Announcing NER 36.3

New Issue New AuthorsNew Website


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 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,, 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.

NER Emerging Writer Award Winner—Dr. Ricardo Nuila Takes the TEDx Stage

Ricardo NuilaWe’ve learned that The New England Review/Bread Loaf Scholarship recipient for 2015, emerging writer Dr. Ricardo Nuila, has spent a little time on the TEDx stage, telling his stories out loud.

“My first thought was, wait, someone else must be a doctor . . . how might I explain myself to the flight attendant? ‘Excuse me kind m’am,’ I’d say, ‘I literally became a doctor yesterday. What this means is, I don’t know what I’m doing . . . if you want to know the truth, I’m done with medicine. I’m off to become a writer.’”

Listen to Ricardo Nuila tell his TEDx story here, from the stage at Rice University

Dr. Ricardo Nuila is an assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, where he works as a hospitalist at Ben Taub General Hospital and teaches internal medicine and classes on the intersection of medicine and the humanities to both residents and medical students. His essays have been published in numerous prestigious medical journals including The New England Journal of Medicine. Additionally, Dr. Nuila is an accomplished fiction writer who has been published in New England Review, McSweeney’s, Ninth Letter, and Indiana Review, among others.

Winner of the inaugural NER Award for Emerging Writers, Dr. Nuila will attend the 2015 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference this summer on the first annual NER/Bread Loaf scholarship.

Announcing NER 36.2

With its focus on China, NER 36.2 brings us up close to an old, new world of art and history, nature and poetry. Also in this issue, we traverse our own country from the Atlantic to the Pacific with authors as they remember collective pasts, brave their own presents, and escort the most foreign of foreigners from our halls of ivy to our backroads theaters. The new issue of NER has just shipped from the printer and a preview is available on our website. Order a print or digital copy today!


Kazim Ali • David Baker • Christopher Bakken • Joshua Bennett • Bruce Bond • Luisa A. Igloria • Vandana Khanna • Rickey Laurentiis • Katrina Roberts • Ed Skoog • Xiao Kaiyu (translated by Christopher Lukpe) • Ya Shi (translated by Nick Admussen) • Yin Lichuan (translated by Fiona Sze-Lorrain)


Steve De Jarnatt • Joann Kobin • Carla Panciera • Sharon Solwitz • Michael X. Wang.


Wei An’s ruminations on nature just north of Beijing (translated by Thomas Moran)
Wendy Willis on Ai Weiwei’s blockbuster show at Alcatraz
Marianne Boruch discovers the diagnostic value of poetry
• Interpreter Eric Wilson relives the encounters of a Faeroese poet with American activists, academics, and alcohol
• James Naremore considers the considerable Orson Welles at 100, looking beyond Citizen Kane
• Jeff Staiger makes a case for how The Pale King was to have trumped Infinite Jest
• Camille T. Dungy is more than welcomed to Presque Isle as she finds herself in Maine’s early history
• “The Gloomy Dean” William Ralph Inge revisits Rome under the Caesars

Order a copy in print or digital formats for all devices.


Best American Series Gives Three Cheers to NER

11164839_697846580326266_7587790925888781084_nWe are thrilled to share the news—Best American has chosen three pieces from New England Review, in a range of genres, for publication in the forthcoming 2015 series.

We congratulate Laura Lee Smith for “Unsafe at Any Speed,” chosen for Best American Short Stories, Steven Heighton for “Shared Room on Union,” slated for Best American Mysteries, and Kate Lebo for “The Loudproof Room,” which will appear in Best American Essays.