Fiction & Fine Arts

The Paintings of Josie Gray
BY Josie Gray
TEXT BY Tess Gallagher

Sur la route de Nordesta
BY Antoine Olivier

BY Claire Paoletti


I inherited this story from my mother who got it from her mother; my grandmother received it from her father, who is the protagonist of the piece. It is set in a small village in the mountainous Spanish province of Extremadura, mere millimetres from the Portuguese border on most maps of Europe. One century is about to displace another in a world that radio, television, and the automobile have yet to colonize. In many places, including this remote town, streetlights, too, are unknown. When night falls, it covers everything. When the moon is absent, you have torchlight and your wits to guide you.

The hour was late, the moon weak, and the streets deserted.

On this particular night, on the lip of a new century, my great-grandfather (let’s call him Antonio, his given name) left the only taberna in the town. The hour was late, the moon weak, and the streets deserted. To keep himself company, he sang what was nothing more than a medley of drinks, things he’d had and things he wished he’d had. In no particular order (then realized it was alphabetical), he recited: absinthe, beer, cider. No matter how much he tried, he couldn’t get past “c” and rummaged for something else to sing. Sirve me otro, something his grandfather used to sing, came to him. Sirve me otro que tengo la garganta seca. As he sang, he let his legs direct him home in the dark: they’d done it before, and he trusted them completely.

He remembered only one verse and repeated it until he realized he wasn’t singing alone. Somewhere up ahead, in the dusty plain that separated the town from Antonio’s house, a voice was singing the second verse of the song. Mañana beberemos otra vez el mismo vino, el mismo vino.

FROM Inheritance
J.M. Villaverde


“…it’s common even in today’s dance writing to speak of a dancer’s innocence, passion, and spirit without acknowledging the dangerous assumption we’re making. I’ll call this longstanding habit of dance the psychological fallacy: everything we see is the dancer’s own soul, usually laid bare by the skill of the choreographer, which allows her to become what she really is.”

FROM Notes: Towards an Embodied Art
BY Lightsey Darst
Dancer Amina
(Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 2008)


My mother cried when I was born: an all-out, heaving fit. She arrived home from the hospital hard-breathed and hysterical: “A girl!” she wailed. “We’ve had a girl!”

It was a calamity that no one had expected, or understood. My brothers stood there bald-faced. “What does it mean?” Nathan, the oldest, had been through this drill so many times: one, two, three, four, five siblings. He hadn’t expected any sort of surprise.

“It means,” my mother told them, “that we’re going to have to work harder now. We’ve got to keep an eye out.” Girls were fragile; that was her main objection. The 1960s was still an era of motherly panic…

FROM Holes in the Sky
BY Susan Meyers

I don’t know why I’m bothering to write to you. You’re dead, for one thing. All we really share is a love for Glenn Gould and long sentences, probably that’s the same love in different forms. Forms of art. I think it’s mostly because I want to borrow your complaining tone. Really, your skill at complaining and making the reader keep reading, even liking, the diet of groans, the antiphonal maledictions of your characters. Such skill, skill indeed. But immer schimpfend, said a woman in Vienna years ago when I said I liked your work, she didn’t like it, you were always bitching. Maybe some other word, meaning to complain and to blame, at once. I have a lot to complain about, and who else can be trusted to listen but a dead man, a man what’s more who in some sense chose to be a dead man at this very time when I need a living man…

FROM Letter to Thomas Bernhard
BY Robert Kelly

Galia’s parents were the kind who bought the bar of chocolate before she asked for it. Approaching middle age when they had her, they’d had time to anticipate her needs. They bought shoes before she could walk, a dictionary before she could talk, and a battery of pens, pencils, and paintbrushes when her fingers were still doughy and fat. They purchased her grades in batches at the start of the Bulgarian school year: They could get a whole semester of sixes with a side of pork or wool enough to knit two sweaters. They bought her ticket to the University a year in advance. They bought her valedictory remarks from Petya Docheva, the smartest girl in class. For a ten-minute speech printed on note cards, Petya charged the amount she needed to cover the University entrance exam fee.

BY Asia Rymenov Petrov, Age 10

FROM Galia
BY Cynthia Morrison Phoel
REPRINTED FROM The Gettysburg Review (Volume 19, Number 3, Autumn 2006) WITH THE AUTHOR’S PERMISSION

Lighthouse at Pt. Pinos
BY Andrena Zawinski
A poet and writing teacher, ANDRENA ZAWINSKI is an avid shutterbug in her spare time. Her photos (some garnering awards) have appeared in various literary magazines. She is the Features Editor at
Editors’ Favorites


A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1997-2008
BY Adrienne Rich
(W.W. Norton, 2009)

“The eye has become a human eye only when its object has become a social, human object, made by man for man,” wrote Marx in 1844. Rich’s latest collection of essays derives its title from this critical observation, offering us her honest, lucid, contextual insights on socio-political transformations or controversies through poetics. Although often inclined towards ideology and Marxist influences, she neither aestheticizes nor imposes polemics upon poetry as a “social practice,” writing without pretense or intellectual jargon. She interrogates and investigates subjects such as translations of Iraqi poetry, three classic socialist manifestoes, James Baldwin, Muriel Rukeyser, correspondence between Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov, and LeRoi Jones… which are subjects that have also rightfully claimed Rich’s social and artistic convictions over the past forty years.

