Sunday, September 17, 2017

Short fiction by Garth Greenwell, Hye-young Pyun, and Alan Bennett and a poem by Julie Bruck

He laughed again when I warned him not to post it on Facebook.  I'll hunt you down, I said, one of the phrases I had used often in my seven years as a teacher, four of them here in Bulgaria, a career whose end we were celebrating that night.  He held up his hands, smiling broadly.  Don't worry, he said, I won't, I just want to remember this forever.
--From "An Evening Out," a short story by Garth Greenwell, The New Yorker (August 21, 2017), pp. 62-69.

Oghi opened his eyes to a faint glimpse of white clothing.  He heard his name: "Oghi.  Oghi."  The voice was soft, kind.  Eight days had passed since his emergency surgery, eight days during which he had slipped in and out of consciousness. 
--From "Caring for Plants," a short story by Hye-young Pyun, translated from the Korean by Sora Kim-Russell, The New Yorker (July 10 & 17, 2017), pp. 64-71.

His paintings were small, suggestions 
of houses, pinpricks of green for trees.
--From "A Marriage," a poem by Julie Bruck, The New Yorker (November 7, 2011), p. 78.

'I gather you're my wife,' said the man in the waiting room.  'I don't think I've had the pleasure.  Might one know your name?'
--From "The Greening of Mrs Donaldson," the first of two stories in a little book called Smut by English dramatist Alan Bennett.  The book, originally published in Great Britain by Faber and Faber Ltd and Profile Books Ltd, was published in the United States by Picador (2012).  The story "The Greening of Mrs Donaldson" was originally published in the London Review of Books (2010).

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

A poem by Ryan Fox and fiction by Akhil Sharma, Miroslav Penkov, and Anthony Doerr

You were all over everything. 
I just wanted to read "The Four Quartets."
But there was your handwriting, . . .  
--From "And Both Hands Wash the Face," a poem by Ryan Fox, The New Yorker (May 8, 2017), p. 38.

"Break her arms, break her legs," Lakshman's grandmother would say about her daughter-in-law, "then see how she crawls to her bottle."  What she said made sense.  Lakshman's father refused to beat his wife, though.  "This is America," he said.  "I will go to jail and you will be sitting in India eating warm pakoras." 
--From "You Are Happy?," a short story by Akhil Sharma, The New Yorker (April 17, 2017), pp. 58-63.

Five summers slipped by.  I went to school in the village and in the afternoons I helped Father with the fields.  Father drove an MTZ-50, a tractor made in Minsk.  He'd put me on his lap and make me hold the steering wheel and the steering wheel would shake and twitch in my hands, as the tractor plowed diagonally, leaving terribly distorted lines behind.
        "My arms hurt," I'd say.  "This wheel is too hard."
        "Nose," Father would say, "quit whining.  You're not holding a wheel.  You're holding Life by the throat.  So get your shit together and learn how to choke the bastard, because the bastard already knows how to choke you." 
--From "East of the West," a short story by Miroslav Penkov, The PEN/O'Henry Prize Stories 2012, pp. 157-181.  ("East of the West" was first published in Orion Magazine in May/June 2011).

Tom is born in 1914 in Detroit, a quarter mile from International Salt.  His father is offstage, unaccounted for.  His mother operates a six-room, underinsulated boardinghouse populated with locked doors, behind which drowse the grim possessions of itinerant salt workers: coats the color of mice, tattered mucking boots, aquatints of undressed women, their breasts faded orange.  Every six months a miner is fired or drafted or dies and is replaced by another, so that very early in his life Tom comes to see how the world continually drains itself of young men, leaving behind only objects--empty tobacco pouches, bladeless jackknives, salt-caked trousers--mute, incapable of memory.  
--From "The Deep," a short story by Anthony Doerr, The PEN/O'Henry Prize Stories 2012, pp. 352-370.  ("The Deep" was first published in Zoetrope, Volume 14, Number 3, in Fall 2010).

