Bass Lake

Otto dipped the oars just below the surface, pulling farther away from the cabin his family had rented for the summer. The flat-bottomed boat rode over the small waves. Fir, oak, and hickory grew from the silt and rocks at the water’s edge. Aside from a few homes and summer rentals scattered among the low… More

Charles Baxter’s “There’s Something I Want You to Do”

There’s Something I Want You to Do, Charles Baxter Pantheon Books, 2015. 978-1-101-87001-3 HEED THE REQUEST Although familiar characters pop in and out of Charles Baxter’s created world, the stories in his newest collection are foremost linked by thematics—each poses the same question of the protagonists, and in doing so requests the reader participate as… More

Animal Instincts

They feared few things more than losing their dog, or their dog dying, whether by causes natural or unnatural. Sim, a third generation bee keeper, and his wife Tawnya, a design assistant, would probably rather lose their house, they loved that dog so much, and had experienced too many scares over the years. He’d been… More

When You Say It Straight Out Like That

Joan Hill Edith Willoughby used scraps of newspaper and clear tape to mark her possessions. In her shaky scrawl she wrote her daughter’s name, Sarah, and tore it from the edge of an article about a mother who drove her minivan into the ocean with her three children strapped inside. Edith’s plan was that when… More

A Few Cans of Beer

Robert Earle Even earlier than Charlie across the street, Jack headed for the postal facility in North Philadelphia in his ‘61 Dodge Polara—the only good thing he ever got from his old man although it was ugly as sin. He had a grimy but trouble-free drive right past where he grew up in Roxborough, a… More

Review: Sam Lipsyte’s “The Fun Parts”

Michael McDermit Sam Lipsyte’s rascally prose is not without a hot-blooded, pumping core. That’s important; probably the most important factor to note of the author’s writing. Too often within today’s fiction (an age where sardonic wit and showbiz irony run unchecked) the idea of a piece is its focal point, while the individuals toiling within… More

Unforgiving

Ree Davis The hospital is getting smaller in the car’s rear window, as if I have the power to shrink its sprawling brick monolith and close off its merciless little rooms. Doves huddle around the empty cupola. Deserter, they say. Tall windows yawn open like mouths echoing the birds. Deserter. My daughter’s Cadillac is a… More

If You’re Listening to This

Benjamin Roesch Luke found himself in a small room with no windows. There was porn of all persuasions. There were tissues and baby wipes. There was Jergens almond scented lotion. He selected a magazine called Studs and flipped its glossy pages, past men in chaps and thongs and cut offs. They were oiled and impressive… More

Who Has Time for Stars?

Benjamin Roesch The holidays, as usual, had played her for a damn fool. Had plied her with deep fried turkey. With gravy and greens. With her daughter’s big eyes and the promise of Santa! With the temptation of Dale’s annual felt box of something shiny. With glitter shirts and midnight kisses. But now it was… More

Blaze Orange

Sam Neis The lawns are green and damp and deep. The trees rise up dark-trunked from beds of pachysandra. Back behind their hanging leaves the houses sit in greeny dapple-light. In some yards plastic toy cars and scooters lie abandoned. The greenest lawns though, bear no trace of children. That is too much work. One… More

Has Anybody Seen My Gal?

Sutton Strother When her father died, Granny couldn’t afford a casket. She refused everyone’s money, and in the end, when she could think of nothing meaningful to do with the ashes they brought her, she poured what was left of my great-grandfather into the kitchen trashcan. “He’ll get where he’s going, anyhow,” she told us.… More

Conditioning

Dusty Cooper Shotgun shells rolled on the floorboard of Tarot’s pick-up, clanking across the bare metal as he navigated sharp curves. The trip up the mountain hadn’t been so bad. The trip down threatened to pull the axle apart. He’d bought the old truck from a man outside of Tempe, AZ. The seller’s ad was… More

Little Miracles

J.S. Simmons The ad in the back of the paper claimed she was twenty-three. As she climbed the stairs and smiled, chin lifted toward the landing, Jack saw the lines in her face, the gray strands at the crown of her head where roots showed beneath the bleach job. He tried to tell himself it… More

At the Beach, After the Fact

Patricia O’Donnell Four young women make their way through groups of people on spread-out towels and blankets. This is the third day of unusually warm weather for June in Maine, and the beach is crowded. They find a spot close to the water, near the line where the sand is wet, and shake out their… More

Weight

Ashleigh Eisinger Jessie stands before me, a circus mirror image of the woman I married ten years earlier. Slight and shriveled, the sight of her furthers my longing for the plump blonde that used to laugh with me, that same woman who would not hesitate to shear off her top and slacks before crawling into… More

In the News – Part 4

Alan Drew PART 4 OF 4 Read Part 1 Here Read Part 2 Here Read Part 3 Here “Everything all right, Sarah?” Roberta yelled out from her desk as she passed in the hallway. It was the next morning. Sarah thought she might be able to slip by again, not have to speak to her… More

Girl Group

Dylan James Brock While Sarah Witherspoon was still alive she was a mockingbird with a tin ear. Her attempts to recreate beauty never did justice to what she mimicked. When not insulting her outright, people called her Spoony. She was a plain brunette with thin hair and a thick brow that kept her from being… More

In the News – Part 3

Alan Drew PART 3 OF 4 Read Part 1 Here Read Part 2 Here She made the mistake of turning on the television–something to relieve the silence of the house–and there he was on the evening news, a headline, one of three bodies. On a radio talk show a psychologist discussed the state of our… More

In the News – Part 2

Alan Drew PART 2 OF 4 Read Part 1 Here She and Dominic had only been meeting for three weeks, but it had really started months before that with a journal entry she wasn’t supposed to read. Nothing about Seth’s appearance betrayed a bat wielding attacker, and Bryson, he was on his way to UCLA,… More