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New fiction from Kristien Hemmerechts in NER 35.3

Categories: Fiction

Fairytale | Kristien Hemmerechts

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Once upon a time a man and a woman had a child who lived. Then they had another child and it died, and then another child and that child also died. The first child was a little girl, the second and third were boys. The children were named Katherine, Benjamin, and Robert, but their names were mostly shortened to Kathy, Ben, and Rob. After the death of the third child, the man and the woman chose not to have another child but instead to have a dog that their young daughter christened Lady. The man took pictures of his wife, his daughter, and his dog and then asked his wife to take a picture of himself. The photos were developed and put in the photo album. “Finally, we are four!” the woman wrote beside it, but barely three years later, she left the man and thus, indirectly, her daughter and dog as well. . .

—translated from the Dutch by Margie Franzen and Sandra Boersma

Read the complete story here [view as PDF]

 

 

Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others | Lou Mathews

Categories: Fiction

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No man knows his apotheosis. Carl Jung said that. No man knows his apotheosis, but I know mine. That particular deal went down in the scrubby jungle outside of Rivas. This was in Nicaragua, in 1987. I can tell you the day and even the hour. April 22, 1:00 p.m., the high point of my life. At noon that day, the producers fired Alec Litwer-Bowen as director. Alec had recommended a two-million-dollar line of credit, to be spent in-country, which made sense. The US Embargo made the usual studio transactions impossible. When Alec arrived in Nicaragua, he handed a million dollars over to the Sandinista government. It would have been a bargain; government support in the form of reliable cars, trucks, gasoline, construction equipment, soldiers, helicopters, boats, soldiers, extras, and rare goods like plywood and other necessities for sets would be worth well beyond that sum. The bonding company, which should never have known about this transaction, got squeezed by the Reagan administration and demanded that the producers shut the movie or fire Alec. They fired Alec, at least that is what we assumed. Alec had disappeared and the studio publicists began cranking up the creative-differences-agree-to-disagree machine. It was quite a concert back in LA; the rumor machine began a bass murmur of overdoses and breakdowns while contracts and legal whistled moral turpitude. Meantime, the studio tried to recruit an A, B, or even C-list director. No one would touch it; the bad juju taint was out on this one. I was right place, right time. I was the writer, I was second-unit assistant director, I’d made a short, I spoke Spanish. Mostly, I was there. They handed me the swagger stick, the metaphorical pith helmet and megaphone. Traditionally, a transition like this would be noted by a newly stenciled parking space and a folding chair with my name on the back: Dale Davis, Director.

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New Fiction from Sands Hall in NER 35.2

Categories: Fiction

Theim’s Wingéd Chariot | Sands Hall

The_Flower_Book_-_Love_in_a_Mist

Just as Dafne finished her rousing—if she said so herself—lecture about the limited choices for women in nineteenth-century America, much less Britain, and had called on the dependable Serena for a response, the door to her classroom nudged open. And there, peering around the doorjamb, was Edward! Dafne’s heart lurched like an old car. The whole of Friday night tumbled at her, an Atlantic wave full of force and silt guaranteed to knock her over the fence and into the moon. “Professor Hartman!” she said. That horrid betraying flush was, she knew, making her face look as if she’d been in a boiler room shoveling coal. Edward nodded, pushed open the door the rest of the way, and tiptoed, elaborately, to the nearest available chair.[read more]

New Steven Heighton Fiction From the New NER—Vol. 35, No 1

Categories: Fiction

Shared Room On Union | Steven Heighton

 

keys-707275-mThey were parked on Union, in front of her place, their knees locked in conference around the stick shift, Janna and Justin talking, necking a little, the windows just beginning to steam. We’d better stop, she said. I should go now. It was 1:00 a.m., a Thursday night turned Friday morning. Squads of drunken students were on the town. So far nobody had passed the car. Hey, take it to a Travelodge, man! Nights like this, that sort of thing could happen—one time a rigid hand had rammed the hood, another time someone had smacked the passenger window a foot from her ear, Justin’s fingers in her hair stopping dead.

I won’t miss this part, he told her.

I really should go, Jus.

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Carrying the Torch | Brock Clarke

Categories: Fiction, NER Classics

 

Brock Clarke’s story “Carrying the Torch” appeared in NER 21.1:

450px-Gersdorff_p21vI decided last night that someday soon I am going to rip my husband’s penis off with my bare hands. I plan to do it while he’s sleeping. I will make sure that I am wearing my running shorts and sneakers, and after I have done the deed, I will jog at a good clip around my neighborhood, holding the bloody thing above my head and a little in front of me like a torch. The summer Olympics started yesterday, and I was in the crowd as Rafer Johnson ran through Atlanta with the real torch, which is how I got my idea.

“Who exactly is Rafer Johnson?” I asked my husband, Till, yesterday. Till is an executive with Microsoft’s Atlanta division, and he’s also on the Olympic organizing committee, which is how we managed to stand right up front while this large, fit black man ran down Peachtree with Nike written all over his mesh tank top and nylon jogging shorts.

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NER CLASSICS | A French Love Affair | Gwen Strauss

Categories: Fiction, NER Classics

Gwen Strauss’s essay, “A French Love Affair,” appeared in NER 21.2.

We live on a converted barge, a houseboat, on a canal,
on the eastern edge of Burgundy almost in the Jura mountains . . . 800px-Paul_Klee,_Swiss_-_Glance_of_a_Landscape_-_Google_Art_Project

We live on a converted barge, a houseboat, on a canal, on the eastern edge of Burgundy almost in the Jura mountains, next to Switzerland. Driving to the closest town in our new, very old 1952 Peugeot 203 takes about fifteen minutes. Of course, in a newer car you’d get there faster—and I wonder, would the town seem more modern? Because when I’m in our car, I notice again that our village is full of old people, that the French countryside has been abandoned by the younger generations. When I pull into the gas station, or into the market place, inevitably an old French man will come running out of the nearby café. With pastis on his breath he’ll exclaim, “C’est ma jeunesse!” Then he will moon over the dashboard. It’s the same, the very same as the one he had as a young man! There will follow some discussion, mixed with patriotic disbelief, about how I, as a youngish American woman, got possession of this car. How could that be? they ask. I want to answer: by sheer pathological stupidité. But I just smile and shrug my shoulders and sigh a lot, “C’est comme ça.”

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NER CLASSICS | Not Renata | Dwight Allen

Categories: Fiction, NER Classics

. . . he’d come into my head, unbidden, unconjured,
the way long-ago boyfriends will do . . .

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Dwight Allen’s story, “Not Renata,” appeared in NER 21.2.

Now and then, he’d come into my head, unbidden, unconjured, the way long-ago boyfriends will do, if you aren’t careful. I’d be chewing on my pencil or a fingernail, say, or looking at the blue California sky while pumping gas into my car, and there he’d be, lying on a three-legged, rummage-sale couch in our graduate school apartment of twenty years before. (The fourth leg was a cookbook my mother had given me. “Hope this will inspire you,” she said.) In this picture he’s as still as a painter’s model, cigarette smoke veiling him like stage fog. I peer at him, this secretive, cowardly boy I once loved, and then the picture dissolves and I’m inhaling gasoline fumes or listening to Mrs. Ramirez or Mr. Kuhn or someone else at the senior center tell me a story. I work with the elderly. With the crabby and unpopular Mr. Kuhn, I sometimes play checkers, waiting for the moment he says “King me!” and stirs me from my daydreams. The last time my former boyfriend appeared before me, I was in the dentist’s chair.

