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the meaning of stuff > One Million Maniacs

"Princess," the commemorative Princess Diana Beanie Baby bear,

first edition, royal violet with lace around her throat, a white rose over her heart, currently lists on eBay in upwards of three-hundred fifty-thousand dollars.


Cali's best writing > Golden State 2017

In honeyed Beach Boys past and neon Blade Runner future,

the dream of this state promises novel predictability, a quotidian nouveau.


all things arboreal > Rooted

Trees are a gate to the larger world beyond us.

They are the opposite of a cell phone. They defy self-absorption.


The Complex > Wire Mother Monkey Baby

Cinquo de Marcho

You should know, precocious journal, that I’ve decided to move my life in a more positive direction in general.


the Family Farm > Family Genus Species

Vee just wants to know where to put the present.

She’s gripping it, two-handedly, thumbs flicking the curled-up corners of tape. She’s holding it at a distance like a bomb, or maybe just something smelly.


Degas in New Orleans > The Lost Sketchbook

I have been unpacking boxes in this new house all morning,

hoping to comb through as many as I can. Soon Didi will come over to help, and in the afternoon—astonishing!— Honor Benoît.


origin stories > Forty-four American Boys

His father, with his thick moustache and hair combed back, was a stern, formal man. . .

who insisted on wearing a tie and jacket at home. A conservative Republican who admired Barry Goldwater, his father forbade his children from cursing or calling each other by nicknames....


seven clowns > Massive Cleansing Fire

He could be making better money doing customer service again.

But he needs this: the two of them, literally whirling through the world, city to city, thigh to thigh, heart to heart...


haunted romance > Following Disasters

Back before she got really sick, Aunt Beth said she was going to haunt me someday.

Later, after her face turned moony, her movements slow, and her words edged like the little serrations on a butter knife, seeming harmless at first but able to cut deep, it scared me to visit her.


country girls > Children of the Country

Sheri pushes her lips into a pout,

reveling in the feel of the satiny layers of Miami Samba coating her lips. She says it aloud, Miami Samba, loving the smooth, waxy taste.


double isolation > Witness

The Truth was brought to them by his great-grandfather returning from Argentina.

He had been a missionary and scholar of the Holy Scriptures. In 1931 the currently accepted name "Jehovah's Witnesses" was adopted. Three years later in Berlin, on October 7, 1934, Adolf Hitler said, "I will eradicate this vermin from Germany.


perfect synchronicity > What Becomes Us

She’s in a smoky log cabin trying to breathe.

Smoke stings her eyes into slits and pinches her throat closed. She is pressed everywhere by people and dogs and smoke and the smell of urine and sweat.


Twain revisited > The Adventures of Joe Harper

The day had come to die proper.

You mightn’t think life had nothing more to offer a 35-year-old Joe Harper, but then again you mightn’t have abandoned all your kin and returned home ten years on to find a St. Petersburg full of strangers. . .


from the treetops > On Heights & Hunger

I see a universe animated by appetite.

All history the story of hunger. For sustenance, shelter, and sex. The hunger for power and love. For fame and gold and vengeance. For a capital G God, or at least some lowercase substitutes.


menageries > The Well-Stocked and Gilded Cage

The morning after the quake (magnitude 6.0), my first since moving to California,

I call my mother, happy to break a cycle of redundant conversations about DMV, home owner’s insurance, and what percentage moved in we are.


Vertigo, Vertigo, Vertigo > Madeleine E.

We open already in pursuit of something ineffable:

the outline of a man Jimmy Stewart is chasing. We briefly see this man’s face in soft focus and shadowed, but, because we are not ready for it (how could we be? we have no context; we could ask “Will this be a main character?” but our next question would then be “In what?”) and because we never see it again, it might as well never have been shown.


Lou Mathews > Not Oliver Stone > California Prose Directory

I’m sitting by the back bar in the show room at the House of Blues.

This is the Sunset Strip House of Blues and if you know the joint you know what a feat it is to be sitting, because there are only a few quasi-chairs.


Catholicism > rough trade > Patrick Fitzmike and Mike Fitzpatrick

There is no great sense of loss for those with limited expectations.

Vague ache there may have been to contemplate the life of other boys who were also sons; inchoate envy of some sort was what if anything he likely felt to see many of those other boys even actually become, as the years went by, less the sons of and more the friends and fond companions of the men, even of the reprobate men; become less their sons eventually than loving doters on and helpers of the drunken penurious men or the flashing piratical rogues of whom great stories were told in their neighborhoods.


end-of-life care > hospice > Hope for A Cool Pillow

On the first day of my first clinical rotation

in the third year of medical school, I was assigned my first patient. Her name was Esther. An internal medicine resident told me to insert a urinary catheter into Esther, who hadn’t peed in a day or so.


Chicago > divisions > Adherence: A Romance

I can know Bradley’s arrival in Chicago without having seen it.

The air is gray, interacting with gray concrete, the grayness of pigeons, and is potent, for him, with far more than rain.



anarchy > Copenhagen > Welcome to Christiania

These people who think they are something, they are really not.

They come and go wrapped like gypsies at a carnival, sounding like artists, smelling of mildew. I can’t take them anymore.



Brazil > 1964 > The Marble Army

Our only home was in Minas do Leão.

The house was a salmon colored, two-story cube, with windows on all four sides, which made us feel as though we knew all there was to know about our town and its people. My mother’s favorite was the kitchen window, framing the meadow, the mine and beyond.



Brooklyn > music > generations > Devotion

Esther Savaris was halfway through her senior year of high school,

a pretty girl, seventeen years old and still growing (according to the doctor, who had known her all her life—who had delivered her into her life—and who, on the morning she turned up in his office, tearful and pleading with him to keep this visit a secret from her mother, measured her as if she really were still just a child and then announced that she had grown three-quarters of an inch since her last visit), when she ran away with János Bartha, her singing teacher, who was nearly seventy then, and by whom Esther, Dr. Azogue had confirmed, was three months pregnant.



dogs > love > Dog

The dog, the dog, the dog—the dog had taken over her life.

But this was not necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps she had needed to have her life taken over.



female slave trade > Vikings > Kama

SUN MONTH KIEV 934 CE

From the steps of the Big House where the two girls sat, it was possible to see past the market commotion through the open city gates to the brown trail that sloped towards the blue water, where the ships had docked.



Highsmith > Ripley > Tyler's Last

"My wife has gone to Marrakesh with her little French girlfriend,

my car has broken down, and the villa we’ve taken for the summer is right up this hill.” Tyler repeats what he plans to say if he runs into someone.



trans > surf legend > Becoming Westerly

“Do I look all right?”

asks Westerly Windina for what must be the fifth time in the last hour. Hunched forward in seat 39F of Thai Airways flight 474, she looks vulnerable, shrunken.



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