Thursday, June 11


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


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


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


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


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


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."

Thursday, April 30


Fiction Pick of the Week: The Electric City

A group buys the city of Detroit with lottery winnings.

"We stayed on our street all day for a couple of weeks, doing all the work we needed to do to convince people we weren’t a problem. We never got around to telling anyone that we’d bought the city, because we weren’t having the kinds of conversations where you’d bring that up. We told people we’d lost our jobs instead, that Detroit was cheap. They’d nod. We smoked up a lot and drank plenty of the lemonade stuff, which was yellow Crystal Light mixed with water and vodka."

Thursday, April 23


Fiction Pick of the Week: "Peacetime"

An Iraq War veteran, now a paramedic, runs into trouble.

"I rewarded the man with another hit of naloxone, which made him even more alive, even less happy. Karen was busy with the gear, and I thought for sure that the coast was clear. It wasn’t. As soon as I put the note in my pocket, I saw the boy. He stood in the doorway, watching me with a basically impassive expression. He chewed his gum. He blew a splendid bubble."

Thursday, April 16


Fiction Pick of the Week: "Of Two Minds"

A story of the very complicated demographics of small-town life.

"But I’m no country bumpkin, let me tell you. Cultural institutions in Spencer include a glass studio, a community theater, and a bona fide art school, which relocated in 2008 from the city of Detroit, which as you might have guessed, did not make the cut for’s Top 100 Places to Live for 2007. Hence, the art school moving to Spencer. If you’re wondering how a city gets on the list, it says on’s website that theirs is the “only list that is determined by statistics and feedback of the people who live, work & play in these communities.” So basically, they take in consideration both fact and opinion and process them in a secret formula to produce a totally non-biased ranking based not just on numbers but also on the enthusiasm of Real People Who Definitely Live There. This explains why we are only three slots down from San Francisco, California on the rankings, because we are definitely on par with a major metropolitan, ocean-bordering melting pot with a majority-minority population of close to a million people where it Doesn’t Snow Ever; anyone who’s ever been to Spencer, Iowa can attest to that."

Thursday, April 9


Fiction Pick of the Week: "The Cigarettes"

A young boy, a pack of cigarettes, a looming summer.

"But he had found them. They were his, and he was going to smoke one or maybe three or four if that’s what he decided. And plus by himself, as in totally alone. And no one could stop him, no one, for that matter, would even know. He looked around again and saw the same—lazy cars and robins, the willow with its doves, an old man down the street, that was it, and sun and sky and breeze."

Thursday, April 2


Fiction Pick of the Week: "The Speed of Stopping"

On fishing, physics, and life's intangibles.

"Back when his girls were girls, with fluffy pink rugs on their bathroom floor, Burgundy wasn't much of a second-guesser. He was a richly confident physicist with work at the university. He golfed. They went to the club. Even when there were questions of the girls smoking or skipping school (and there were always questions, wink-wink), Burgundy hadn't worried about His Girls. They weren't that kind of a family. And anyway (so lovely were His Girls) if they would have been that kind of family they would have worn it well. Being well-paid, occupied and cohesively married does wonders for a man's confidence."

Thursday, March 26


Fiction Pick of the Week: "The Extra Mile"

A woman in an unhappy marriage stumbles toward change.

"Without turning the radio on, Hannah drove back into town and into the driveway of her house. She sat there in the car for a long while and ran through the drive with Tex over and over. She wanted to go back and stop herself from touching his leg. She wanted to go back and stop herself from driving there in the first place. She wanted to go back and stop the day from ever starting."