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American fiction

Gosia Herba

Soucouyant

The mouse before me is dead, its body emptied of organs. Dead but still innervated, so still blinking in this world. I only harvest from their core—heart, lungs, liver, and the rest—but soon I will have to work with their brains.

André Wee

Kitty Hawk

Until her father died, Sissy Willard’s parents took her and her two brothers out of school every year at the end of April to spend a week in Kitty Hawk, and every year they stayed in the same old beachfront high-rise, the Ocean Vista.

Stephanie Shieldhouse

Long Bright Line

Through the window Clara could see the men: dark still hats huddled together. The only thing moving was their pipe smoke. It curled in lamp-​lit clouds. Then—​a whoop!—​the clouds blew, the huddle burst, the hats were flying.

Stephanie Shieldhouse

Map-Reading

She sounded good over the telephone. A soft rich alto voice, full grown. She was now twenty-​two. Benton was fifty-​one. A half-​sister he had never had a conversation with in his life. Kate. Katie. 

Stephanie Shieldhouse

Leon’s Fire

Leon was a loser, but a tough loser trapped in a linebacker’s body. He wasn’t a vindictive person, or a hateful person, but there were long gaps in his disposition where you could tell a certain kind of dimness was setting in, the kind of dimness you see in someone’s eyes at the end of a cruel act, like the one on Samson’s ranch. 

<i>The Dream of the Great American Novel</i> by Lawrence Buell. Harvard University Press, 2014. 500p. HB, $39.95.

The Big Read: Can a Single Book Sum Up a Nation?

As soon becomes apparent, The Dream of the Great American Novel simply isn’t aimed at the common reader or even at many uncommon ones. The grateful audience for this book will be other scholars and teachers of American literature, who will plunder its pages for decades to come.

Erich Hartmann / Magnum Photos

The Debt

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.

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