Chance Encounters

Issues Brigid Hughes October 28, 2015

Introducing Issue 23

The idea for this issue started at the Housing Works Bookstore in New York City. At the one-dollar cart, where the undervalued and damaged books are put for sale, Bette Howland’s memoir, W-3, was discovered. A search for the author first led to numerous dead ends, then to her son, a cache of unpublished work, and a safe-deposit box in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with postcards and letters from a forty-year correspondence with Saul Bellow.

The 2016 APS Emerging Writer Fellowships

News October 1, 2015

We are pleased to announce that applications are now open for our 2016 Emerging Writer Fellowships.

The Blade Sharpener

Diary Jai Chakrabarti July 7, 2015

Whenever I visit Kolkata, India, the city of my birth, nostalgia follows me through the streets. I notice which of the older buildings have become new malls, which of the sweet shops known for their condensed milk squares have now been replaced by modern confectionaries or worse, a Baskin-Robbins, which of the old cow-claimed roads have been cleared to make room for apartments. My travel journals are full of these observations and the memories that come with them.


News June 15, 2015

Throughout the summer and into the fall, we will be distributing postcards at various bookstores, performance venues, and cultural institutions around Brooklyn asking people to document a public space in the borough on a 4" x 6" canvas. Here is what we've received so far.

Reviving Maria d’Arezzo, Presidentessa Dada

Stet? Olivia E. Sears April 23, 2015

Translation may be the invisible art, but the translator's mission is precisely to bring visibility to a work of literature, and at times to rescue an author from obscurity. This is especially true when translating Italian women writers of the past who struggled for visibility even within their own culture.

On Colin Barrett’s “Stand Your Skin”

APS Classic Belinda McKeon March 31, 2015

Let’s start the morning and kill the day, says one of the teenage characters in Colin Barrett’s “Stand Your Skin.” The drink doesn’t help, thinks his central character, an anxious, life-ravaged young man nicknamed Bat, but it does help.

I wish it were otherwise, but if there are two lines that get more precisely at the grim reality of what life is like for large swathes of young people in present-day, recession-pulverized small-town Ireland, I’ve yet to read them. Bat spends his...

The 2015 Emerging Writer Fellows

News February 10, 2015

We are thrilled to announce our 2015 Emerging Writer Fellows: Jai Chakrabarti, Cornelius FitzPatrick, and Arinze Ifeakandu. We would also like to thank all of the writers who submitted manuscripts, the readers who spent the past eight weeks evaluating, debating, and championing applications, and the National Endowment for the Arts for its generous support of the program.

Supporting new writers has been an essential part of A Public Space since our debut issue—Leslie Jamison, Nam Le, and Jesmyn Ward published their first stories in the magazine—and with the Emerging Writer Fellowships, which are now in their second year, we look to continue this tradition by seeking out writers who have not yet published a book-length work but whose writing shows exceptional talent.

On Charles D’Ambrosio’s “The Dead Fish Museum”

APS Classic Leslie Jamison November 12, 2014

“The Dead Fish Museum” starts with a key that doesn’t work, presented to a motel clerk whose face is visible “through a circle in the slab of glass, cut like a hole in ice.” It’s a story full of people trapped—trapped by need or trauma or loneliness, trapped inside the stifling confines of a hastily erected porn set: “They’d boarded shut the windows and now, with fumes of fresh paint filling the warehouse, Ramage felt woozy.” Ramage is the guy who runs the carpentry crew. He...

A Letter from Leslie Jamison

Letter Leslie Jamison October 23, 2014

Hello Readers,

I’m sitting in Slottsparken, in Oslo—on the stone steps in front of the Royal Palace, in the shadow of a looming bronze king on his looming bronze horse—and I’m thinking about public spaces, how they summon an inadvertent gathering stripped of intention or annotation: a young artist in Converse high-tops holds a baguette in one hand and a splattered canvas in the other; an elderly couple strides by in matching sunglasses, still holding hands after however-many years; a group of children convulses collectively around the fact of a tiny toffee-colored dog; a woman bends over to reach her arm down into a garbage can.

Public spaces gather individual stories into passing relation, and A Public Space gives us glimpses into these private infinities, the engines of desire and fear that might drive them. A Public Space notices the world—in all of its particulars, their odd collection—and delivers this world to us. It makes room for joy—that little toffee dog!—and perpetuity—those sunglasses, those gripping hands. It makes room for strangers and mysteries and necessity; it’s not afraid to include the woman who sticks her hand into the trash. In one recent issue, Ander Monson speculates: “perhaps it’s not too late to rehabilitate your heart, the echo chamber of your voice,” and I think it’s fair to say A Public Space has become a recurring echo chamber: each issue conducting a collection of voices into chorus.

It feels right to write about A Public Space far away from its home on Dean Street, in Brooklyn, because it has always loved roaming far and wide. In its pages you’ll find a Zimbabwean coffin maker and a makeshift outdoor gym in Beijing, a Buenos Aires neighborhood with streets named after famous women, and a glossary of Antarctica slang. (Degomble: to shake the hardened snow from one’s hair).

My own history with A Public Space began in 2006, when I was temping at a large bank in midtown Manhattan—a windowless room full of cubicles, a decidedly un-public space—and the magazine decided to publish one of my stories. It was my first publication anywhere. Hearing that someone actually liked my writing enough to publish it was like a sudden swell of wind. It gave me faith in something beyond the cubicle.

One of the most singular and spectacular things about A Public Space has always its commitment to unknown authors: almost every issue introduces someone who has never been in print. It’s a magazine committed to discovery: to discovering new voices, new places, new layers of feeling and experience.

Years later, under the northern sun of Oslo, far from those dim Midtown cubicles, I’m writing these words to you—you, who are probably a stranger to me, unless you are my mother, who has been a faithful subscriber to A Public Space since 2006 (hi mom!). I’m sitting in a park full of infinite human lives and thinking about communities of readers and writers as public spaces of another kind, and I’m thinking that perhaps, if you have read some of the same words as I, you are not entirely a stranger after all.

It’s precisely this kinship—faceless but not soulless, this kinship of bodies turning the pages and hearts receiving them—that A Public Space has made possible for the past eight years.

With your support, we can keep dwelling in this kind of public space for years to come. Please think about helping to make it possible.

Thank you,
Leslie Jamison

P.S. Contributions at any level help to make A Public Space possible, but if you’re able to make a donation at the $100 level, you’ll receive a signed copy of Issue 3, with Leslie Jamison’s debut story, “Quiet Men.” Donors at the $250 level will also receive a signed copy of her essay collection, The Empathy Exams, which received the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize and was a New York Times best seller this year. CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

Thank you for being a part of A Public Space.

On Dorthe Nors’s “Karate Chop”

APS Classic Daniel Woodrell October 22, 2014

To read a Dorthe Nors story is to enter a dream and become subject to its logic. Though her voice is subtly modulated, even cool, cerebral, you immediately feel pulled into a consciousness that is somehow off-kilter and quietly, darkly disturbed. Sometimes her characters seem merely odd, but somewhere along the way the merely is lost and the odd quality becomes stunningly human. Her wonderful collection, Karate Chop, is an exemplar of this compact artistry. You pass through her narrative,...

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