"Best American" News

Congratulations to all from NER


Congratulations to all who have been recognized in
Best American Essays 2015, including
Kate Lebo for her essay “The Loudproof Room” (NER 35.2)

Notable selections in this year’s list include:
“Village Bakery” by Ben Miller (NER 35.2)
“The Haircut” by Larry I. Palmer (NER 35.1)
“Kindle 451” by Jeff Staiger (NER 34.3-4)

to all those recognized in
Best American Short Stories 2015,
including Laura Lee Smith for her story “Unsafe at Any Speed” (NER 35.1)

Other Distinguished Stories selections include:
“Sloth” by Charles Baxter (NER 34.3-4)
“Studies in Composition” by Leslie Bazzett (NER 34.3-4)
“At the Bedside” by Ricardo Nuila (NER 35.1)
“Clear Conscience” by Christine Sneed (NER 35.3)

Congratulations to all featured in
Best American Mystery Stories 2015, including
Steven Heighton for his story “Shared Room on Union” (NER 35.1)

New Books from NER Authors

31x688yc99L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Mesmerizing and beautiful in the language and rhythms of his pen. ―Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

We congratulate NER contributor Reginald Dwayne Betts on the recent release of his poetic collection Bastards of the Reagan Era (Stahlecker Selections)His work appeared in NER 35.5.

Regniald Dwayne Bett’s Shahid Reads His Own Palm won the Beatrice Hawley Award. His memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, received the 2010 NAACP Image Award for nonfiction. He is a Yale Law student.

Bastards of the Reagan Era is available from independent booksellers.

41Nam6YLaYL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_Yusef Komunyakaa is one of our period’s most significant and individual voices . . . He has a near-revelatory capacity to give himself over to his subject matter . . . Dazzling. —David Wojahn, Poetry on Yusef Komunyakaa

We are also pleased to announce Komunyakaa‘s collection, The Emperor of Water Clocks (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux).

Komunyakaa’s books of poetry include the Pulitzer Prize-winning Neon VernacularTalking Dirty to the GodsTabooWarhorsesThe Chameleon Couch, and Testimony: A Tribute to Charlie Parker. His plays, performance art, and libretti have been performed internationally. He teaches at New York University.

The Emperor of Water Clocks is available from independent booksellers.

51cX2y5gkLL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_A truly interdisciplinary thinker, Gregerson reaches through literature, art, and the everyday to find territory in which the confounding conditions of our age still give rise to understanding and empathy.Publishers Weekly

NER is pleased to announce the publication of Linda Gregerson‘s first book of collected work, Prodigal: New and Selected Poems, 1976-2014 (Mariner Books). Gregerson’s work has appeared in multiple issues of NER, most recently NER 31.4.

Gregerson is the author of Waterborne, The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep, and Fire in the Conservatory. She teaches Renaissance literature and creative writing at the University of Michigan. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry as well as in the Atlantic, Poetry, Ploughshares, the Yale Review, TriQuarterly, and other publications. Among her many awards and honors are a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, four Pushcart Prizes, and a Kingsley Tufts Award.

Prodigal is available from independent booksellers.

513YIrt8CZL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Shards of elegy, lament, intermittent flashes of wit, a philosophical sensuality throughout: this is subtle, sophisticated, gorgeous, and unsettling work by a poet open to being ‘torn by the lyric’ as well as history. Sze-Lorrain aims ‘to honor / the invisible,’ ‘to get silence right’: she does. —Maureen N. McLane, author of My Poets

Fiona Sze-Lorrain‘s The Ruined Elegance: Poems has been published by Princeton University Press. Her work appears in NER 35.2.

Eleanor Wilner, author of Tourist in Hell, writes of Ruined Elegance: “The luminous art of Sze-Lorrain reveals how imaginative vision requires the veil. Hers is a contemporary, polycultural poetry, a language of distance and silence, rich with suggestion. The disparate, brilliant images of her Ruined Elegance fend off narrative, ‘torn by the lyric,’ whose instrument is more enduring than its players: its ‘strings stayed taut. None / broke. Her fingernails did.'”

