Kei Lim

Present Tense Machine: A Review

By GUNNHILD ØYEHAUG (Translated from the Norwegian by KARI DICKSON)

Reviewed by OLGA ZILBERBOURG

 

Book cover of Present Tense Machine by Gunnhild Oyehaug

Laura is expecting a baby. A twenty-four-year-old literature instructor, she lives with her partner Karl Peter in the heart of Bergen, a city in the westernmost part of Norway. She’s suffering from a strange sort of anxiety, which she suspects has something to do with the pregnancy: everything around her seems double, not quite like what it is.

Laura has more common anxieties as well, including a problem with her apartment. The buildings in her part of town are constructed of brick on the outside and wood inside, which makes them so flammable that they’re called “chimney houses.” If their chimney house were to catch on fire, there would be little chance of escape. Then, there are the noisy students living above and below, a drug dealer across the street, hypodermic needles littering the neighborhood. She decides that she and Karl Peter have to move before the baby comes, but this decision, too, seems to bring her nothing but anxiety.

Present Tense Machine: A Review
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Translation: The Men Go to War

Story by TOMÁS DOWNEY

Translated from the Spanish by SARAH MOSES

The piece appears below in both English and Spanish.

 

Translator’s Note

When I first read Tomás Downey’s story, “Los hombres van a la guerra,” I reread it. This was the ending’s doing: it called into question all that came prior, as the best endings do (I think here of Alice Munro). So I had an ulterior motive for translating the story: I wanted to understand how Tomás had put it together, how he’d written towards that ending. I’m not convinced I’ve figured it out. But in a sense, translating the story was studying it, and I hope that something of the circular way it works makes its way into my own writing. I hope, too, that readers of “The Men Go to War” have a similar experience: that the ending directs them back to the beginning for a second read.

— Sarah Moses 

Translation: The Men Go to War
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Which One is the Lifeline?

By ALEXIS M. WRIGHT

I could tell you,
If I wanted to,
What makes me
What I am.

But I don’t
Really want to—
And you don’t
Give a damn.

—Langston Hughes, “Impasse”

There are two cops from the Orange County Sheriff’s Department standing in my grandmother’s kitchen. We are all gathered around the kitchen island silently negotiating the power dynamics. Two Black women, two White cops. The cops have come to collect the details for the report, but I’m doing most of the talking. Grammy bears witness.

Which One is the Lifeline?
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Ode to Powerline

Winner of the 2022 DISQUIET Prize for Poetry

By DARIUS SIMPSON 

 “if you’re ever lonelayyyy, stop, you don’t have to be.”
Powerline                                    

you, thrust open leather vest glisten chest in the desert
you, both knee beggin in silver pants plus rain
you, break a lover wide to see what lyrics may flow                                                            

Ode to Powerline
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Bones and Ghosts

By DAVID MILLS

From my row house mailbox, I fished
an envelope: no address, just “David.” 
scrawled. In my room, I read: e-mails 

bounced back, calls orphaned. If you’re 
alive and don’t want to talk I get it.
Though six hours across
the Atlantic
is much farther than six along it. If 
need be, I will kneel before your grave.  
here’s my number. just in case.

Bones and Ghosts
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Galleria

By AUSTIN SEGREST

                    Power, which hides what it can
                                —George Oppen

1/

A kind of hangar by the mall. 
Propulsive dance hits 
looped like the 80s never ended—
B-b-b-b-b-baby, I-I-I-I can’t wait…

Galleria
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Inconvenience Store

By SOPHIE DURBIN

A picture of the inside of a Don Quijote convenience store in Japan.

Tokyo, Japan

 

The superiority of Japanese convenience stores—conbini—is no longer a secret to the world. Although most residents of Japan consider these corner stores an unremarkable albeit essential element of daily life, the rapid spread of Japanese soft power in the last decade has elevated conbini from a matter of insider knowledge to a must-see attraction featured in travel guides. Prior to Japan’s strict COVID-19 travel restrictions, tourists would flock to Tokyo’s conbini to bask in the novelty of a 7-Eleven that boasts fresh salmon onigiri and matcha purin instead of slurpees and $1 coffee.

Inconvenience Store
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