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Studies in Composition | Leslie Bazzett

Categories: Fiction

A first look at NER Vol. 34 Nos. 3–4

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1355569The chapel bells had begun, calling the boys to dinner. From the kitchen veranda Davis watched them shambling through late-summer heat, khaki shorts slung low, loafers mashed at the heels, laughing or occasionally tossing overgrown bangs to the side. In a few minutes the day seemed to have swollen. There was a heavy smell of frying. In the distance the rolling pastures greened and damped, grown dark as moss. The farthest was dotted with horses—the boarding school a working farm also, these hundred years since its founding. Unseen was a river; a dappled wood where on weekends the boys were allowed to hunt, its leafy harbor suggesting other things to Davis. He was an imaginative boy. Handsome and mildly disdainful. When headmaster Givens passed, Davis merely nodded, refraining from the “sir” other boys would have offered.

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Lifeless Beast | Teffi

Categories: Fiction

From our current issue, 34–3.4
This story will appear in
Subtly Worded and Other Stories, translated by Anne Marie Jackson, Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, and others, to be published by Pushkin Press
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Тэффи1

Teffi (1872–1952)

The Christmas party was fun. There were crowds of guests, big and small. There was even one boy who had been flogged that
day—so Katya’s nanny told her in a whisper. This was so intriguing that Katya barely left the boy’s side all evening; she kept thinking he would say something special, and she watched him with respect and even fear. But the flogged boy behaved in the most ordinary manner; he kept begging for gingerbread, blowing a toy trumpet, and pulling crackers. In the end, bitter though this was for her, Katya had to admit defeat and move away from the boy.

The evening was already drawing to a close, and the very smallest, loudly howling children were being got ready to go home, when Katya was given her main present—a large woolly ram. He was all soft, with a long, meek face and eyes that were quite human. He smelt of sour wool, and if you pulled his head down he bleated affectionately and persistently: “Ba-a-a!”

Katya was so struck by the ram, by the way he looked, smelt, and talked, that she even, to ease her conscience, asked, “Mama, are you sure he’s not alive?” Her mother turned her little birdlike face away and said nothing; she had long ago stopped answering Katya’s questions, she never had time. Katya sighed and went to the dining room to give the ram some milk. She stuck the ram’s face right into the milk jug, wetting it right up to the eyes. Then a young lady she didn’t know came up to her, shaking her head: “Oh, dearie me, what are you doing? Really, giving living milk to a creature that isn’t alive! It’ll be the end of him. You need to give him pretend milk. Like this.”

She scooped up some air in an empty cup, held it to the ram’s mouth, and smacked her lips. “See?”

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This story will appear in Subtly Worded and Other Stories, translated by Anne Marie Jackson, Robert and Elizabeth Chandler, and others, to be published by Pushkin Press (2014). 

“Well, what do you expect with a name like that?” | Eric Darton

Categories: Fiction, NER Classics

Eric Darton’s story, “Certain Amazing Adventures of Mr. Hoel” appeared in NER 22.2:

798px-Joseph_Mallord_William_Turner_(British_-_Van_Tromp,_Going_About_to_Please_His_Masters_-_Google_Art_ProjectWell, what do you expect with a name like that? Call him Lars, call him Claes, call him Cowerie, Pure Act, Oecumene, or Segundo Punt. Or Mignon the vinegar- swill. He don’t mind. Hoel knows what’s his.

Now let me draw you back to Hoel’s naissance in the city with the second tallest spires and the vast majority of cows. Let us meander along the rutted bywaysof his colonial youth, and, at length—the salt scent bursting in wafts more pronounced—out onto the corniche where no matter how implacable the drubbing blows of Brother Sun, Hoel could always ride his bicycle a meter in from the seawall, for it was there that the breakers delivered up their tenderest after-orgasms of cooling foam. Then lean the cycle in the shaded L where tower and wall abut and up the spiralsteps of the citadel, proof too from sun-fire by virtue of its inconceivable thickness, and peer through the topmost slit, out over the star defenses, beyond the breakers with their toppled columns rolling nowhere but to and fro, and parts of ships and men dashed everywhere among them.

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