NER Classics | The Fickle Gods | Robert Cohen

Robert Cohen’s “The Fickle Gods,” appeared in NER 21.4.

“Christ knew, she was in need of some grace today . . .”

580px-Michelangelo_Merisi_da_Caravaggio_-_St_Jerome_(detail)_-_WGA04159Though she was running almost ridiculously early for her doctor’s appointment that morning, Bonnie didn’t mind. She liked going to doctors. She had a pretty fair tolerance for dentists, accountants, and lawyers too. It was a professional age. She delivered herself with gratitude to their buzzing offices, sought out their informed opinions, their brisk, impersonal evaluations. They made her feel located; they made her feel known. After nine-odd years of graduate school—the last five spent crawling through the tunnel of her dissertation—people who not only talked about things but actually went around doing them were like evidence to her of some casual secular miracle. In their presence she became calm and penitent, open to the ministrations of grace.

Christ knew, she was in need of some grace today. In addition to her usual strenuous bout of pre-dawn vomiting, there had been at breakfast a rather nasty and gratuitous argument with her kids which had left her utterly depleted. It was almost as if they knew what was up. But how could they? She herself didn’t know. Not officially. Not clinically. Which was why she had made her appointment with Dr. Siraj.

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New England Review in Boston

AWP logoMarch 6 through March 9

8:30 am. to 6 p.m.
AWP Book Fair
New England Review, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Bread Loaf School of English, New England Young Writers’ Conference, Middlebury College Program in Creative Writing: Tables C5-C7
(for AWP conference registrants; free to the public Saturday, March 9)

Friday, March 8: 9:00–10:15 a.m.
New England Review Celebrates Vermont Writers:
Kellam Ayres, Robert Cohen, Castle Freeman Jr., Sydney Lea, Cleopatra Mathis
Vermont is home to more writers per capita than any other state in the nation, and Vermont authors work in a wide variety of aesthetics and styles—some with no particular ties to place and others decidedly rooted. Founded in 1978, New England Review publishes authors from all over the world, but in this reading, we’re proud to present five outstanding writers who live and work in our home state, and whose writing has recently appeared in our pages.
Hynes Convention Center, Room 303
(for AWP conference registrants only)

Saturday, March 9, 3 p.m.
The Teaching Press: Literary Magazines and Learning. (Travis Kurowski, Jay Baron Nicorvo, Carolyn Kuebler, Ben George, Jodee Stanley) Editors from leading literary magazines New England Review, Ecotone, Ninth Letter, and Third Coast discuss the educational benefits of literary magazines on today’s campuses. Topics will include the teaching press, experiential learning environments, learning-based outcomes, and how campus literary magazines are changing 21st-century publishing.
(for AWP conference registrants only)
Hynes Convention Center, Room 313

Robert Cohen Reading at Bread Loaf

Robert Cohen reads a short story at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference on August 14, 2010.

“Our Time with the Pirates”

“Our Time with the Pirates”

To listen to the entire reading, or to other readings and lectures from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, visit their iTunesU site.

Robert Cohen is the author of Amateur Barbarians, as well as three previous novels, The Organ Builder, The Here and Now, and Inspired Sleep, and a collection of short stories. Winner of a Lila Acheston Wallace Reader’s Digest Writers Award, the Ribalow Prize, the Pushcart Prize, and a Whiting Award, he has published short fiction in a variety of publications–including Harpers, GQ, The Paris Review and Ploughshares. He has taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, Harvard University, and Middlebury College. He lives in Vermont.

NER Community | Eleanor Henderson on Robert Cohen

At NPR Books, Eleanor Henderson talks about the influence of Middlebury professor Robert Cohen:

As an undergrad at Middlebury, I was one of the many students who hung on Cohen’s every word in class, but I suspect I was the only one to hunt down every word he’d written — ordering back issues of Story, Glimmer Train and New England Review, smuggling them hungrily into my dorm room like the desserts I’d sneak from the dining hall.

I read his stories again and again, then swallowed them whole when, to my delight, they were released in book form, and later I taught them to my own students.

Henderson’s novel Ten Thousand Saints was named a Notable Book and one of the 10 Best Books of 2011 by The New York Times. Cohen’s story, “The Next Big Thing,” originally appeared in NER (19.2).