Fiona Sze-Lorrain is a poet, literary translator, editor, and zheng harpist. The author of two previous books of poetry in English, My Funeral Gondola and Water the Moon, she also writes and translates in French and Chinese. She lives in Paris.

The Ruined Elegance: Poems is available from Princeton University Press and independent booksellers.

5159SYcAF2L._SX373_BO1,204,203,200_Whether in praise songs, appraisals, or meditations, the poems of Boy with Thorn embody an ardent grace . . . The result is an extraordinary and ultimately irreducible debut. —Terrance Hayes, judge

Rickey Laurentiis has released his latest collection, Boy with Thorn, winner of the 2014 Cave Canem Poetry Prize (University of Pittsburgh Press). Laurentiis’s work appeared in NER‘S Volume 36.2.

Laurentiis, a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, as well as fellowships from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Washington University in St. Louis. His poems appear or are forthcoming in Boston Review, Fence, Kenyon Review, New Republic, Poetry, and elsewhere. Born in New Orleans, he currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Boy with Thorn is available from the University of Pittsburgh Press and independent booksellers.

A superbly personal biography that pulsates with intelligence, scholarship, and heart. —Kirkus Review

NER is pleased to announce that founding editor Jay Parini’s Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 3.44.34 PMEmpire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal was recently published with Doubleday Books. Parini’s work, including “An Interview with Gore Vidal” (NER 14.1), has appeared in multiple NER issues.

Parini has published over two dozen books, including Benjamin’s CrossingThe Last Station, Robert Frost: A Life, and The Apprentice Lover. He is a winner of the Guggenheim Fellowship in 1993 and the John Ciardi Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. He has received honorary degrees from Lafayette College and the University of Scranton. Currently, Parini is the D. E. Axinn Professor of English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College.

Parini’s access to Vidal and his thoughtful reflections on him establish this as the definitive biography of a major writer. — Publisher’s Weekly. 

Empire of Self: A Life of Gore Vidal is available from Doubleday Books and independent booksellers.


Announcing NER 36.3

New Issue New AuthorsNew Website


NER Front Cover-363
Order Now!

 Three first-time-ever publications from new names in fiction.
Six new-to-NER authors in nonfiction.
Four new-to-NER poets.
And a brand new NER website 


New England Review 36.3







explores how the tiger hunt inspired an empire and decimated a species

URSUAL HEGI borrows from the present to imagine her way into the past

ROBERT HAHN hears the voice of Nick Carraway in the novels of our time

PAULA SCHWARTZ considers the strength and resilience of Fanny Dutet, Resistance fighter, Holocaust survivor, and friend

MAXIMILIAN VOLOSHIN‘s literary hijinks end in a duel
 (translated by Alex Cigale)

JOHN MILTON EDWARDS remembers the “fiction factory” in the days before the MFA

Jumping the Westbound Freighter with NER Poet Anders Carlson-Wee

NER Author Anders Carlson-Wee hops a train with his brother, poet Kai Carlson-Wee

RTH-Napa Film Fest copyRiding the Highline follows poet brothers Kai and Anders Carlson-Wee as they hop freight trains across the USA. Blending narrative scenes, poetry written by the brothers, and still photographs taken on the journey, this short documentary film is an official selection for the Napa Valley Film Festival.

New England Review author Anders Carlson-Wee is a 2015 NEA Creative Writing Fellow, 2015 Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Fellow, and the author of Dynamite, winner of the 2015 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. In addition to NER, his work has appeared in Missouri Review, Southern ReviewBest New Poets, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading series. Winner of Ninth Letter‘s Poetry Award and New Delta Review‘s Editors’ Choice Prize, he holds an MFA in poetry from Vanderbilt University. His poem “Shoalwater” appears in NER 36.1.

Kai Carlson-Wee’s work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Best New Poets, TriQuarterly, and Missouri Review, which selected a group of his poems for the 2013 Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize. He has received fellowships and awards from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg fund. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco, and is a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford University.

Travel with the brothers as they head west from Minnesota, www.ridingthehighline.com, and look for “Riding the Highline” on Facebook.



