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Archive for the ‘Transcendence’ Category

Kip Tobin

The Athiest and the Believer

November 8th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

LA RIOJA, SPAIN

The atheist and the believer walked together on the path that followed the highway, looking for light.

Everything visible was dampened gray, as if some colossal waterlogged blanket was thrown on top of their sky and hung there, dripping. Incessant raindrops had been pricking their faces for over two hours, and the cutting wind foretold the road ahead without visible end. The others had gone ahead, and they couldn’t see anything except for the highway to their right, the miry path directly in front and the snow-quilted fields to the left that were melting reluctantly in the cold rain.

The panorama was muddy, leaden, soppy.

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D.R. Haney

The Dark Undone

November 6th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

LOS ANGELES—

The thought came to me when I was fifteen and trying to sleep on New Year’s Eve. Nothing I recall had happened to incite it. I’d spent the night babysitting my younger siblings while my mother attended a party, and she returned home around one in the morning and everyone went to bed. (My parents had divorced, though they continued to quarrel as if married.) My brother was sleeping in the bunk below mine, and as I stared at the ceiling and listened to the house settle, I thought: Why don’t you go into the kitchen and get a knife and stab your family to death?

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Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 4: Still Loving Morrissey and Shopping at the Gap

October 23rd, 2009
by Suzanne Burns

BEND, OR-

Don’t ever agree to your book being published if you have a fear of public speaking. I can say that, over the past five months, I have almost completely conquered this fear. I have beaten it out of myself. My husband has stood by, helplessly watching the self-berating, doling out the necessary Kleenex and gelato cups, weighing in on every outfit I’ve tried on. My vain (in more ways than one) attempt at looking just the right combination of serious literary writer and hot-ass bitch has culminated in committing the worst of sins: I bought a black T-shirt from the Gap.

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Rich Ferguson

Karma Driving School

October 15th, 2009
by Rich Ferguson

LOS ANGELES -

Author’s Note: I want to thank Jessica Larsen for the photo that she took during her recent travels in Varanasi, India.

Let’s go back to the very beginning / get in that car / get behind the wheel / rev the engine to pure devotion / our each and every dream – sparkling motion / relearn brake, gas, and clutch / not so much to speed us through these streets / but to clearly see that our each and every action ripens into results / bad equals bad / good equals good / it’s not some tricky math / nothing like finding the perimeter of all human suffering / what it is is the world coming from us / not at us / karma driving school

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D.R. Haney

Saved by Demon Song

October 11th, 2009
by D.R. Haney

I’m hungry. I have no money at all, none is expected soon, and there’s no one from whom I can borrow. I pace all night, wondering how to come by a few dollars to eat.

Finally, slowly, a plan unfolds: I can walk down the street to an ATM, fill out a deposit slip for a phantom check, feed the slip to the ATM, and request a cash advance. The bank, of course, will quickly discover that no check accompanied the deposit slip, but once I’m contacted, I’ll simply say that, being in a hurry, I forgot. By then I hope to have thought of someone who’s willing to cut me a bona fide check.

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Paul Clayton

IeBAF 2001

October 10th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

You’re a writer, right? You’ve been writing for eight years, ten years, fifteen… and you’ve had a few small successes. But not with ‘the book,’ the one you poured your heart into over the years, the one that is not merely an entertainment, but is true, containing the essence of yours and others’ experiences, and the little bit of insight it all gave you. You’ve submitted it to the big New York houses hundreds (sometimes it seems like thousands) of times… with no result other than enough rejection slips to stuff a queen sized mattress.

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Zara Potts

Friday Night Fail

October 9th, 2009
by Zara Potts

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - 

Every couple of years or so, I have a Friday night like this.

A seemingly endless, no-fun filled Friday night that makes me feel like the World’s Biggest Loser.

I want to go out but nobody wants to go out with me. I want to do something, but I don’t know what I want to do. I’m bored and I’m restless and I just know everyone else on the planet is having a really good time.

Without me.

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Meghan Elizabeth Hunt

All that Junk, Rattling around My Brain (AKA, the Ramblings of a Constantly Musing Woman)

October 6th, 2009
by Meghan Elizabeth Hunt

COLUMBIA, MD -

I grew up in a small village on the Connecticut River in northern New Hampshire. There were more trees and cows than there were people and up until I was a surly teenager, I loved it.

