All posts tagged: Issue 21

An Orient Free of Orientalism: Magic, the square, and women in Moroccan short fiction

By HISHAM BUSTANI
Translated by MADELINE EDWARDS

 

Morocco has long been associated in the Arab imagination with magic and superstition, casting off mystical curses and exorcising jinn from the body. The word “al-Moghrabi” (“the Moroccan”) has itself become yet another qualification claimed by those who work in this parallel world, adding it to their names, some going so far as to christen themselves “Sheikh from Morocco.”  These are the men one hears about from time to time, those who help ancient treasure-seekers get their hands on spell-protected troves, perhaps of the sort guarded by serpents.

An Orient Free of Orientalism: Magic, the square, and women in Moroccan short fiction
Read more...

All the Ways to Experience Issue 21

The Common Issue 21 cover with a green cassette tape on a creamy beige background

Issue 21 is here!

Click here to purchase your print or digital copy, starting at just $7.

Click here to browse the Table of Contents.

Love Issue 21’s portfolio of stories and art from Morocco? Donate to support The Common’s mission to feature new and underrepresented voices from around the world, including their translators!

Interested in teaching Issue 21 in your class? Click here to explore your options and resources.

 

All the Ways to Experience Issue 21
Read more...

Trap Street

By KAREN SKOLFIELD 

“[T]he existence, or non-existence, of a road is a non-copyrightable fact.” —Alexandria Drafting Co. v. Amsterdam (1997) 

Twitch of the cartographer’s hand and a street 
is born, macadam free, a tree-lined absence, 
paved with nothing but a name. No sidewalks, 
no chalk, no children’s voices, 
a fence unlinked from its chains, 
the cars unmoored, corn left to its rubble, 
some wandering mailman, a house unbuilt, 
the bricks unlayed, the mortar unmixed; 
of the things that hold more things together 
the cementitious crumbles on this street, 
the lime breaks from the shale, the shells 
from their marl and clay. On trap streets 
the rules of gravity bend, curve to the mountain 
or fight it, dog leg the impossible angle, 
ribbon the gulley, shimmer from heat, 
unspool. Cliff walk, some miracle mile 
meant only for goats, a meander of cloven hooves, 
a stitching of strip mines, red earth or white,
ground that, once spotted, we call disturbed

Trap Street
Read more...

Misdirection

By AMALIA GLADHART 

For years, I have tried to describe the light: the dry, dry gold; the purple peaks of our horizon; the long-armed valleys sliding off the peaks. Craters tinseled after frost, glaciers before the recent years of drought. Late-afternoon glow over brown dirt walls, valley floors blasting green with sugar, and the black volcanic rock of the single mountain without snow. Light like liquid gold against the brown, radiant gold drizzled across the ridges. 

And then I try to name a lack of light, the mist that isn’t gray and isn’t white and isn’t rain. Light through fog, light instead of fog, fog instead of light. The sparkle of dew along a leaf, even when it seems there isn’t any light at all. Light, and not-light, that you can get lost in. Light that misleads you, leads you on. The flicker of a flashlight through tent walls. 

Misdirection
Read more...

Recollections

By ALEKSANDAR HEMON 

My father once asked me: How is it I can recollect
with utmost clarity what happened forty years ago, 
but not what I did this morning at all? I didn’t know, 

but I recognized I would always recall that moment.
It was late summer. We were driving to the country
to see my grandfather, now blind and demented,

Recollections
Read more...

A Journey Up The Exe

By DAVID H. LYNN

 

From across the Atlantic, I’m helplessly, compulsively watching videos on the BBC and other news sites. It’s early February 2014, and an unusually powerful storm—in truth a sequence of fierce winter gales—has been raking the south coast of Devon, like a wave of marauding bombers. The storm has conspired with the moon and spring tides (nothing seasonal in the term—these “spring forth” each lunar month), to batter a path of old stone and brick known as the Goat Walk. The path runs south from the small town of Topsham and along the bank of the River Exe, a distinguishing feature here for generations.

A Journey Up The Exe
Read more...

Our Day in Peredelkino

By MARTHA COOLEY 

In my late thirties, when for a short period I lived in Moscow, I sometimes wondered if there were too many words in the English language. Longing and desire, for instance: was it really necessary to have both? Couldn’t a single, flexible word suffice? Maybe want would work. Not need; that was different. 

Having plenty of words at our disposal wasn’t doing Jack and myself much good, in any case. We were at an impasse—my word for it now, though back then I might’ve called it a checkpoint. Jack would’ve have named it a choice-point, I imagine. At any rate, although neither of us was skittish about talking, we couldn’t seem to find common verbal ground, and our conversations had grown increasingly fraught. My husband wanted a kid; I wanted to want one, which wasn’t the same thing. You like adventures, Jack kept saying. You’re a curious person; you’ve always been open to new experiences. Yes, I kept responding, but this isn’t an adventure we’re talking about. We can bail out of an adventure if it’s not right; we can’t do that with a kid. What do you mean by right? Jack kept asking, and though I tried, I couldn’t give him or myself a clear answer. Right as in natural? As in obvious? As in doable?

Our Day in Peredelkino
Read more...

First

By KEITH LEONARD

 

I fell in love and became        like those men in Plato’s Republic
who heard music for the first time        and began singing,
and sang beyond reason,         beyond dinner, beyond sleep,
and even died without noticing it,      without wavering.

First
Read more...

Ode to a California Neck Tattoo

By JOSE HERNANDEZ DIAZ

A man in a Chicano Batman shirt got a tattoo of the state of California on his neck. He rode his longboard to the tattoo parlor early in the morning. This was going to be his third tattoo. He also had a tattoo of palm trees on his chest and a skeleton on a surfboard on his calf. He smoked a cigarette as he arrived at the shop.

Ode to a California Neck Tattoo
Read more...