Once, my dad tried to give me the jacket the Army awarded him for serving in Korea. It looked like a varsity jacket, soft blue felt, pale arms. On the back it said, I know I’m going to heaven because I’ve been to hell. I was fifteen, and I thought a lot of my dad, […]
“The Knights need a teetotaler driver tomorrow, Jimbo,” Harlan Kittredge said. “Be you a teetotaler?” It was the evening of June 20. Tomorrow the White Knights of Temperance, formerly the Kingdom County Outlaws, were headed to Boston to catch the twin bill between the Sox and the Yankees. They’d gotten together tonight at the Common […]
Mama put a hand to her wide hip, plucked the cigarette from her mouth, and took a long look at Cliff. Pulled her eyeglasses halfway down her nose and said, “No you didn’t.” “Mama, be nice,” I said. It had taken five years and three days for me to build the courage to bring him […]
On their first date, a so-called blind one, Megan took Gregory by the hand and he let her. She led him into a space afflicted with mood lighting and for a moment he though it must be a bar, a remarkably empty one, but no, it was not a bar but an art gallery.
Middle Grade Fiction
Katherine Paterson Prize for YA & Children’s Writing
It’s almost midnight but I have got to clean out my bedroom closet. It’s packed with junk and has, like, the most vicious spider problem this side of a radioactive-arachno movie. I’m delving into terror. At least I don’t have a big shoe collection, since spiders like to hide in shoes. For a girl who’s […]
Right while I’m getting my braces, and saliva I can’t swallow is pooling in the back of my mouth, Doc Hallowell tells me about square dancing. “I do it every Saturday with Linda,” he says, “and after we’re done we go to Bobby Ray’s for a nightcap.” I can see Linda holding “Mr. Thirsty” off […]
Joel was worried about the dead dog in his trunk. Heat rose off the road in front of him, rippling the air like a photograph warping over a flame—he was beginning to regret his decision to pack the ice inside the trash bag with the dog. In this heat, he knew, the ice would be melting, soaking the fur, and if there’s […]
Comics take a bunch of images and put them together in a coherent and articulate way, where you go from image to image, and from text/image combination to text/image combination. Then you look at it all and it all adds up to something.
It’s the things that come out of my own life or the reading that I’m doing, or things that I’ve heard from friends or whatever. But in this case, I think it’s just been an ongoing evolving project that had adapted to the realities of my own life…
Considering the number of dog owners in America, it is safe to speculate that on any given day a small percentage of the population wakes to find an unpleasant mess on the floor, as did Dylan Carter one Thursday in March. The difference between him and the others who made such a discovery that morning is Dylan did not own a dog.
So not but a week after the funeral and this thing, this crazy thing that happens. I’m trekking through Midtown – no temp job that day – past CBS Headquarters. You know, Black Rock. You’ve seen the pictures: black as a burnt marshmallow, thirty-eight floors of granite, kind of a cross between the Tower of […]
I swim most days after work, at first because Prescription-Happy Hindu Granny told me to, but now I look forward to it. The water has become my respite, the soft aqua antidote to my other life, the noisy Kodachrome one, where staying afloat requires more than the flimsy raft with which I’ve been equipped.
When people say there aren’t any accidents I just feel kind of sorry for them, the way you might feel about newborn rabbits, so defenseless and ignorant about everything. But the people who say things like that are usually people you can’t tell anything to, and you especially can’t tell them there’s something they don’t […]
Through thirty-six years as a general surgeon at New York Episcopal Hospital—during which she extracted over two thousand gallbladders, fifteen hundred appendixes, scores of thyroid glands, three miles of small bowel, and eighty-four foreign bodies, including a tie clip left behind by a colleague—Dr. Emma Inkstable had grown increasingly skeptical of human weakness.
Herve was snoring—a little whir-whir on the rollaway—when Walt turned off the TV and the light. I can hear myself think, Walt thought. Or not think. I can lie here and hear myself not think. The snow outside caught his attention: it fanned out, reconvened, made circles around the neon WELCOME sign.
The overcast skies split to allow a few pale rays of sunlight to bleed through the seemingly solid clouds. Below, an Assistant Professor of English sits on the platform bench. She is alternately grading the stack of papers in her lap and contemplating the advent of her thirty-fourth birthday tomorrow—the end of her “Jesus Year,” as her friends in the Department of Theology call it. She is not certain she ought to be evaluating her students’ work along with her life, but she sallies forth nonetheless.
A new moon and a clear, cold Michigan night, the sky dead black and loaded with stars, so clear you could see the tendrils in the Milky Way dust—things were aligning, and Arthur Reel was prepared. He called the two neighbors across the road, who were kind enough to turn off their automatic lights whenever Arthur said he would be skywatching. Three a.m. found him perched in his rooftop observatory, sitting in his padded folding chair next to a telescope that was almost as big around as a basketball, waiting.