New Books from NER Authors

The fluidity with which Barot walks this difficult line between meaning and certainty makes these poems feel more born than made. This is a fantastic book.—Bob Hicok 

Rick Barot, poetry editor for New England Review since fall 2014, has recently published a new book of poetry, Chord (Sarabande Books).

“Barot demonstrates his mastery of image throughout this collection of meditative, personal poems in which language is a boat that ‘cuts the water, like scissors/into fabric.’ At his best, Barot seamlessly weaves history, image, and etymology in ways that offer the reader new eyes to see language and the world it describes.”            —Publishers Weekly

Barot has also published The Darker Fall (2002), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize, and Want (2008), a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and winner of the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize. His poems and essays have appeared in Poetry, Paris Review, New Republic, Ploughshares, Tin House, Kenyon Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Threepenny Review, and more.

Chord is available from Sarabande Books and independent booksellers.

Bayer tells a taut, gritty tale that gives a fresh and revealing insight into the Soviet Union of the Khrushchev years. —William Ryan, author of The Holy Thief, The Darkening Field, and The Twelfth Department.

410O1v-fdrL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Congratulations to Alexei Bayer on his new mystery novel, The Latchkey Murders, a prequel to the first novel in the series “Murder at the Dacha” (Russian Information Services, Inc). Bayer’s short stories have appeared in NER 19.426.1, and 31.2.

From the publisher: “A serial killer is on the loose in Khrushchev’s Moscow, rattling the foundations of the communist state (such anti-social crimes only occur in decadent bourgeois societies, after all). The victims are as pitifully innocent as the crimes are grievous . . .”

Bayer lives in New York and is a writer and translator in both English and Russian. His short fiction has been published in Kenyon ReviewChtenia, and New England Review.

The Latchkey Murders is available from Russian Life and independent booksellers.

The collection demonstrates Beattie’s craftsmanship, precise language, and her knack for revealing psychological truths.  —Publishers Weekly

UnknownNew England Review contributor Ann Beattie has published a new collection of short stories, The State We’re In: Maine Stories (Scribner). Beattie’s fiction appeared in NER‘s very first issue (1978).

“The 15 loosely connected stories in Beattie’s latest collection, set on Maine’s southern coast, feature drifting adults and their rootless offspring at seemingly unimportant moments that are in fact critical.”                 —Publishers Weekly

Beattie has received the PEN/Malamud Award and the Rea Award for her stories, and has been included in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century and four O. Henry Award collections. She is currently the Edgar Allan Poe Chair of the Department of English and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.

The State We’re In is available from Powell’s Books and independent booksellers.

For years Gregerson has been one of poetry’s mavens . . . whose poetics seek truth through the precise apprehension of the beautiful while never denying the importance of rationality  —Chicago Tribune

Unknown-1New England Review is pleased to announce the publication of Linda Gregerson‘s new collection of poetry, Prodigal (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Many of Gregerson’s poems have appeared in NER, most recently “Theseus Forgetting” in 31.4.

From the publisher: “Prodigal [ranges] broadly in subject from class in America to our world’s ravaged environment to the wonders of parenthood to the intersection of science and art to the passion of the Roman gods, and beyond . . . A brilliant stylist, known for her formal experiments as well as her perfected lines, Gregerson is a poet of great vision. Here, the growth of her art and the breadth of her interests offer a snapshot of a major poet’s intellect in the midst of her career.”

Linda Gregerson is the author of Waterborne, The Woman Who Died in Her Sleep, and Fire in the Conservatory. A recent Guggenheim Fellow, she teaches Renaissance literature and creative writing at the University of Michigan. Her poems have appeared in The Best American Poetry as well as in New England ReviewAtlantic Monthly, Poetry, PloughsharesYale Review, TriQuarterly, and other publications. Among her many awards and honors are an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature, four Pushcart Prizes, and a Kingsley Tufts Award.

Prodigal is available from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and from independent booksellers.