Friday, June 30, 2017

Poems by Charles Kell, Katha Pollitt, and Lynne Knight

when I opened his bed-
room door, staring, 
for a second.

He never noticed, 
or woke, if sleeping . . . 
--From "My Father Sick, resting with a Rag Covering his Face," a poem by Charles Kell, Linden Avenue, No. 61 (June 2017).

When I was a child I understood everything
about, for example, futility.  Standing for hours
on the hot asphalt outfield, trudging for balls
I'd ask myself, how many times will I have to perform
this pointless task, and all the others?
--From "What I Understood," a poem by Katha Pollitt, from her collection The Mind-Body Problem (Random House, 2009).  (Thanks to José Angel Araguz for drawing my attention to the poem via this blog post, which includes the poem in full.)

We were near a waterfall when he asked
if I'd marry him.  I said yes
because he was kind to my daughter

and my mistakes of the past few years
had taught me that being smart isn't everything: 
I was smart, and look what I'd done . . . 
--From "The Waterfall," a poem by Lynne Knight, from her collection The Persistence of Longing (Terrapin Books, 2016), p. 25.  "The Waterfall" originally appeared in The Gathering 11.

We broke things.  Glasses, a lead crystal vase, 
the ceramic chicken painted à la portuguaise. 
--From "Survival," a poem by Lynne Knight, from her collection The Persistence of Longing (Terrapin Books, 2016), p. 26.  "Survival" originally appeared in Green Mountains Review.  It also appeared in Poetry Daily (November 10, 2016).

I used to wait at the window for lake-effect snow.
First wind, then then a thin smattering of flakes . . . 
--From "The Snow Couple," a poem by Lynne Knight, from her collection The Persistence of Longing (Terrapin Books, 2016), pp. 27-28.  "The Snow Couple" originally appeared in Marin Poetry Center Anthology.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Poems by Adam Chiles and Darren C. Demaree, and a novel-in-stories by Alice Munro


seemed lost without his ear, a silenced spigot, 
adrift without a doorway, . . . 
--From "My Father's Hearing Aid," a gorgeous poem by Adam Chiles, on a broadside with artwork by Cheryl Gross, Broadsided Press (June 1, 2017).

I took 
a lot
of time

to think 
the epic . . . 
--From "Warm #115," a poem by Darren C. Demaree, Gnarled Oak (November 10, 2016).

"What do you want?" she said softly to Anna.  Instead of answering, Anna called out for Patrick.  When he came she sat up and pulled them both down on the bed, one on each side of her.  She held on to them, and began to sob and shake.  A violently dramatic child, sometimes, a bare blade.

"You don't have to," she said.  "You don't have fights anymore." 
--From "Providence," a short story by Alice Munro, from her collection of interconnected stories about a woman and her stepmother, The Beggar Maid: Stories of Rose and Flo (Vintage, 1977).  "Providence" (pp. 137-155 in the 1991 paperback version of the book) was originally published in Redbook (August 1977).

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Fiction by Chris Drangle and Ha Jin, and an essay on DNA editing by Michael Specter

Soleil was on her way to meet Warren for their first date when she ran out of gas.  The engine shuddered on its last fumes, and she looked down the highway at a long stretch of nothing.  She was alone on the road, save for one pair of headlights drawing closer in the rearview.  She put her hazards on, hoping to coast as long as possible, but the vehicle behind her, a black SUV, raced up to her bumper and stayed there.  High beams filled her mirrors.  She braked and pulled halfway onto the shoulder, and still it loomed close.  Teenage girl, no gas, highway at dusk--she felt her vulnerability like a chill in the air.  But as she rolled to a stop, the SUV swerved and accelerated, finally passing her with a snarl of engine rev.  She didn't want to look but did; two men in the cabin stared back, lit red by the instrument panel.  The driver had a dark beard.
--From "Optimistic People," a short story by Chris Drangle, One Story, Issue 224 (December 31, 2016).

