• Craig Nova ~ Rattlesnake

    (from NWW archives)

    Earl MacKenzie owned a movie ranch in Chatsworth, California. The place was a col­lec­tion of facades, all of them made of wood that had aged to the col­or of a jackrab­bit. The facades lined two blocks of a dusty street, and on them there were signs for a saloon, a bar­ber shop, a mar­shal’s office, a gen­er­al store, a black­smith, and a hotel. A plank side­walk ran in front of them, –more

  • Ann Beattie ~ Writing Visually

    I am not alone among writ­ers in pre­tend­ing that I have a “very visu­al sense” of what I’m writ­ing about.  Putting it this way sug­gests, even to me, that I have untapped tal­ents – except for the fact that I don’t real­ly have them.  My hus­band, who is a painter, deals more inti­mate­ly with the visu­al world, how­ev­er, where­as I can only describe what­ev­er I see by using words, which, in –more

  • Mary Grimm ~ Before All This

    Her dreams last night had been red dreams, that was all she could say. Not red like blood, more like the red of the first tulips, a shock of col­or that blasts away the cold and the pale pas­tels of cro­cus­es and daf­fodils. Red dreams, trav­el­ing dreams. Dreams with a map.

    In the day­light, she sort­ed through sta­tis­tics as if it were her job. The graphs, the ris­ing line, the maps (maps!) that showed what –more

  • Anon ~ Sometimes

    Sometimes I stop read­ing a book, not because I do not like the book but because I like it far too much. There may be a sense that I resent the book hav­ing a cer­tain kind of author­i­ty which I want to defy, by ignor­ing it for a time, or chas­ing it off with anoth­er book. This hap­pened to me recent­ly. I was read­ing Modiano, again— SUCH FINE BOYS— when it occurred to me that I must stop. –more

  • Kim Magowan & Michelle Ross ~ Accountability Buddies

    When Donna brings home the exer­cise book from the library, her eight-year-old daugh­ter Tess says of the bare-stom­ached woman on the book’s cov­er, “Sexy! She’s got six-pack abs!”

    Donna looks at the abs in ques­tion. What she sees is cater­pil­lar poop. Donna’s back­yard veg­etable gar­den is sprin­kled with ridged cater­pil­lar turds, like tiny grenades. That’s because the tree branch­es that reach –more

  • Dawn Raffel ~ Three Micros


    Think of it,” the moth­er said, “as if it were a secret, hid­den city under­wa­ter.”
    “Think of it,” the moth­er said, “as if it were a mov­ing sculp­ture in time.”
    The daugh­ter said, “I think of it as fish.”
    The fish in the gift shop are orange and stuffed. The daugh­ter says she wants one.
    The moth­er says, “Maybe.”
    The moth­er says, –more

  • Sandra Kolankiewicz ~ What Might Today

    Certainly, I admired before I met
    you, a per­son who was doing what I
    could not imag­ine, and not for your­self
    but for oth­ers, the way ani­mals
    adopt lost souls of anoth­er species.
    Afterwards, I just did not respond when
    oth­ers talked, ignored them, learned to put you
    into what today ther­a­pists call a
    “com­part­ment” for, though –more

  • Mary Crawford ~ Memento Mori

    My lit­tle sis­ter heard about the monks who slept in coffins the bet­ter to under­stand life so she asked my broth­er to make her one. He took some lum­ber from a half-fin­ished house down the street and in our garage instruct­ed my sis­ter in the use of the jig­saw, plan­er and orbital sander. Between the two they built a cof­fin. In home ec she sewed a lin­ing, a silky-smooth blue satin, a col­or only –more

  • Gary Percesepe ~ This Era

    This era will be remem­bered as our Vichy peri­od, that shad­owy era in France where the Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors sought to blend in with the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion, but were con­tin­u­ous­ly called out, and inter­ro­gat­ed, where­upon they fab­ri­cat­ed elab­o­rate denials and intri­cate webs of deceit. The GOP must be held account­able, but his­to­ry sug­gests there will be incen­tives to for­get. In time every­thing is for­got­ten. –more

  • G. Percesepe ~ Firsts

    I went for a walk last night. A block in I heard some­thing odd near­by, looked down, found it was the new fam­i­ly dog, a recent res­cue, usu­al­ly too timid to even look at me. Who knows what she suf­fered in her pre­vi­ous life? But since yes­ter­day, since Monday, I’ve been feed­ing her table scraps. She’s been look­ing up when I call her name. And now there she was, keep­ing pace with me walk­ing the dark street. I was afraid she’d get hit by a car, but she paid no atten­tion to the cars or the oth­er dogs, just walked beside me, her lit­tle legs churn­ing. After a time we turned into the park, cut across the base­ball dia­mond where no chil­dren were play­ing, and made our way home.
  • Kim Ross ~ The Business of Crows

    On the third morn­ing of the con­fer­ence I ducked into Whole Foods for break­fast and there she was again, the tall young barista with the two-toned hair, horn rimmed glass­es and that smile that could eat a dic­tio­nary all by itself. I pitched her my lat­te order before cir­cling the buf­fet, grin­ning in a way beyond friend­ly that made me feel old and creepy, like my dad flirt­ing with wait­ress­es a third –more

  • John Baum ~ Teedub Leaves Home

    Even before he got out of high school, Teedub told peo­ple he might as well be an orphan. Not for any atten­tion, just to heave the truth out there. Trying on the old man’s lan­guage, he’d say, “My daddy’s of no-count.” He didn’t need him, not at all.

    He was ten when his mama died. His dad­dy might should’ve gone and done the same thing, too, for all the effort he put into being a dad­dy. –more

  • Tommy Dean ~ Temporary Housing

    On those nights when our par­ents fought, we crawled into their clos­et and closed the door. The muf­fled sen­sa­tion of dart­ed-words ham­mered at our backs as we dug through the rem­nants of our par­ents’ past lives. Yearbooks, and melt­ed can­dles, track batons with sharpied time tri­als, baby blan­kets wrin­kled with mildew. Love let­ters and class rings, old foot­ball stats. The sheet music for “Somewhere –more

  • Phebe Jewell ~ Dept. of Imagination

    Don’t tell your father,” Mom would say, fold­ing a lot­tery tick­et and slip­ping it into her purse. Poor people’s tax, Dad scoffed every time he spot­ted the Washington State Lottery’s “Dept. of Imagination” logo. He nev­er bought a tick­et, but Mom stopped by the counter under the four-leaf-clover ban­ner when it was just the two of us. Another of our lit­tle –more

  • Sean Lovelace ~ A Conversation with My Father by Grace Paley

    Back when, I remem­ber com­ing across this sto­ry all the time (most like­ly the same year I found The Smiths and quit the entire state of Mississippi [and all I knew there] and moved to Denver to work as a hos­pi­tal order­ly like my hero, Denis Johnson) in fic­tion antholo­gies, short sto­ry text­books, etcetera, books bought for fifty cents or one dol­lar (at most) in cramped and musty book­stores (this was –more