Binding together and moving through this delectable collection there’s a mystery, the one that makes you keep turning the pages . . . —Kathryn Davis, author of Duplex

Mitchell-ViralEmily Mitchell has published her new collection of stories, Viral (W. W. Norton).

From the publisher: “The characters in these stories find that the world they thought they knew has shifted and changed, become bizarre and disorienting, and, occasionally, miraculous. Told with absurdist humor and sweet sadness, Viral is about being lost in places that are supposed to feel like home.”

Mitchell’s stories have appeared in many magazines, including Harper’s and Ploughshares. Three of the stories from this collection first appeared in NER: “Lucille’s House” (28.2), “On Friendship” (31.3), and “Three Marriages” (34.2). She teaches at the University of Maryland.

Viral is available from Powell’s Books and independent booksellers.

NER Digital | Lauren Acampora


Clair de Lune | Lauren Acampora

Johan_Jongkind_-_Clair_de_lune_à_OverschieThese vibrant May mornings, the half-moon lingers low in the sky as if the night has forgotten to take it away. It’s pale and gentle behind a watery scrim, a sleek creature arching from the sea.

The moon, my father’s pale blue eyes during his last days. The lids wavered as he drifted in and out of morphine dreams, in and out of the wood-paneled room where we’d put the hospital bed, the dark paintings on the walls, the glow of the computer screen like something from another planet.

Through that computer, I played music for him. I believed that it could reach him whether he slept or woke—that it could occupy and calm him, wend through his consciousness with pattern and purpose, the things about life I felt unable to articulate myself. He would sleep, and I would sit with him, watching the drooping eyelids, the half-moons of blue drifting below.

He loved Chopin, but Debussy’s Clair De Lune was his favorite piece.

The third movement of Suite Bergamasque is arguably the most recognizable of Debussy’s work. It was inspired by Paul Verlaine’s poem of the same name, with lines such as:

Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres

With the still moonlight, sad and beautiful,
that sets the birds dreaming in the trees

Debussy’s musical rendering has a wandering, reluctant cadence that demands stillness, patience. The pause between notes is held just longer than expected, that additional moment containing a truth, an almost unbearable beauty that speaks of holding closely and letting go.

It’s as if the music is the moonlight—the sonic equivalent of that calm, wondering quiet.

It’s the moonlight on the streets of Venice in winter. My father, nineteen years old, AWOL from his post in Trieste in 1946, seeing the city for the first time. Walking the nearly deserted alleys in these days after the war, hearing only his own boot steps on the pavement.

It’s the peace of painting with my father in the basement, two bare light bulbs hanging over our heads. Breathing in the sweet, citrus smell of turpentine. Chiaro e scuro, he tells me. Make your darks dark and your lights light.

It’s the serenity amid the chaos in the lobby of the cancer hospital. A young man at a grand piano playing Clair de Lune beside a waterfall—a floor-to-ceiling slab of black granite with water rippling down its length, sheer and supple over the hard fact of mortality.

There is a flourish at one point in the piece, an ascension of notes like birds suddenly inspired toward flight, one after the other. Then, it’s back to the give-and-take of longing and resignation. Acceptance, and, finally, reverence.

After listening to Clair de Lune in that wood-paneled room, it has become an unending loop in my mind. But thinking of it now, I find that can’t remember the way it ends. The last notes escape me.


Lauren Acampora is the author of The Wonder Garden, a collection of linked stories (Grove Atlantic, 2015). Her short fiction has appeared in New England Review, as well as Paris Review, Missouri Review, Prairie Schooner, Antioch Review, and elsewhere.

Translation from the French courtesy of Chris Routledge.

NER Digital is New England Review’s online project dedicated to original creative writing for the web. “Confluences” presents writers’ encounters with works of art such as books, plays, poems, films, paintings, sculptures, or buildings. To submit an essay to our series, please read our guidelines.