— Greta Aart

Eat, Memory
EDITED BY Amanda Hesser
(W.W. Norton, 2009)

“Writers know that if you want to portray a person succinctly, tellingly, you describe the way he eats. Food is the royal road to the unconscious,” declares Amanda Hesser in her delicious introduction. Voilà: a collection of the 26 best essays from The New York Times Magazine‘s food column — all about food, but not only about food. Memories evoked by food matter more than the food consumed, as every writing demonstrates wittingly, each in itself an authentic story, and an original taste: sweet, sour, bitter, enduring.

— Greta Aart

Writers in Paris
BY David Burke
(Counterpoint Press, 2008)

Didn’t Edmondo De Amicis once claim, “One never sees Paris for the first time; one always sees it again?” Burke’s dynamic mapping of this special city illustrates how countless inspired and disillusioned writers from all over the world write Paris in life and in art. Sly, eclectic, yet packed with an utmost humor, this book traces these writers’ footsteps, street by street and across all times, mingling the fictional memories they have penned with colorful historical or biographical facts. An enthralling read.

— Greta Aart


Ordinary Genius: A Guide for the Poet Within
BY Kim Addonizio
(W.W. Norton, 2009)

A comprehensive guide to writing poetry, packed with fresh, useful exercises (e.g., write an “American Sentence,” invented by Allen Ginsberg and consisting of seventeen syllables). Each chapter weaves together poetry and creativity through the focus of a particular topic, and includes many examples of bringing a poem into being. Addonizio’s list of qualities of what she responds to as a reader and tries to achieve as a poet is a handy summation of what every poet should know. Numerous salient quotes from a variety of artists, from Leonard Cohen to Agnes De Mille, offer encouragement from different perspectives. This is a book of wide experience and good counsel, for those already writing poetry as well as for the beginner.

— Sally Molini

Theories of Falling
BY Sandra Beasley
(New Issues Press, 2008)

Winner of the 2007 New Issues Poetry Prize, Sandra Beasley’s Theories of Falling is a beautifully clear-headed collection of poems. Every page offers an elegant yet steely twine of revelation and humor. The “Allergy Girl” sequence is a stand-out, laced with large and small intimacies, from toxic to romantic, and both combined. A wonderful debut.

— Sally Molini

Wild Gratitude
BY Edward Hirsch
(Alfred A. Knopf, 2003)

Published in 1986 and reprinted in 2003, this timeless exploration of family history, the heart “ghostly with losses,” cityscapes, and art combines luscious imagery with carefully delineated narratives to sweep the reader from an American summer to Leningrad in the early 1940s. One of the outstanding collections from the past few decades.

— Karen Rigby

Sin Puertas Visibles
(University of Pittsburgh
Press, 2003)

Sin puertas visibles (No Visible Doors) features for the first time a surprising mixture of dense and exhilarating poetry and prose from emerging Mexican women writers, both from and outside Mexico City, all in their 30s till late 40s: Angélica Tornero, Ofelia Pérez Sepúlveda, Cristina Rivera-Garza, Ana Belén López… The fact that Mexican women writers find it hard to have their public place renders — all the more — this book as an insightful tool towards understanding their hidden voices and little known poetic practice.

— Greta Aart


Solntse (The Sun)
DIRECTED BY Alexander Sokurov
(Nikola Film, 2005)

An unusual autobiographical film that intimately portrays Japan’s Emperor Hirohito during the period of surrender at the end of World War II. Haunting, dense, minimalist, and poised, actor Ogata’s performance reveals Hirohito as a man surviving at the mercy of history.

— Greta Aart

Die Große Stille
(Into Great Silence)

DIRECTED BY Philip Gröning
(Philip Gröning Filmproduktion, 2005)

What is life like inside the famed Carthusian monastery? This poetic film embodies the world of silence that monks have chosen in their quest for spirituality. Hidden deep in the French Alps, the Grande Chartreuse is one of the world’s most ascetic monasteries since the 11th century. Like photography in motion, this masterpiece visually defines infinity as time and space.

— Greta Aart

Cold Comfort Farm
DIRECTED BY John Schlesinger
(BBC Films, 1995)

A parody of the gloomy rural tale often found in British fiction (Thomas Hardy and the Brontë novels among them), this is a close and arguably perfect adaptation of Stella Gibbons’ humorous 1932 novel. Recent orphan Flora Poste (Kate Beckinsale) moves from London to live with relatives at the farm, where quirky, ragged characters and an old, well-tended doom pervade. Flora, or “Robert Poste’s Child,” as she is called by the fairly medieval Starkadders, feels the need “to tidy” the farm and its inhabitants’ lives. The cast, which includes the great Eileen Atkins and Sir Ian McKellen, is superb, as are the script and art direction. Happy scranletin’ at Tickle Penny’s Corner.

— Sally Molini


Censoring an Iranian Love Story

Censoring an Iranian Love Story
BY Shariar Mandanipour
(Alfred A. Knopf, 2009)

This metafictional account of lovers defying cultural norms is a welcome departure from the more common exposés of life behind the veil. An intellectual romance, a winding caper through a web of censorship dating back to ancient Iran, and a self-referential, ingenious, high-spirited novel, rendered faithfully in a rich translation by Sara Khalili.

— Karen Rigby

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