Then puberty hit and I despised my little hamlet. Outside of my family, there wasn’t a single reason to stay and every day brought me closer to college and escape.

Now I’m 10 years past that day and 4 years past the day I left New England completely behind and every fall my heart hurts. It’s like the ache you associate with an old injury, the kind of pain cold weather and rainy days bring.

Leaving New England was like breaking up with a childhood romance.

I often wonder if I’ll ever get over it completely.

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Suzanne Burns

Diary of a First Book, Entry 3: Voodoo Doughnuts and First Loves

September 28th, 2009
by Suzanne Burns

BEND, OR-

I have learned many things over the past few months of book touring. Number one, grabbing a book-buying audience’s attention in the summer months is like convincing me that Dan Brown, or Stephen King, is a good writer. Number two, if you read in a venue where they make maple-bacon doughnuts, they will come. Number three, there is no other bookstore like Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. (more…)


Dawn Corrigan

On the Persistence of Jealousy

September 20th, 2009
by Dawn Corrigan

GULF BREEZE, FL -

Four weeks ago my grandmother fell and broke her hip.

She hasn’t been home since. First she was in the hospital, and now she’s in a nursing home to receive physical therapy.

My grandfather visits as often as he can. But because he doesn’t drive anymore, he has to rely on others to drive him to visit her. And even when he does visit, it’s for an hour at a time. Whereas my grandmother is used to having him around all day, every day.

Because my grandfather isn’t around and my grandmother doesn’t understand why, like anyone in love, she imagines the worst. She pictures him whooping it up with others.

And then, because she has dementia, she believes what she’s imagined is real.

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Ben Loory

Tarnishment of the Living Apparatus

September 15th, 2009
by Ben Loory

LOS ANGELES, CA-

There is no point to this. The point is that I’m getting sick. I just noticed it an hour ago. Suddenly I am blowing my nose. Out of nowhere. And now feeling a little wonky. So I took some vitamin C and ate about 14 pounds of sautéed spinach and now I am sitting here waiting to die. If the pig flu gets me tell them I was an okay guy. Kind of quiet and not very good at tennis, but basically decent.
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Uche Ogbuji

A Thousand Words: Cousin. Nieces.

September 15th, 2009
by Uche Ogbuji

BOULDER, CO-

It was early in the morning.  Lori answered the phone and handed it to me.  My father’s voice.

“Uche…there’s been a terrible…”

“Uche…you should know…”

A pause as gruesome guesswork played through my mind.  I wanted to hear rather than continue imagining, but did I really want to hear?  He drew a constricted breath, and it came in a wave before his voice broke.

“Uche, Chika died tonight.  Imose died tonight.  Little Anya is just barely hanging on…”

Died.  Died.  Barely hanging on.

My nieces.

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Rebecca Adler

The Fear of What’s Out There

September 14th, 2009
by Rebecca Adler

ISTANBUL, TURKEY-

After traipsing around Europe for weeks with a giant backpack strapped to me, I’ve finally made it. I’ve arrived. And oh, how things are so different here than I could have ever imagined. After all of the warnings and strange looks from friends and family, I’m here and I can finally say with confidence and first-hand knowledge: You don’t know what you’re talking about. Istanbul is amazing and beautiful. The people are kind and the city is modern. There’s nothing to worry about.

I’ve thought about misconceptions a lot in the few days since I’ve arrived here, and I’ve talked about it a lot with the new friends I’ve made since arriving. It’s sad to me that the only things we ever hear about each others’ countries are the negative things. After all, it’s always going to be blood and guts that get people to read the newspapers. Nobody wants to read that the sun is shining and the birds are singing. No, we all need to be whipped up into a constant state of paranoia over What’s Out There, The Other. (more…)


Paul Clayton

Smiley Face Fiction

September 13th, 2009
by Paul Clayton

SAN FRANCISCO-

I sent one of my stories to a so-called literary magazine and got back the strangest rejection letter I’ve ever received — and I’ve been doing this for over thirty years. I’d never heard of The @$$!@# Reader until the night I picked up (but didn’t buy) a copy at my local Borders where I go with my daughter, D, every Wednesday afternoon. (more…)


David Breithaupt

Beer Tubes at the Steak House

September 13th, 2009
by David Breithaupt

COLS, OH-

At 11:30 each morning, John the stroke victim delivers the mail to our office. I hear him before he appears, hobbling down the hall like a peg-legged pirate, tilting, rhythmic, yet inching forward, accumulting feet and yards until at last he is in our office doorway.

