or browsing Facebook, but I’m actually capturing portraits of raw masculinity: an unshaven square jaw, a bulge at the crotch of some sweatpants, the biceps of a guy holding onto the pole when the car starts to slow down. And it’s an even bigger turn-on because they’re not aware of my...

She, You, and I

Darling, tell me that when we love, we’re not awaiting a reward or reciprocity. And that love is greatest when it’s fruitless, when feelings are more powerful, more real. What’s the point of love without suffering? Every time I contend with love, a new life is born in the fight. The anxiety I endure makes me feel my pulse, makes me feel I’m alive. I’m only happy when I’m seeking these things, not when I find them, because isn’t the footpath through...

María Times Seven

Across the entire region, people spoke about Doña Toña’s multiple births for weeks. Seven strong and healthy baby girls had issued from their mother’s swollen belly, screaming at the top of their lungs. No sooner had Doña Toña finished breastfeeding the lot of them than a ravenous appetite roared again in those who were first to take their turns. For thirty days and thirty nights she didn’t sleep, dutifully offering each child her chance to...

The Right Path

Centuries ago, on the vast plains that extend between the coasts of the Black and Caspian seas, was a kingdom founded by General Poltrov. Poltrov was the product of a life of military discipline: tyrannical, cruel, and rational to the extreme. At the pinnacle of his glory, he enjoyed absolute power over his subjects, a few thousand farmers and artisans. There were only two cities on Poltrov’s territory: Lalandia in the east and Falstria in the west. But communications and...

Project DreamReal

Herson Tissert Pérez reads “Project DreamReal.”  1 The individual who greeted me in the building’s lobby didn’t much resemble the one pictured in the advertising leaflets. He seemed less physically imposing, and his smile, cordial and welcoming in the leaflets, now struck me as that of a man with some kind of secret to conceal. Nevertheless, my excitement was so great that I followed him unhesitatingly down a network of hallways and staircases until,...

Swimming Upstream

“I don’t like ballet,” the doctor admitted. “OK,” Nicanor said, “but it’s different with me. It’s not that I don’t like sports, it’s that they don’t make any sense to me. Like I wouldn’t understand a salmon explaining why it has to migrate. I just don’t get a stadium full of people screaming with enthusiasm or outrage about eight guys who bang a leather ball around better than the other eight.”...

The Bleeding Hands of Castaways

To my love, the Tramontana wind that shook my life forever. A book is a bottle flung into the sea. I want my books to reach the bleeding hands of  castaways. —Samuel Feijóo I found an old mining asteroid of no interest to anyone, rented it for a few Federation kopeks, and built a bar that matches your eyes, though you’re not here. I searched through the tangle of collapsing tunnels until I came upon exactly the right space, its acoustics perfect for your voice. I...

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