What Could Be Saved

Gregory Spatz’s short fiction collection, What Could Be Saved, raises essential questions about the nature of the art by offering us a glimpse into the lives of violin makers, whose artistry and technical prowess are the shadowy forces that give full articulation to a violinist’s talents. Just like the instruments they create, the job of […]

Mad Prairie

Certain states seem to be mentioned only when people are listing the ones that nobody ever mentions. Kansas is an easy target. Our broader understanding of Kansan culture seems to have been cut off at The Wizard of Oz, most of which takes place in a fantasy world that is explicitly not Kansas. Whether the […]

Rhinoceros Ridge

Rhinoceros Ridge Photo by Nacho Domínguez Argenta “You remind me of my brother,” I tell Ricky. We’re making out on the grass behind the cellar. Rocks dig beds into my knees, stationed on either side of Ricky’s ips. Far away, but not far enough, I hear the stray dogs howl. “Don’t be gross,” he says, […]


Josh Wardrip’s debut novel Forum begins with an epigraph from Pindar’s First Pythian Ode. In it, the Theban poet recalls the ill repute of the sixth-century despot Phalaris, “who burned men in his bronze bull. . .” We learn some hundred pages after this epigraph that a similar “brazen bull” stood in the center of a forum in […]

McMullen Circle

The vivid stories of McMullen Circle by Heather Newton take place at the fictional McMullen Boarding School in the fictional town of Tonola Falls, Georgia. But readers familiar with north Georgia will recognize in McMullen the real-life Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School, which faces US-441 from a mowed hillside. When Newton writes of McMullen that “The school’s […]

What if We Were Somewhere Else

In Wendy J. Fox’s latest story collection—What If We Were Somewhere Else—Fox conjures up a contemporary focal point, a start-up in Denver, Colorado, as a nexus from which multiple avenues of modern life intersect and propagate drama in the lives of the all-too-flawed characters. With stylistic panache, Fox grapples with modernity pre- and post-Trump, without […]

In the Event of Contact

My partner asked recently what I look for most when reading short story collections. What’s most compelling? Is it character? Playfulness in form or structure? The cohesive whole created by the range of stories? It’s never just one thing, is it? The voice and humor in Bryan Washington’s collection Lot blew me away. The granular […]

The Annotated Mrs. Dalloway

There is something quite private about annotating a book. Without thought to publication, writing in the margins is an act of confidence; there is the possibility of glibness, or pretention, or completely banal questions that we wouldn’t typically offer up in public. We are able to argue with every page of Plato, if we so […]

The Silk Road

The characters of Kathryn Davis’ The Silk Road read as metaphorical appendages to one body. In a yoga studio called “the labyrinth,” the eight practitioners move through their poses in unison, cautious not to draw the ire of their enigmatic instructor. While rousing from a final, collective meditation, the group encounters a problem: one of […]