online magazine for short, good writing

Month: May, 2014

5 Phenomenal European Books in Translation

by a contributor

from Jason Newport, author of Because the Brick:

These five books offer a brief but fascinating introduction to some of the finest European works in translation of the past two years.

  1. Trieste (2014) by Dasa Drndic

    Although comparisons to Sebald may be exaggerated, Drndic memorably blurs the line between terrifying historical fact and haunting fiction in Trieste.

  2. Seiobo There Below (2013) by László Krasznahorkai

    Winner of the Best Translated Book Award for 2014, Seiobo There Below offers a breathtaking contemplation of the human experience of art across the world and through the millennia.

  3. Karate Chop (2014) by Dorthe Nors

    Short, good fiction.

  4. Europe in Sepia (2014) by Dubravka Ugresic

    The fierce, brilliant critic of Karaoke Culture returns with a vengeance in Europe in Sepia, a painfully funny exposé of the nostalgic West in decline and its increasingly endangered species of conscientious authors.

  5. City of Angels, or the Overcoat of Dr. Freud (2013) by Christa Wolf

    In City of Angels, Wolf’s posthumous autobiographical novel, one of Europe’s great Late Modernists explores what it means to be a writer whose national identity is defunct and whose personal memory turns out to be suspect.

  6. Other great recent translations of European books to look for include works by Javier Marías (The Infatuations, 2013), W. G. Sebald (A Place in the Country, 2013), and Enrique Vila‑Matas (Dublinesque, 2012).

    Jason Newport is currently at work on a novel about Hungarian Roma in the Holocaust.

Because the Brick

by a contributor

Jason Newport

Because the Brick. Because the ice machine was acting up. Because it was still early and the place was dead, except for Leroy Jackson in his customary spot at the end of the bar. Because old Leroy would sit there with his newspaper spread out and two sips left in the bottom of his glass and tell anyone who happened to come in off the street just to set a spell and wait, because O’Malley would be back in a jiffy with a couple of bags of ice from the corner store. Because who would need a drink so bad at that hour that they couldn’t set a spell and wait a little bit for it? Because the ceiling fans and window blinds kept everything cool and shady in O’Malley’s place, that was for sure, and it was nice just to come in out of the hot sun and set yourself down at the bar for a bit, take a load off. Because you wouldn’t have to wait but a few minutes. Because it was just the ice machine acting up again. Because O’Malley wouldn’t pay to have anybody fix anything that he could usually take care of himself, like the side door that wouldn’t stop banging shut in the cross breeze, that was just as easy to prop open with a brick from the alleyway. Because who in their right mind would go so far for a few lousy dollars? Because what kind of fool couldn’t get a cash register open without smashing it all to hell? Because old Leroy couldn’t hardly swat a fly, but he might could tell what some crazy fool looked like. Because he was in his customary spot on a hot afternoon. Because the brick was at hand, and O’Malley was not. Because the newspapers couldn’t soak up all the blood.

Jason Newport received an MFA in creative writing (fiction) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington. His nonfiction has most recently appeared on, and his short fiction and poetry have appeared in many fine journals. He is an English instructor in the Southwestern College Professional Studies program and a contributing editor for the Chautauqua journal.

See Jasons’s list of 5 Things You Should Read tomorrow  in our ongoing contributors’ series.

Five faces I made at my audition yesterday

by a contributor

from Asha Dore, author of How to Choose a Name:

  1. BEAM

    I love you like you’re standing on a broken boardwalk, silhouetted against sunset, some beach dream. A seagull yawning. A shoreline skirling. A hurricane coming, clouds like grey bulbs rolling across the sky.


    Hey there sugarpie, sweetpea, honeybear. Right over here, baby. Let me be your strawberry. Let me see your sweet face. Come a little closer. Look a little harder. Hold onto my eyes. I’ll be your petal, your candy, yours. Closer, closer, closer.

  3. GASP

    Whose voice told me my grandma died, my dad died, my baby died? Was it yours? Where is that voice? If I could touch that voice, I could reach past the moment it happened to touch the person I was right before. Who was that person? She is gone. I just realized she is gone. Where did you put her?

