FROM THIS SEASON'S ISSUE: Winter 2014


Last Rites: A Chinese Burial

After my Grandfather died, he waited in line for one year. His ashes, inside a lacquered box, sat among the ashes of others in a cold concrete bunker nestled in the Chinese countryside. Each box bore a tiny black-and-white engraving of the deceased. The owner of the bunker kept track of burials by scrawling a name and date on the lids. A single light bulb hung from the ceiling. It was rigged to save electricity by shutting off when it sensed no movement. Whenever someone came in on funeral business, the bulb flickered on. Otherwise, the dead waited their turn in darkness.

Against New Feminism

Last September, the McNally Jackson bookstore in SoHo, New York, hosted an event to celebrate the publication of the critical edition of Chris Kraus’s Aliens and Anorexia. The event was called “Alien Insurrection: An Evening with Chris Kraus, Emily Gould, Ariana Reines, Kate Zambreno, and Others,” and Kraus and seven other women were to give readings of the book and discuss “new feminism,” which I had never heard of. The venue was packed, the whole bottom ­floor of the bookstore over­flowing with women: women wearing all black, women with notebooks, women with their hair heaped on top of their heads in the turn-of-the-century Gibson Girl style popular in the lit world. It was clearly an event that both the audience and the panel of readers had dressed up for, and everyone was eyeing each other up and down, unused, I think, to seeing so many other literary women in a room, uninterrupted by the presence of men.

Eulogy for a Cosmonaut

Believing himself still young, a ditchdigger in the town where I once lived abandoned his dog so that he could travel the world and see what was what. I was only six years old at the time, beloved, and oblivious to the old mongrel’s lonesomeness when we took her in. In the mornings she’d rush in, ailing and enthusiastic, pummeling my bare legs with her front paws to wake me out of bed, as if kneading a window for escape: Up, up! And in the evenings, when I’d run her down the pavement, she’d scatter gravel underneath her abdomen, clocking particles of airborne terrain across my sight: floured leaf, insect bone, grits of carbon, silt, sod, some clay. I’d fan for a warm breath, catch flashes of the moon eating dusk on the alternating pages.

Notes From
21 South Street

Poetry

Depression

Depression—it’s a public feeling But what if I don’t like anything as much as I pretend to Darling Darling Darling What if I don’t even like you

Fiction

Night Bus

Everything was either rain or screens. The screens shined out and lit up the rain in bulbous shapes. The rain was dripping on the screens too. Mai took her flats off and walked barefoot to the bus. She could feel the gum spots on the sidewalks.