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Ann Beattie

Ann Beattie is the recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award, the Rea Award for the Short Story, and an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Her short stories have been published in four O. Henry Prize collections, as well as in John Updike’s The Best American Short Stories of the Century. Beattie’s numerous books include The State We’re In: Maine Stories (Scribner, 2015) and The New Yorker: Stories (Scribner, 2010).


Illustration by Gosia Herba

Other People’s Birthdays

Fall 2015 | Fiction

Whatever it took to make it an arduous trip, and of course you couldn’t say the obvious, you had to smile and say there were worse problems blah blah blah. The mediocre glass of wine for thirteen dollars at the airport bar was one of them. The candy bar she ate on top of that, an hour later, made her sick. 

Erich Hartmann / Magnum Photos

The Debt

Summer 2013 | Fiction

The plane landed in Fort Lauderdale and Dick and Royce (Royal) were picked up by a pretty young woman wearing a tank top, shorts, and silver antlers and driven to Hertz. Royal’s brother Brandt arranged such things—or his secretary Jacki did (“Bag claim F. Laud surprise,” she’d texted.) When things like the Lexus Reindeer unexpectedly appeared, the secretary knew it made Royal’s day. It took his friends—it took him—a while to sort it out: Jacki’s kindness, perfectly paired with her taste for the absurd.


Summer 1994 | Fiction

In 1979, when I was for two years an instructor at the University of New Hampshire, I had a student—a bright, anxious, but always attentive student—named Charles Fortunesky. He was taller than most of the others, and seemed to enjoy a comic sense of himself as gawky and slightly ridiculous. He wore his baseball cap backwards—a style that only became fashionable years after he performed his turn-around—and once, during my office hours, he put a Swiss Army knife on my desk and pantomimed a strange routine in which he pretended to click out a blade and, say, a nailfile; he then imitated, with his body, their arrangement.


Winter 1987 | Fiction

Last September, Christine had gone back to college to study literature. The previous June, her lover had told her that he was transferring to Brookline, Massachusetts. She knew before she asked that he did not want her to go with him.

Eric Clapton’s Lover

Summer 1976 | Fiction

Franklin Fisher and his wife, Beth, were born on the same day of March, two years apart. Franklin was 39 years old, and Beth was 41. Beth liked chiles relenos, Bass ale, gazpacho; Franklin liked mild foods: soufflés, quiche, pea soup. How could she drink Bass ale?