When I translate Claudia Masin, I feel like I’m ice skating. This is not a foolproof metaphor, I know. But what I mean, mostly, is that it’s exhilarating. Her long, deft, elegant lines; her line breaks, both graceful and unpredictable; her limber back-and-forth between the broadly rhetorical and the minutely descriptive: all of this, all of her language, structure, and sense of timing, forms a surface, a gleaming expanse that I feel free—I want to feel free—to glide across. Fast enough for a sense of wonder, the illusion of ease; not so fast that I don’t notice what’s around me. Or beneath me: the inherent spookiness of ice, the shadows under the surface, the plants and creatures stilled but still living where we can sense more than see them.
In the not-so-early morning, the beach enjoyed a calm troubled only by the swishing of the waves and the murmur of the sea against a rocky spit that extended into the water. At the foot of the white bakery, the waves broke in a monotonous sequence. The Nile Valley café, next to the bakery, shared in the morning calm—Abdul Farraj was snoozing lazily, and the waiter was having a temporary rest from his labors. Everything was calm. The sun crept slowly up the sky and poured light onto the surface of the sea and the roofs of the wooden houses, while a kite squawked on the minaret of the Askala mosque. On the western side of the horizon, the mountains lay in their blue calm, and between the sea and the mountains lay the city.
CLARICE All his victims are women… His obsession is women, he lives to hunt women. But not one woman is hunting him—except me. I can walk into a woman’s room and know three times as much about her as a man would.
A starling catches me in a dress
and pierces my chest two times,
deeply, and I cannot blame her.
The end of romance was what the teenage girl
was telling you about on a bench in the Jardin
in San Miguel de Allende, giving you T.M.I.,
but you realized she might need a Father who is not in heaven.
She gasps: Tinder is even sleazier in Mexico, how could it be nostalgic? You listened, like your poems do when you write
them down in the cafes of Kerouac’s time here. You are Angelico
Americano with Instagram—troubled children of your own back home.
The most striking physical features of this city/town are . . .
Minneapolis is known as the “city of lakes” because of the five large bodies of water nestled in among the city blocks of houses and small businesses. The lakes give the city a vacation feel during the summer. You can go to the beach, bike and walk, and eat ice cream.
Ask a Local with Anika Fajardo: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Mohammad Ibrahim Nawaya’s story “To Be Led from Behind,” translated from the Arabic by Robin Moger, has been chosen to appear in Sonder Press’s 2020 award anthologyThe Best Small Fictions. The anthology, now in its sixth year, presents one hundred and twenty-six pristinely crafted pieces from an array of authors. It features micro fiction, flash fiction, haibun stories, and prose poetry.
The Bath Flash Fiction Award writes “[T]he beauty of an anthology such as this, pulling together the best of the form, is that you will always encounter something new, something different, something that pushes the boundaries of flash further than before. If this anthology proves nothing else, it is that small fiction in all its forms continues to go from strength to strength, as does the series itself.”
We’re all eager to support local small businesses at this difficult time. Among the businesses that could most use our support are independent bookstores: that’s why we at The Common have put together this list of bookstores we’ve partnered with who are staying open—in some capacity—to serve your literary quarantine needs. The situation is changing rapidly, so make sure to check bookstores’ websites or social media for the most up-to-date info on how they are operating.
“There were moments when I didn’t need to tell my body how to move,” poet Marcelo Hernandez Castillo writes in the opening passage of his memoir, Children of the Land. He’s introducing a scene in which armed ICE agents arrive at his house. He’s a senior in high school. The agents are looking for his father, who isn’t there. They leave. Yet their presence, a longstanding threat finally realized, creates a shift. Hernandez Castillo can no longer act without thinking. He explains, “Even laughter required some kind of effort. I had to remind myself: this is funny, this is how you laugh—laugh now, laugh hard, spit out your food.”
Review: Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo