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Fiction Pick of the Week: "Black Doom of Options"

An eviction notice causes a grotesque chain of events.

"Imogene grunted as she lifted the sledgehammer and again brought it down. She missed the knob and graced the door, taking some of the siding off it. She bent down and thrust the hammer at the spot. The wood gave away."

Thursday, July 16

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "Public Debt"

David Hosack attends to a mortally wounded Alexander Hamilton.

"Hosack felt a hitching panic build, his instincts wound too tightly, overtaxed, a clockwork spring about to snap. Only Hamilton could do this to him. The frame prone before him was frail, narrow, woman-small. His coat, waistcoat, shirt, underclothes sopping him up, holding him together. Delicate embroidery sodden, delicate fingers cold with the loss of blood. Hosack had seen this man’s blood before, and the blood and vomit and delirious fever-dreams of his wife, his children. But this was—Hosack sickened, the scene before him tilting. Three years before—Hamilton’s son, Phillip, bleeding out after his own duel on the same Weehawken site. Their faces so alike, their mangled bodies. Their right sides."

Thursday, July 9

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "Stick Shift"

A girl's interaction before her Coming Out dance.

"I had no idea about myself, whether I was pretty or different or what. That I had not yet attracted a boyfriend was a failure that weighed on my mind. If I was pretty, I figured, I would have one already. But if I was different, a fresh idea for me, that would explain the problem, for I thought that boys didn’t like girls who weren’t the same as every other girl they knew. I didn’t play varsity sports and look like it, and I wasn’t fey, I didn’t play an instrument or go in for the arts. I was smart, though. “Boys are intimidated by your intellect,” my married sister once told me, meaning it as a compliment. But I didn’t act nearly as smart as I was, so I couldn’t believe that was true."

Thursday, July 2

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "Making Love"

A convergence of sex, fears, and family drama.

"Beside the bed the baby monitor flashed, as it had been doing all night, a blue light racing up and down to accompany the sounds: breathing, snoring, faint clicking, the mewl of one or another of the cats. If Angela held it to her ear she would also hear the ticking of the mantel clock. These new monitors! So much more sophisticated than those of yore. Nineteen years ago, when last she’d tuned into one, the monitor would occasionally pick up the cell phone call of some stranger in a passing car, some weird adult voice suddenly blaring from the baby’s room."

Thursday, June 25

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "Delivery"

A pizza deliverer/calculus whiz becomes involved in the lives of two unstable college students.

"I licked my thumb, outside, by the car, and ran it over the suction cups, before I slapped the marquee to the top of my cobalt blue Toyota. The pizzas were already sitting in the passenger seat, cardboard mouths smiling. I was conscious, despite Walter’s assertion, that I was operating under the tick of a clock, an invisible, indefinite deadline. Really, we all are. But no one realizes how soon it’s coming."

Thursday, June 18

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "The Republic of Bad Taste"

Secrets, dangers, and murder in a German police state.

"Andreas didn’t know what to say. What he wanted was for her to come and live in the basement of the rectory with him. He could protect her, home-school her, practice English with her, train her as a counsellor for at-risk youth, and be her friend, the way King Lear imagined being friends with Cordelia, following the news of the court from a distance, laughing at who was in, who was out. Maybe in time they’d be a couple, the couple in the basement, leading their own private life."

Thursday, June 11

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "Fort"

Troubles and afflictions weigh on counselors and veterans.

"The Fort was actually just an ugly house. Eighteen rooms, two stories. A kitchen, a lavatory, a staircase. One office, one entrance, two exits, thirty-six bunks, four televisions, the mini-library, two footballs, one fútbol, a basketball, and the whole of Big Ben, the biggest backyard in Texas. It housed between twenty-one and thirty-two bodies a year. Most of them stayed a couple months. They found us through each other."

Thursday, June 4

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "Enzo Ponza"

A girl kidnaps a mysterious figure.

"What has he spared me, this Enzo Ponza? What, with his constant presence, has he prevented happening in my life, and what, if anything, has he caused to happen? Does he care for me, my mother, my children? Is he escaping something, or is he just biding his time? Why has he never once asked to leave? And why did I never investigate whether he had any living relatives to whom I could send a ransom note?"

Thursday, May 28

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "Other Gods"

A tornado causes physical and psychological turmoil in a religious community.

"The next morning, I ran through the streets in my pajamas, screaming for somebody, anybody. I finally found Daddy standing at the edge of the detention pond behind the church. It was full of all sorts of stuff: cars, tree trunks, gas grills, hot water heaters, and two bodies. The bodies were naked, and I didn’t recognize them at first. But then I saw their faces. It was Brother Mack and the second Hillyer girl. They were facing each other, impaled by a metal post from the chain link fence, pushed together like two pieces of chicken on a kebab."

Thursday, May 21

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "A Friendly Game"

A story of growth, regression, and divergent paths.

"But mostly, Joan sat for hours in her favorite spot of their old living room couch where she breastfed Phil. It felt sometimes like he was resting in the crook of her arm. And other times, her breasts would drip milk and she’d sit with a throbbing ache in her chest. Her husband returned twice a week, a different person each time as if trying on new identities: laughing, angry, sedate, stoic. Sometimes he brought the rocks with him. Sometimes Joan would have to go out on her own looking for them."

Thursday, May 14

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "Ghosts & Cyborgs"

Loss and family in an era of police crime and black protests.

"Guilt racked Lois as she downed the last of her coffee. She had promised Jillian she’d go to church with her whenever the verdict came; they were supposed to mourn together. The thing was, even as they were having the conversation, Lois knew she wasn’t going. Something about the thought felt hollow and wrong. How could she embrace people inside the comforts of stained glass when, outside, folks were fighting a foul battle?"

Thursday, May 7

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Fiction Pick of the Week: "Girls Like That Eat Lemon Poundcake"

Southern generational and gender divides.

"I got the word. When I saw her turning up the earth for peonies, it was like those clumps of hard red clay were speaking to me. Those spindly arms of hers with tattoos down to her elbows begged for someone with a hearty dose of Luke, Matthew, and Paul."