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violence

<i>Rational Fog: Science and Technology in Modern War</i>. By M. Susan Lindee. Harvard UP, 2020. 296pp. HB, $45.

They’re Using You to Kill People

December 3, 2020

Thomas Pynchon found an accommodating symbol in the Aggregat 4 (aka the V-2) rocket, a weapon that could not save the war for the Greater German Reich but became operational soon enough to kill thousands huddled under the throbbing sirens of London. The centerpiece of his 1973 novel, Gravity’s Rainbow, was the world’s first supersonic ranged weapon, arriving at its target before its pitched scream. 

The 2020

September 8, 2020

We were passengers forced to jump into the water when our ship, the 2020, after years of creaking, cracked in half and sank down into the darkness. The ship was long thought to be beautiful. For it gleamed in the sunlight. And it gleamed in the moonlight. It throbbed like a beacon, could be seen across great distances. And since it was like a beacon it was taken for a beacon. 

Muster’s Puppets Presents

Claire was coming over with her boyfriend—her partner—and Joan was baking mince pies in preparation, though she couldn’t remember whether Claire liked mince pies. It was difficult to keep everything straight with four children who changed their [...]

Who Is This Guy?

Now that I’m dead too, just like the living dead on TV, 
fat chance that the merely living will be saved 
by doing what they did when I was merely living— 
nailing their doors shut against me, 
hurricane-proofing the windows, 
positioning snipers at the embrasures.

Suffer Me to Pass

It was only a beer bottle I found in the middle of the trail, but it pinged an impulse in me to go. Get back to the car, give up our Saturday hike. I didn’t tell Cheryl, who stood by while I picked up the bottle and knocked off the dust. She’s known me for thirty years, since our kids were babies, and mostly she endures my jumpy nervousness. But a single empty beer bottle in the big, wide open of Oregon on a sunny June day—it was silly, even for me, to get worked up over such a thing.

Illustration by Abigail Piña Rocha Carlisle

Murmurs on the Plain

Rulfo’s literary reputation rests on just two slim books—the short story collection El Llano en llamas (The Plain in Flames), first published in 1953, and the novel Pedro Páramo, released two years later. Pedro Páramo would arguably go on to become the defining novel of Mexico’s twentieth century, inspiring the writers of Latin America’s “Boom” generation and helping to usher in a new age of literature across the continent.

Old Croghan Man

March 2, 2020

Only a torso now, the head
long severed from the neck, pelvis
twisted off like a stubborn root.

Pink

March 2, 2020

Pink is the Tuscan sunset. Pink
Are the Vietnamese monk pates
Bobbing under Piero’s True Cross.
Pink is plenty, pink is joy.

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