Our picks this week include Pacific Standard, The New York Times Magazine, Humanities Magazine, Tin House and Atlanta Magazine, with a guest pick by Christine Kim.
The writer and her husband, who live in the Sans Bois Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma, deal with a rattlesnake problem:
"Nineteen-year-old Faith comes in the door after a bit, hunting her camera. 'There’s a snake coiled in the yard,' she says, her voice remarkably calm. Little eight-year-old C.C. marches to the living room, stands in front of my snake-phobic mom, and announces: 'There’s a big snake in the yard, Grandma. We think it’s a rattling one.'
"Daddy is up from his easy chair and out the door like a shot. I hurry around trying to locate my phone to take pictures while the rest of the family troops out to see it—except for my mother, of course, who wouldn’t go out there on a dare.
"By the time I reach the porch, the rattler has uncoiled and begun crawling away from the house toward a flat nest of sandstone slabs and boulders beside the pond path. I catch a glimpse of it gliding rapidly through the dead grass, its diamond markings mottled, but distinct. Its size is almost beyond belief: even winding S-like that way, the rattler is longer and thicker than any I’ve ever seen."
PUBLISHED: Sept. 3, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3998 words)
Our picks this week include BuzzFeed, Mother Jones, The Stranger, Tin House, Bloomberg Businessweek and a guest pick by Sarah Bruning
Novelist Robert Boswell tells the story of how he met his wife, the author Antonya Nelson, and uses the story to explore how fiction is crafted:
"Why are we drawn to stories about people falling in love? There are likely a host of reasons, but here’s a good one: marriage, when observed from a place of solitude, has the power of dream. Solitary people fall in love with couples, imagining their own lives transformed by such a union. And once the transformation finally happens, people need to talk about it, telling not only their families, friends, and strangers on the bus but also themselves—repeating it to make it real, to investigate the mystery of marital metamorphosis. And they get good at the telling. People who cannot otherwise put together an adequately coherent narrative to get you to the neighborhood grocery will nonetheless have a beautifully shaped tale of how he met she (or he met he, or she met she) and became we."
PUBLISHED: June 3, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7468 words)
Hollywood screenwriter Budd Schulberg's unlikely collaboration with Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, who was arrested and asked to provide evidence at Nuremberg against war criminals:
"In subsequent interviews he continued the story: 'I had this warrant for her in my pocket. It was like burning a hole in my pocket … Finally I took the thing out and said, ‘Miss Riefenstahl, I'm sorry, but I have to take you to Nuremberg.' And that's when she screamed, "Puppi, Puppi … he's arresting me."' The little majordomo raced into the room, with Schulberg now realizing he was her husband. 'I tried to reassure her,' Schulberg continued. 'I said, "Look, you're not being put on trial with Goering and von Ribbentrop, but we do need you as a material witness."' He took her outside, where his driver and his vehicle awaited. The trip from Kitzbühel to Nuremberg was roughly 150 miles. 'She didn't say anything on the way ... She was very ticked off—very. And I guess scared.'"
PUBLISHED: March 2, 2013
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6763 words)
PUBLISHED: Dec. 1, 2012
LENGTH: 14 minutes (3719 words)
[Fiction] A grieving teen and his friend look for a place to drink:
"'Hey, you know what? Roy’s grandparents were Nazis.' Phillip leaned back and took a drink from his beer and put an arm around Veronica. 'I’m not even kidding. Tell them. Tell them about that time you found the swastika armbands and all that shit in your grandpa’s closet.'
"It was something I thought I had seen once, and maybe I had or I hadn’t, I wasn’t sure, and when I tried to remember what I had seen in that closet, and I put myself back in that room, all I could smell was talcum powder and see my grandma standing at the window, stiff and straight, staring out at nothing in the weak light, her back to me, the tears streaming because I had said it, I had said names, called her things, told her how my mother would disappear every time she got off the phone with her, my grandmother with her thick accent and twisted language, harsh, guttural, clipped through the phone, and for seventeen years I never once remembered my mother asking me how I felt—not once—how do you feel? Because feelings, she said, were lies. The only truth was in what you could see."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 28, 2012
LENGTH: 26 minutes (6676 words)
[Fiction] An elderly woman encounters her past at her nursing home:
"A beautiful day—even though Elise can smell chickens from the poultry complex down the road and exhaust from the interstate, even though the pear trees in this so-called orchard bear no fruit. The mums are in bloom. Bees glitter above the beds. And a skinny man comes toward her, showing off his mastery of the strap-on LIMBs.
"'Elise.' He squints at her. 'You still got it. Prettiest girl at Eden Village.'
"She flashes her dentures but says nothing."
PUBLISHED: April 1, 2012
LENGTH: 25 minutes (6494 words)
A kung fu master looks for new disciples to pass on his wisdom:
"Dr. Yang had never had difficulty attracting students in the past—YMAA, the Boston-based organization he founded in 1982, operates more than 60 martial arts schools worldwide—but after more than 25 years, Dr. Yang was growing tired of doling out his ancient teachings piecemeal. If he died, only fragments of that knowledge would survive.
"His dream was to transfer his entire legacy to a new generation in one fat chunk. But the legacy—white crane kung fu—was locked in his sinews, and the transfer would take time: 10 years, by his estimate, at the rate of six days per week. At the end of 10 years, Dr. Yang would be in his 70s and at the end of his ability to teach kung fu. It’s this urgency that explained the almost neurotic vigor he brought to his search for worthy disciples. He couldn’t risk investing effort in anyone who might bow out before the training was complete."
PUBLISHED: Feb. 7, 2012
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4086 words)