My Daughter, Myself

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It has been a hard year, or so your new therapist likes to say, filling the silence in her small office, two padded chairs facing one another over a small table, after you’ve spilled some new petty frustration about the kids, your girlfriend, your life. She sips her water and peers over at you kindly.More

The Shiner

The Shiner

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When Kenny arrived home, his left eye was a river that never stopped streaming.More

The Burbidges in Grand Marais

The Burbidges in Grand Marais

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A custom polyvinyl chloride pool inflatable of Jesse McCartney was on its back in a white wicker chaise.More

No Windows

No Windows

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A delicacy to celebrate my sobriety is probably what the doctor would prescribe.More

Three Stories

Three Stories

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The risk. It’s just too much, he says, and this is where I got to draw the line.More

A Christmas Movement

A Christmas Movement

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The snow kept falling and we curled up tighter together as the days stayed dark. I held my daughters close and we laughed so hard our stomachs hurt.More

A Conversation

A Conversation

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Eugene and Carol sat on their sagging porch outside the house they bought when they were young and oblivious to the permanence of this flyover country. Their land was hard, but Carol, at least, remembered when it had been harder.More

Porkchop

Porkchop

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English teachers would draw steep mountains on the chalkboard and label them with nonsense such as “Rising Action,” “Climax,” and “Denouement,” a word he found unbearably pretentious. Life was nothing like that. Most people repeated the same tasks over and over day after day. They got up. They went to work. They came home. If a publisher wanted realism, that was as real as it gets. Life was more about cycles than linear, or even alpine, developments. And what was the climax of his average day? Lunch? More

Tackling Drills

Tackling Drills

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In Texas, football is a religion, with elaborate ritual and fanfare. I was scrawny in middle school; one of the shortest, skinniest and weakest kids in town, I still laced up the cleats each fall. If you happened to be good at the game, say a quarterback or running back with speed and agility (i.e.,More

Switchback

Switchback

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Even the sky didn’t want to be here. As Brandon and Tyler waited for more daylight to come down, piece by piece, they sat by an equally uninspired fire. The flames crackled in fits, reluctantly, but Tyler needed no assistance in the heat department. He was already fuming.More

Snowbanks

Snowbanks

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It was the year when many men of a certain age wore high-performance athletic vests to work when all they did was sit at a desk all day, and accented their salt-and-pepper goatees by wearing porkpie hats with small upturned brims. Usually they were going bald, and the hats, which they wore both outside andMore

American Woods

American Woods

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He didn’t know whether the men he killed did so as payment for a petty grievance; more likely it was something serious, and it wasn’t up to him to decide who was right. Why was not a question he ever asked.More

Meat Teeth

Meat Teeth

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He feels his arteries open. His heart starts to burn. The sensations drive him forward. He thinks about how the men probably laughed when they finally gouged the tusks out of the elephant’s face. Their laughter was probably high pitched. Maybe they even drank a beer to celebrate the carnage.More

It’s Always the Boyfriend

It’s Always the Boyfriend

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Any time a kid goes missing, if her mam’s got a boyfriend, they always reckon it was him done it. We all know better now, but back then the whole world was sure I was a child murderer.More

Alice Kaltman

Alice Kaltman

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As you might’ve heard, Jonathan Franzen’s back at it with his latest novel about suburban angst and ennui. Save your money. Buy Dawg Towne by Alice Kaltman instead.More

Dating

Dating

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When I was fifteen I slapped a state trooper and later that day my youth service counselor grabbed my arm so tight I had to listen. I needed to be like other girls, he said, even if I had to fake it.More

“The car had been through a reconstructed transmission, a busted carburetor, and was an absolute lush for Valvoline.” – Jordan Farmer, “Brothers”