NER Digital | Douglas J. Penick



"Help Yourself," John Frederick PetoIt is one of the small paintings he makes for the summer tourists who visit the seaside, or who are drawn to the tent revival services where he plays the cornet. It is already hot and muggy. He is finishing a picture that shows a crumpled paper bag on its side, spilling out pastel taffy, red and white peppermint sticks, divinity fudge, golden caramel squares, hard fruit candy. They pour out on a surface of black polished wood. They seem to float above their reflection

As a boy, he often went with his father to a store owned by a kindly widow who always gave him a piece of candy. When she turned her back, when his father also couldn’t see, he’d steal another piece or two, shoving them quickly into his pocket. He felt ashamed almost immediately. He is still ashamed. He cannot understand why he did it and did it often.

He looks at the picture. He is sweaty. His back burns with pain, but he is pleased. The miniature haphazard world of sweets is bathed in a silky silver light like that of Vermeer’s View of Delft. It is a veiled, silent seaside light where things may be themselves, isolated in their own secrets.


All around him was the night. Stars coursed silently in the depth of the sky. Below he could sense the dark fragrant cloud-forms of elms and maples. Scattered among them were a few windows still lit by sleepless watchers, readers nodding. Summer winds, scented with leaves and drying grass, moving across the stillness.

The dusty plank floor of the belfry creaked, just as it had when he stood there with his father long ago. The steeple below had a faint white glow. He remembered the excitement. The bands were arranged around the town, waiting for the sunrise. His father was tense and gleeful.

The sun rose, a shy pale red touched the treetops, the steeple was lit up, his father made the downbeat. Four bands in four parts of town began to play. A sudden brilliant gold brass, bright reed and rat-a-tat snare drum: not-quite-cacophony, brought all the atoms in the air to life.

2. It is in the night where, behind paler clouds, the ambient light of stars and moon appears and vanishes into a greater depth. It is from the depth and darkness that the subtle pulse emerges, a strengthening pulse that becomes a rhythm, deep and slow, subdividing into many rhythms, each beginning and sustained by many timbres, some thudding and almost inaudible, like the distant sea, some deep and round like iron being struck, or like the quick tapping of wood on stretched skin, a tree branch scraping a window pane, a man tapping his foot, thunder rumbling, a bell in the wind, an infinity of tempi like an infinity of colors and lights, all dwelling in the vast night and waiting to emerge, waiting but unhurried, ready to manifest into the brightness of day, pouring through the body’s veins as sound and bliss and elation and pain and heat. All the rhythms, coursing through the body, heart and soul, into full consciousness, as the immensity of harmony adored and sought and never, never, never final.

He knew that and never didn’t know it ever again. He found himself as an instrument, a lyre, a trumpet, a piano, a voice. He strained himself to the finest tunings, those most unimaginable tunings. The lilac clouds pervading night.

3. Now he was holding onto the banister and thumping down the stairs from his attic studio. She knew something was wrong, or different anyhow. He came into the dark paneled sitting room where she sat near the window, holding a book as if she were reading. When she looked up, she could see he was crying. Not sobbing, of course. He was too stoic for that. But tears were pouring down his cheeks, and he made odd hiccoughing sounds. In two hours he had aged a decade. He was an old man now. She waited. Finally he looked at her.

“It’s over.” The look of anguish was terrible, but she made herself stay still. Finally he came and took her hand. “I can’t do it anymore. It’s finished.”

He was a harp unstrung, a silence in the night.


Douglas Penick has written libretti for two operas, King Gesar (Sony CD) and Ashoka’s Dream (Santa Fe Opera), with composer Peter Lieberson. On a grant from the Witter Bynner Foundation, Penick wrote three book-length episodes from the Gesar of Ling epic (Crossings on a Bridge of LightWarrior Song of King Gesar, and The Brilliance of Naked Mind). He is also the author of the novel A Journey of The North Star (Publerati, 2012), as well as Dreamers and Their Shadows (Mountain Treasury Press, 2013). Penick’s short fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in Tricycle, Parabola, Porte Des Singes, Publishers Weekly, Agni, Descant, Chicago Quarterly, New England Quarterly, Kyoto Journal and elsewhere. He has written novels on the third Ming Emperor (Journey of the North Star), the adventures of spiritual seekers (Dreamers and Their Shadows) and, most recently, From the Empire of Fragments, a collection about cultural displacement.