Some people have coffee or smoke breaks, I have John. He is a mile post in my day. I know he will spend the next half hour struggling to tell me what he did yesterday or what he will do today. He lives in a realm of scaled down choices - lunch, movies or libraries. Everyday I tell him I might just leave and join him and everyday he shakes his head and grunts in acceptance, “come!” (more…)


Christopher Eaton

A Thousand Words: Home Again, Home Again

September 5th, 2009
by Christopher Eaton

CHICAGO, IL -

I don’t remember the first house I grew up in, though I have mental pictures of it from stories my parents tell. I know that it had a skylight. A school maintenance man climbed through it one chill New England day to rescue my locked-out family. New Hampshire houses weren’t locked in those days, so no one carried latch keys—inconvenient given that my toddler fingers were testing their new-found dexterity on deadbolts. Having denied my family entry, I sat in the kitchen, crying over the burned dinner and all the other heated activity I had set in motion.

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Peter Schwartz

Faith Isn’t Stupid

September 4th, 2009
by Peter Schwartz

AUGUSTA, ME-

I’ve been noticing with greater and greater alarm that atheism is getting more and more popular in literary and academic circles. In fact, the majority of writers and scholars believe that anyone who believes in God must be naive and stupid. You aren’t smart enough, aren’t sophisticated enough to realize that God doesn’t exist and that life is pretty much shit. As the old saying goes, misery loves company. Now I don’t claim to be some highfalutin intellectual (fingers corn cob pipe thoughtfully for effect) but my great grand-daddy left me with at least this much sense: anything that makes you miserable ain’t all that good. (more…)


Greg Olear

A Sad Song Made Better

September 1st, 2009
by Greg Olear

ASTORIA, N.Y.-

We moved on the first of September. Left our 400-square-foot fifth-floor walk-up on East Seventh Street in Manhattan’s East Village—an apartment that cost a staggering $1,800 a month—for a bigger, cheaper, cleaner, safer one-bedroom in Astoria, the part of Queens comprising the westernmost extremity of Long Island, directly across the East River from Yorkville.

We haven’t even been here two weeks. The cable hasn’t been turned on yet. The guy from Time Warner is supposed to come tomorrow—Wednesday, September 12, 2001.

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Kip Tobin

Mil Palabras: Guadalajaran Trees

August 30th, 2009
by Kip Tobin

August 30, 2029

GUADALAJARA, Mexico

In those days, I was finishing up a degree in the Spanish language in Guadalajara, Mexico, riding the wave of what was left of my mid-life postponement, wedged between two countries, two languages, girlfriends, professions, et al. I remember I turned 36 there, straddling the fence between youth and middle-age, having just moved from Madrid where I had lived for almost six years, and the six weeks in Mexico was an understated adjustment, preceded by the initial shock that Mexico was not even second but third world.

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Alexander Chee

Learning to Love Long Duk Dong

August 28th, 2009
by Alexander Chee

AMHERST, MA -

When Long Duk Dong appears for the first time during Sixteen Candles, a gong rings, and if you’re of East Asian descent, as you see his face swing down over the bunk bed and the halo of black hair appear around his head (and Samantha screams) you experience a moment of PTSD, remembering every time anyone ever followed you on the street softly muttering “ching-chong-ching-chong-ching-chong”.

The experience I have of Sixteen Candles is a complicated one. The pleasure for me is being in love with Jake Ryan right alongside Samantha, her story an allegory for my own awkwardness and desires as a gay teen back then. Being overlooked on your birthday because your perfect sister is getting married—even if she’s marrying someone no one likes—is a metaphor for being gay in America in the 80s. There’s a reason Molly Ringwald became a gay icon for life after this film, in other words. (more…)