Daisuke would find them in varying levels of decomposition, bleeding out into the snow or scattered over hiking trails, half eaten. Most would be hanging from the trees, the trunks so close and tight that in the perpetual twilight of Mount Fuji’s shadow their limbs looked like strange branches sprouting from the shaggy moss. They were businessmen or star-crossed lovers, victims of incest and criminals. They came from all over.
Ninjaboy is not Japanese. Ninjaboy is not even Korean. Ninjaboy is white. His mother is white. His father is white. Perhaps somewhere far up the line, as his mother claims, there is noble Cherokee blood, but it doesn’t show in Ninjaboy. Ninjaboy is pasty white, the color of Wonderbread, which is one of the few things he allows himself to eat. You can never be too careful when you have enemies like Ninjaboy’s.
I live in a town called Winthrop in Suffolk, Massachusetts. Population: 18,303.
I attend Winthrop Senior High School along with every teenager in my block, aside from Ashleigh Brown, whose dad took her out of school after she got her front tooth knocked out in Gym in the sixth grade.
We smoked crack, not heroin. Jeter Flint bought crack on 16th and Mission and brought it back to the loft (which was on 19th and Bryant, not 23rd and Shotwell) where we cut the crack with cigarette ash, packed it in a pipe and smoked it, exhaling into someone else’s mouth to make the crack last as long as possible. The film gets Jeter’s basic facts right, though: a painter, from Laredo, Texas via Las Vegas, New Mexico.
Right around the time that Martha’s marriage fell apart, her only child became a runner. A distance runner. A runner of distances so long and arduous that some nights Martha crept into her room to examine her daughter’s sleeping feet. How did they do it? Mile after mile, hill after hill? The slapping and pounding! In the light from the hallway the twin soles glowed slick as sea stones. Martha could remember when they were brand new, and fit into the palm of her hand.
In the beginning, don’t talk to your daughter, because anything you say she will refute. Notice that she no longer eats cheese. Yes, cheese: an entire food category goes missing from her diet. She claims cheese is disgusting and that, hello? she has always hated it. Think to yourself…okay, no Feta, no Gouda—that’s a unique and painless path to individuation; she’s not piercing, tattooing or voting Republican.
If it takes a kind of genius to strike gold, then I am a genius. In fact my genius blows me away sometimes. Today, reading George Saunders’ story “A Lack of Order in the Floating Object Room” for the first time in many years—since 1986, to be exact—I am transported to my old living room […]
The Little Carrillo Camp Store has been out of marshmallows since your family arrived, so all week you’ve been using gummi bears in your breakfast s’mores instead. Your dad pitched the s’mores as a special treat, much better than, say, the bacon cheesy eggs he botched on day one of your trip.
INTRODUCTION1 Some years ago, toward the end of an hour-long class during which a group was workshopping one of my stories, someone in the room said, “I was just wondering, don’t these people ever run into anyone else? Don’t their waiters ever talk to them? Don’t they have any friends?” My notes from that […]
Black bear rouses from hibernation at the end of April when I summon her. She emerges from her den by the cedar grove behind my childhood home in Tower, Minnesota where as teenagers, Mac and I made love. Weary from the long winter, she heads south to the Twin Cities. She cuts through clusters of budding birches under silver moonlight and labors through swampy cattails in honeyed sunrises. She gobbles fronds, catkins, and shoots to feed her empty belly.
My novel is set in a time and place—1850’s west—that’s already solidly ingrained into the American consciousness as a mostly historically inaccurate and over-dramatized milieu. For three years, I spent enormous energy creating the historical details—believable characters, a rich sense of place, credible plot. All this realism came at a cost. My novel was missing […]
Kazuo Ikeda’s first and last taste of fugu had been the spring he turned seventeen. Seventeen was practically adulthood. Kazuo’s goals for his adult self were: 1. Do something interesting. This did not include camping in the car amongst redwoods with his parents; eating salted toffee while visiting historic Old Sacramento and nearly as historic old relatives; or catching the cable car to Fisherman’s Wharf only to end up overstuffed at Ghiradelli Square.
Cody and I are sitting side-by-side on a picnic table, looking toward the Rocky Mountains covered by ponchos of snow. Black-necked geese are honking, and I’m thinking, They must be lost. They shouldn’t be in Denver. They should be in Acapulco.
Ute Schmidt’s first lesson, upon arriving in Boston, is that Americans talk fast and laugh at things that are not funny. She learns this while going through customs and immigration at Logan airport, when an officer asks her where she is hiding the sausages and then laughs immoderately.
It isn’t even a two hour train ride out from London to the village where Jeremy’s daughter and her husband—a man whom Jeremy has never met—have lived for the past three years, but it’s one of those trips that seem to carry you much farther than the time might imply.