  4. ROAR

    Mouth so wide an alligator could crawl out of it. Teeth, teeth, giant teeth.  Ready to gobble you up. Ready to swallow the whole neighborhood, the supermarket, the mall. Groan on the edge of laughing. Laugh on the edge of fury. Ready and hungry and almost.

  5. PEACE

    You are disappearing. I am disappearing. It’s okay to disappear. I love you. Goodnight.

How to Choose a Name

by a contributor

Asha Dore

Make a list. Say them quiet, loud, laughing, angry. List the initials. Find patterns. Find problems. Find rhymes. Look at the history. Separate syllables. Leave them alive in your mouth, repeating until the sounds become song.

This is a gift.

My mother did not leave anyone out, so I was given six names at birth. I learned them when I was five and repeated them to quiet my mind. Mantra of self. Mantra of fathers. Asha Dore Jennings Stewart Bradley Baisden. A-D-J-S-B-B, A-D-J-S-B-B.

Asha – life.
Dore – gold.
Jennings – maternal grandmother’s father.
Stewart – maternal grandfather’s father.
Bradley – paternal grandmother’s father.
Baisden – father.

When my daughters were born, my husband and I had to decide. Whose father, or none. My husband and I changed our names. He dropped his father’s name. I dropped my father’s name. The name my mother chose for me – Dore. The name my husband’s mother chose for herself, his stepfather’s name – Lickley. Lickley-Dore. My daughters are just Dore, just gold.


Can a single word be a person? One name. People I meet tell me the stories of mine. Asha. In Hindi, it means to expect, expectation. In Malayalam it means hope. In Swahili it means life. In Sanskrit it means desire. Asha is a Zorastrian principle that means something like the best truth.

Expect hope, life, desire the best truth.

The history of a word is etymology. Gold going backward is gold, gold, gold, goud, gull. Simple history – colorbird, a traveling glow.

Mother was modor, modar, moder, mutter, mater, mote, mathir, matris and etymologists believe it all began with a baby saying ma.

Matris like matrix – something from which another is born, the main clause, the womb. What cloud keeps names along father when it is mothers naming mothers? The history of a name, a colorbird up from the womb flesh. Every mother is an origin. Desire the best truth.

Three daughters: Silent bird, my first, stillborn. Rough music of the second born alive and wild.
Retched breath of the third, born on the day my first was due four years later, living.

Ofelia, the quiet one. Help her, innocence gone mad. Asleep in water. Death before birth.

Leisl, the loud, the living. The Sound of Music. Music of the name. Lees-elle. Lithe as a lion on my tongue. Music of the body, music of the girl.

Margot the soft, strong. Pearl of my flesh, the one who waited. I am shell, she is soul. Soft glow. Margot.

When I write, which words should shape me? Asha Baisden? Asha Dore? Just Asha? Should I name myself, act as my own child, or remain, caught in the matrix of the named: Still mother’s. Still father’s. Still a body fresh to the storm. Still a child unwrapping.

Asha Dore’s essays and stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Sweet, Stirring, theNewerYork, The Rumpus, and Best of the Net. Asha lives in Oregon with her husband and two daughters where she is working on a novel about a hurricane.

Five Times I Felt Awesome But Was Wrong

by a contributor

from Rebecca Schwab, author of Dear Ms. Bradigan:

  1. Summer 1987, when my mother and sister convinced me that monkey bars weren’t that hard to master, and I believed them, for a minute. I started with both hands on the first rung, then trusted my right hand with all of my body weight and swung to the second. My left fingers made contact and curled around the bar. Dangling, my feet bicycle-peddled the air. I can do this, I thought. I bit my bottom lip and mustered my puny strength. I swung again, reached for the third rung, and fell. Flat on my back, my right arm was pinned beneath me. I’d heard the brittle snapping sound, but it took a moment for the pain to register. I spent the summer in a cast, trying hard to draw birds with my left hand, but they always looked deformed, and too much like dinosaurs.
  2. January 2002, at Georgia State University in a communications class. During the second class of the semester, our teacher insisted we play an ice-breaker game. We stood in a circle, and each person had to say the name of every person who went previously, and then his or her own, so the first person selected only had to know his or her own name, and the last person had to recite twenty-two names. The seventh person in this order was a girl named Vigante (pronounced vuh-JON-tee). All the other students—the other savvy, smart, socially not-awkward students—stopped when they reached her, acting like they couldn’t pronounce her name, making her say it FOR them again and again. Her voice got quieter each time, and she looked at the floor. Well, I wasn’t going to put her through that.I mean, all I had to do was not accidentally say “Vagina.” I went around the circle, index finger wagging from student to student like a 60s-era back-up singer: “Doug, Sharon, Melissa, Tyler, Erin, Aaron, Vagina—” I froze, finger mid-point, horrified. My hands flew to my mouth, like they could keep it from doing further damage. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry!” I shouted.  Vigante kept her head down and whispered “It’s okay.” Of course, it wasn’t. I sat in the back for the rest of the semester. Vigante never came back to class.
  3. May, 1993, when I called the boy I liked and “asked him out.” He said yes, but dumped me two days later. He’d only agreed in the first place because my mother was dead.
  4. Spring 1986, when a box of hand-me-downs from someone at church contained a pink-and-white striped one-piece jumpsuit AND a pair of red dress shoes. I immediately put on this winning outfit and tap-danced in the driveway, feeling like the ideal combination of princess and pop star.  After only two sets of tappety-tap-tap-spin-jazz hands, though, my stomach gurgled a loud warning. I ran inside to the bathroom, but the complexity of quickly removing a one-piece jumpsuit proved too much for my chubby fingers. Neither princesses nor pop stars pooped their pants, not even in emergency situations, and the jumpsuit was ruined.
  5. Winter, 2000, at a house party one town over, when a stranger accused my friend of burning her “titty” with a cigarette. The stranger tried sucker-punching my friend, but I blocked the attack with a cat-like karate move. I’d been taking lessons for four months; I already had a yellow stripe on my belt. The stranger turned on me, but I hit her twice in the face and my first-ever-and-only fight was over. She left. I got high-fived. That girl came back with friends. Someone had a gun. We escaped by jumping out of a small bathroom window, leaving our coats behind, hiding in back yards until we could circle back to the car. Also, the party was themed: Hawaiian luau. We wore bikinis and grass skirts. We live near Buffalo.

Dear Ms. Bradigan

by a contributor

Rebecca Schwab

Dear Ms. Bradigan,

It’s not that your efforts went unnoticed—the “private” journal only you would read, the soulful “Are-you-okays,” the invitations to visit the school counselor.

It’s that I was ten, or not quite, and my mother had just died, and I felt flayed open, peeled flesh exposed to stinging wind, and even before that, before I was half-orphaned, I was an introverted child.

When you insisted I see the counselor—because swallowed sadness hurts, you said—I talked about my yellow parakeet, who would later get cancer and be put to sleep by my older brother with a pillowcase and an exhaust pipe, which is not at all how my mother died, and for which I was at least prepared, though I loved the bird too, a little, which is why when that tumor grew on his face and he could no longer eat, I said “Do it” without stuttering or regretting the words.

I did not talk to the counselor about the parakeet as a substitute mother, or of you as a substitute mother, or whatever you had hoped I’d say. I did not call myself the parakeet’s mother, or it my baby, because, Ms. Bradigan, it was a parakeet, and because I didn’t understand, I could not measure, I’d not yet tossed a stone into the yawning black hole my dead mother left; I did not know that for the rest of my life I would throw parakeets and miniskirts and seven-dollar bottles of wine into it, never to hear anything bounce off a damp-sounding rock face or hit hard on a silty bottom.

I was not ungrateful then because I didn’t understand gratitude, but would not have thanked you if I did, or not sincerely, because sometimes when you see a potato bug curled into a ball you should just leave it there, let it take comfort in its protective roundness, or, if you must interfere, Ms. Bradigan, pull a curtain of lush green grass away from a stone step and drop the gray ball into the deep, loamy recess where it will be safe from crushing boot heels and predators’ beaks and too many questions about its feelings, which, at that point, Ms. Bradigan, it had not known how to articulate.

All my sincerity,
Rebecca Schwab

Rebecca Schwab writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Her work has appeared in Fringe and The Future Fire, and is forthcoming in Brevity and Slipstream. She serves as acquisitions editor for Leapfrog Press and Crossborder: A Journal of Fiction (Leapfrog Press and Guernica Editions, Canada); teaches creative writing at SUNY Fredonia; and contributes regularly to The Observer.