When my roommate moved out, I was worried that Mrs. Chen might increase the rent.  I had been paying three hundred dollars a month for half a room.  If my landlady demanded more, I would have to look for another place.  I liked this colonial house.  In front of it stood an immense weeping cherry tree that attracted birds and gave a bucolic impression, though it was already early summer and the blossoming season had passed.  The house was close to downtown Flushing, and you could hear the buzz of traffic on Main Street.  It was also near where I worked, convenient for everything.  Mrs. Chen took up the first floor; my room was upstairs, where three young women also lived.  My former roommate, an apprentice to a carpenter, had left because the three female tenants were prostitutes and often received clients in the house.  To be honest, I didn't feel comfortable about that either, but I had grown used to the women, and especially liked Huong, a twiggy Vietnamese in her early twenties whose parents had migrated to Cholon from China three decades ago, when Saigon fell and the real estate market there became affordable.  Also, I had just arrived in New York and at times found it miserable to be alone.
--From "The House Behind a Weeping Cherry," a short story by Ha Jin, from his collection A Good Fall (Vintage International, 2009), pp. 195-219.  This story originally appeared in The New Yorker (April 7, 2008) and was later included in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009, edited by Laura Furman (Anchor Books, 2009).

Early on an unusually blustery day in June, Kevin Esvelt climbed aboard a ferry at Woods Hole, bound for Nantucket Island.  Esvelt, an assistant professor of biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was on his way to present to local health officials a plan for ridding the island of one of its most persistent problems: Lyme disease.  He had been up for much of the night working on his slides, and the fatigue showed.  
--From "Rewriting the Code of Life," an essay about DNA editing by Michael Specter, The New Yorker (January 2, 2017), pp. 34-43.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

An essay by Dianne Belfrey and a story collection by Yelizaveta P. Renfro

He pulled off the tarp to reveal a beautiful wooden sailboat.  I said he must be a sailor, and he replied that, no, he'd never been on a boat before he'd made this one, adding that he'd found a book at a stoop sale which had instructions for how to build a model boat, and thought that it would be fun to try to build a full-sized boat using it as a guide.  I didn't especially care about boats, or about sailing, but I did like stories such as this one.  When I asked him whether it worked, he laughed and looked down and said that he supposed it did, as he'd sailed it on the Hudson.  I blame everything on the boat.  If it hadn't been there, none of the rest would have happened.  I wouldn't have left my husband and run away with the man--I'll call him William--who had built it.  
--From "Adrift," a piece of personal history by Dianne Belfrey, The New Yorker (November 7, 2016), pp. 20-26.  (The story appeared online with the title "Fire and Water: A Brooklyn Love Story.")

(If his life were a video game, he would be a frantic middle-aged gnome, driving a bus with reckless speed, picking up and dropping off passengers, avoiding parked cars, slamming the brakes, punching the gas, rushing home to stop the evil blonde vixen from killing his trees, knocking her on the head with an oversized rubber mallet, hustling back to the bus to stay on schedule, then scrambling home to get the baby out of the crib, to feed the sad brunette who sits in front of a computer with gibberish thought bubbles over her head. . . .)
--From A Catalogue of Everything in the World: Nebraska Stories, a collection by Yelizaveta P. Renfro (Black Lawrence Press, 2010), winner of the St. Lawrence Book Award.  This segment is from the short story "Tree Roots" (pp. 36-49), which first appeared in Blue Mesa Review (Fall 2009).

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Spring 2017 issue of the Apple Valley Review

The Spring 2017 issue of the Apple Valley Review features short fiction by Siamak Vossoughi and Tom Gresham; an essay by Stephanie Paterson; poetry by Amorak Huey, Karen Schubert, Danielle Hanson, Kim Jacobs-Beck, José Angel Araguz, Mark Luebbers, Katherine Gekker, Joseph Chaney, and Sandra Kohler; and a cover photograph from India by Jorge Royan.  

The Apple Valley Review is a semiannual online literary journal.  The current issue, previous issues, subscription information, and complete submission guidelines are available at