Posts Categorized: Fiction

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Fiction Feature: “Staccato” By Peter Tieryas Liu




Six weeks of every year, I take a trip to Beijing and invent a new “me.” I usually pick

international hotels because everyone there wears a costume too. Mine is “Esau Zhou”

and I sell vitamins to cows.

The hotel is in the Wudaokou area near one of the main universities, Tsing-Hua.

There’s lots of exchange students here, a thriving cultural mishmash in Beijing.

Partly drugged by jet lag and nocturnal remissions, I chat with Jean, a Korean art

student who paints noses over fingers as a motif on misguided sense. Abraham, a

disillusioned meteorologist, likes to ask, “If rain were as heavy as bullets, would people

have found a way to change weather, or would they have invented bullet-proof

umbrellas?” The German brunette across from me refuses to give her name, only dates

rich Chinese guys, and has a row with them every night before loud, raucous sex.

I talk about vitamins with the other guests. Cells normally subdivide until they die, I

explain, a vestige of reincarnation sucking away at the original. A healthy dose of

vitamin E can prolong age and life by increasing the durability of cell regeneration after


The first time I see Sarah Chao, she’s holding a violin with broken strings, sipping on a

cocktail in the lobby. She’s Chinese but has placid blue eyes that appear to drift.

Riveting is a word I shouldn’t use carelessly, as I’ve had bad experience with rivets. But

her eyes are riveting. Read more…

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Nonfiction Feature: “Cousin Mike: A Memoir” by Daniel Nester


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Anna Cabe (Fiction Editor): I was sucked into the essay as soon as I saw the form. A portrait of Daniel Nester’s father, Cousin Mike, and his fraught relationship with his family told through lists, text messages and emails, and a timeline of Cousin Mike’s get-rich-quick schemes, the narrative unfolds hilariously—and heartbreakingly. I’m awed by the richness of its detail, its smart structure, and its confidence. I’ve rarely seen an essay that takes such risks and succeeds so wildly.


These pieces appeared in Indiana Review 31.1, Summer 2009 

Daniel Nester is the author of Shader: 99 Notes on Car Washes, Making Out in Church, Grief, and Other Unlearnable Subjects. His other books include How to Be Inappropriate, and God Save My Queen I and II, The Incredible Sestina Anthology, which he edited. His writing has appeared in American Poetry Review, Electric Literature, New York Times, Buzzfeed, The Atlantic online, and anthologized in  The Best American Poetry, The Best Creative Nonfiction, Third Rail: The Poetry of Rock and Roll, and Now Write! Nonfiction. He teaches writing at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY.



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Fiction Feature: “Down” by Carmen Maria Machado


When a late-summer tornado leveled a nearby street four days after Sam’s eighth birthday, his father took him to see what was left. It was while standing in a crowd of gawking neighbors that Sam saw, with unprecedented wonder, that the surface structures for half the block were completely and utterly gone; their basements—the bones of their foundations—were exposed to the air.

It had never occurred to Sam that so much was underneath.

After that, he began to imagine, with some regularity, descending feet-first into the ground. As if in a kind of elevator, except he was the elevator, and able to see the things below, even when Mother Nature’s finger didn’t peel away the earth like a scab. He adored what could not be seen, what was definitely there in a way that could not easily be proven.

When he looked at gas stations, he saw volatile reservoirs of petrochemicals, motionless but dangerous. Trees were tangles of roots; stop signs were cement cylinders. During an early-season soccer game, Sam stopped just short of kicking the ball down the field because he could see nothing but aluminum cans, packed deep in the earth like razor blades in apples, flattened and buried after years of picnics and storms. When a group of protesters occupied a local park, Sam saw the sewage tank beneath their Porta-Potty, festering and blue.

When he and his father went camping in the mountains, Sam saw his stream of urine soaking into the pine needles as a constantly elongating shape, filtering unevenly through the layers of loam and dirt and stones in a funny, stretched-out line. This sent him into a fit of giggles. Only when it went on for four minutes, and then trickled off into a staggering moan, did his father realize that something was wrong. Sam said the word “her” seven times quickly, softer with each invocation, and then fell to the ground, twitching.

Full of guilt, the parents who had previously banned all video games on the grounds of brain-mush bought Sam Dig Dug.

Sam considered it the best present that he had ever received in his life. He slid the nub of the joystick one way, and then the other. He moved his man through bright layers of dirt like they were nothing. He made new paths and destroyed the monsters. His mother watched this from the doorframe, her lip curling in a way that she would remember twenty years later. She watched Sam sitting there, triangles of hair damp with sweat and plastered against his skin like a cartoon character’s, eyes focused on the screen, a drop of saliva in the crease of his mouth. She found herself reciting the title over and over in her head. Dig Dug. Dig Dug. Clipped present tense, protracted past. A thing that only ever got bigger.

Read more…

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Latifa Ayad is a Libyan-American writer whose fiction and nonfiction confronts issues of identity. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, The Normal School, Whiskey Island Magazine, and The Stockholm Review. Her piece “Out and Out” won The Master’s Review/PEN America 2017 Flash Fiction contest. Ayad holds her MFA from Florida State University.


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Kaitlyn Andrews-Rice received her MFA from American University, where she served as Editor-in-Chief of Folio. She is the editor of Split Lip Magazine, and her short fiction appears or is forthcoming in Booth and Copper Nickel. She lives and writes in Manchester-by-the-Sea, Massachusetts. Find her online @thelegitkar or