Sophie Durbin

Waiting

By TRACY HARRIS 

You stare low on the horizon into the black sky and wait for the next tiny circle of light. A flash. You hold your breath. You listen to the high-pitched whir as each pinpoint shoots upward, and your eyes follow the undulating trajectory, one, two, sometimes three seconds and still you’re not really breathing. The light vanishes, and you wait, bracing yourself for one loud low boom, a series of pops and crackles, or a deep, hard blast that feels like a punch in the chest. And in that instant before each burst you hope for your favorite colors and shapes, for purple or green or one of those big white sparklers that puffs out like a giant dandelion cloud then hangs suspended, for just a heartbeat, before each shimmering speck flickers and falls toward earth.

Waiting
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Modest for a Dictator

By IRINA HRINOSCHI

opulent room 1

Bucharest, Romania

Spring Boulevard 50, in the heart of Bucharest’s former nomenklatura, currently bourgeois neighborhood, is where the former General Secretary’s one-story villa can be found. Împușcatu is what people sometimes call him around here, “the one who was shot,” or Ceașcă, “cup.” They were executed in winter: Nicolae Ceaușescu, and his wife Elena, who was also shot, but in people’s minds this was secondary to her being an insufferable pseudo-intellectual who loved fur coats. And their children, Nicu, Zoe and Valentin, spared during the 1989 Revolution.

Modest for a Dictator
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Review: Higher Ground

Book by ANKE STELLING, translated from the German by LUCY JONES

Review by MAURICIO RUIZ

 

Red Higher Ground book cover

A woman writes to her fourteen-year-old daughter. Not letters but a manual. She tries to offer advice on how to live in Germany in the early twenty-first century. There are the practical matters, the dos and don’ts that are imposed on each member of society depending on the stratus he or she belongs to. There are also the more nuanced aspects of human interaction such as friendship, why it matters, and how it could be lost. The woman writes in present tense, without much ornament, it flows and flows, and in the act of writing the woman is being transformed.

Review: Higher Ground
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How to Slaughter

By SHAELIN BISHOP

My sister used to make me watch her slaughter rabbits, until I could observe without crying. I was eleven; she was thirteen. She’d carry one up the bluff behind our house each afternoon, hind legs noosed in her grip, then kneel in the scrub grass and order that I watch her wishbone their necks. The sound of it—that mucusy snap—found me when doors slammed, when resin popped inside the pines. My eyes glassed so I watched the slaughter through a kaleidoscope, and she’d tell me that if this was enough to break me, I had no chance in this world.

The next day, another rabbit. Another. Another. This was how she’d make me strong. She was skinning me of my softness. Peeling girlhood from girl.

What I feared most was the day she’d hold a knife out to me in one hand and a rabbit in the other and demand I slot blade into animal. I could not do jigsaw puzzles because it conjured this inevitability. I could not peel carrots. But she never did, perhaps so I would always need her.

How to Slaughter
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