A Minor Chorus

One of very few things that can be safely said about fiction is that stories offer writers and readers experiences. Robert Frost famously said of writing poems, “no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.” I quote that line a lot because I think it’s lovely and worth memorizing, but I know it’s […]

Mongolian Horse

It is easy to see how the stories forming David E. Yee’s debut collection, Mongolian Horse, bring to light the heartaches that accompany the end of one’s youth as each story’s protagonist gains a clear-eyed sense of life’s disappointments. Yee’s protagonists, mostly men in their twenties and early thirties, experience varying forms of loss, learning […]

A Single Rose

Muriel Barbery’s A Single Rose follows a French botanist’s emotional tour through the Zen gardens of Kyoto, Japan, to discover joy beyond grief. Like Barbery’s previous novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, this book’s charm originates in the rebellious heart of its philosopher protagonist. Rose awakens jet-lagged in the Kyoto home of her late father, […]


Hope may be the thing with feathers, but according to Søren Kierkegaard, it can fly away from what is necessary, leading its pursuer into despair. This deceit of myriad possibilities is a living death, the obsessed having lost the semblance of self apart from the thing desired: an unrequited love, a career, or better yet—an […]

Deep River

Deep River Photo by Intricate Explorer I Minnie walks out along the lip of the falls. Halfway between the riverbanks she pauses and lets the cold water push against her feet and calves. The sun is sinking behind the mill upstream. The shadow spreads toward her like a blue solution poured into the current. (“I […]

Café Shira

Café Shira isn’t simply a place to grab cup of coffee. Oh, no. For many, its meaning is much deeper and far more divine. In David Ehrlich’s novel of the same name, Café Shira is a place where his characters seek transcendence, though not all may succeed in finding exactly what they are looking for. […]

Bratwurst Haven

A linked collection is such a readerly pleasure. As each new story begins, the reader is reengaged, figuring out how this featured character is connected to characters met earlier, often considering anew what was already known. The world expands as the book unfolds. In Rachel King’s excellent short story collection, Bratwurst Haven, the twelve stories […]

Night Owls

Night Owls Winner of the 2022 Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction Selected by Ramona Ausubel Photo by Mathew Schwartz   Past dusk, Hom releases the squirrel. Huffing and delirious with pain from the BB shot embedded in a hind leg, it limps across the yard, seeking refuge in the shadowy expanse. Clouds disperse, unveiling a […]


The Irish writer Colin Barrett’s second story collection, Homesickness, contains memorable portraits of characters who are caught within the tight strictures of small-town life, uneasily moving ahead while bearing the burdens of their ever-present histories. The stories are mostly set in Mr. Barrett’s birthplace of County Mayo, on the Atlantic coast of Ireland, and while […]