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Elliott Holt

Elliott Holt is the author of the novel You Are One of Them (Penguin, 2013), a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her writing has been awarded a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Slate, and Time.

Author

Art by Anna Schuleit Haber

Geometry [private]

Summer 2018 | Fiction

I.

Although they are now in their forties and no longer live in the same house, Helen and Phoebe are still referred to as “the Campbell sisters.” This makes them feel less like people than a brand. It is a brand with a consistent equity, expressed recently by a woman at a party who said to Phoebe, “I’ve heard about you and your sister. How you’re both super beautiful and smart.”

Beautiful and smart. How was she supposed to respond to a comment like that? The word “super” bothered her, she tells Helen now. As if they are not mere mortals, but crusaders in capes. 


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Illustration by Chloe Scheffe

Amsterdam

Fall 2016 | Fiction

In Amsterdam I lived with a man who was always sad. His younger brother had died in a car crash when my lover was sixteen. Though it had been thirteen years since the accident, he carried the loss as if it were an heirloom. He had brought the loss from Copenhagen, where he was raised, to London, where we met. And now in Amsterdam, I felt it in our flat, its foggy chill. I watched him while he was sleeping and saw the sadness flutter behind his eyelids. Sometimes when he woke, he was on the brink of tears. His name was Örjan, and I began to think of the umlaut over the O as a mark of sorrow: It hovered like a shadow. 

The first time I invited Örjan into my bed was right after he told me about his brother. I pulled the story out, unraveling him line by line, until he began to shudder and weep and I had to wrap my body around his. I liked his sadness, the way it made his silences seem full. When he tied on his running shoes and set out for a jog, I knew he had demons to outrun. When he stared, unblinking, into his coffee, I was sure he was thinking that if his brother were still alive, he would now be twenty-seven, the same age as me. 

Illustration by Gosia Herba

Your Father Would Be Proud

Fall 2015 | Fiction

His father’s apartment, with its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, Oriental rugs, and views of Central Park, filled Helen with longing. She had always imagined herself in New York. She had always wanted a claim to that city’s streets. 

<i>Can’t and Won’t.</i>  By Lydia Davis.  Farrar, Straus and  Giroux, 2014.  304p. HB, $26.

The Loudly Ticking Clock

Spring 2014 | Criticism

In one of her early stories, “How to Become a Writer,” Lorrie Moore says, “Insist you are not very interested in one subject at all, that you are interested in the music of language, that you are interested in—​in—​syllables, because th [...]