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A Public Space

No. 01

The Debut Issue! Marilynne Robinson's argument for fiction; Charles D'Ambrosio's dead fish museum; Kelly Link's origin story; Lucy Raven digs a hole to China; Antoine Wilson eavesdrops; Ian Chillag on the Buffalo Creek flood; John Haskell on Bertolt Brecht; Peter Orner on Anton Chekhov; poems by Peter Gizzi, Katia Kapovich, Melissa Monroe, and others; Japan: America Inverted, a Focus portfolio; and introducing Tim O'Sullivan.

Table of Contents



Letter from the Editor

Over the course of the past year, the recurring debate over the value of fiction seems to have intensified. Why do we read it? Why do we write it? Does it still matter?

Brigid Hughes


If You See Something

Gob Damned

Chances are, if you lived in southern West Virginia in the middle of the twentieth century, my grandfather had his hands on you, either on your way in or your way out.

Ian Chillag


If You See Something

In Boca

Hungry from travel, we hit the hotel restaurant.

Antoine Wilson


If You See Something

Inspired by a True Story

“Every journalist who is not too stupid or too full of himself to notice what is going on knows that what he does is morally indefensible.”

Rick Moody


If You See Something

And the Women Are Tutsi

Hope Azeda is a beautiful woman.

Anna Deavere Smith



The Dead Fish Museum

“This key isn’t working,” Ramage said.

Charles D’Ambrosio



Origin Story

“Dorothy Gale,” she said.

Kelly Link



Two Poems

A child glanced up at her father and they named that Buttercup.

Matthea Harvey




My CV would be incomplete without mention / of this Russian kid with the Down syndrome / whom I taught English.

Katia Kapovich



Two Poems

You may wonder about the name of this city we are weaving through by tram, whatever city it is we are in.

Michael Palmer



Two Poems

The whiz is dying. / Seems like no one's interested / in nailing a hide.

Melissa Monroe



Two Poems

His brains was exceeding capricious, anxious / corpuscular

Jeremy Glazier



Two Poems

Here comes Thelonious weather, all elbows and knees

Michael Morse



Three Poems

Might words like relish, savor, endure be a way to end the year?

Eamon Grennan



A Panic that Can Still Come Upon Me

If today and today I am calling aloud / If I break into pieces of glitter on asphalt

Peter Gizzi



No Light

You find yourself in Act II of Three Sisters.

Peter Orner




The Life of Galileo by Bertolt Brecht was first performed in 1947 at a theater on La Cienega Boulevard, and Charles Laughton played the role of the famous scientist.

John Haskell



An Illustrated Guide to Copper Extraction

A closer look at one of the two manmade locations on earth astronauts can see from the moon (and a few things it has to do with the other).

Lucy Raven



Family Friend

You haven’t been invited inside that house for three years because Sarah—and she mentions this often to Edgar—doesn’t like the way you look at their girls.

Tim O’Sullivan



Focus: Japan—America Inverted

In the early eighties, my Japanese grandfather, a poet named Ikuro Saeki, sent me an LP by a Japanese trio called The Yellow Magic Orchestra.

Roland Kelts



Look, Here’s America: Part One

Well, we didn’t grow up to love who we are. We always wanted to become something else.

Roland Kelts



Look, Here’s America: Part Two

Haruki Murakami on Salinger, The Great Gatsby, and Why American Readers Sometimes Miss the Point

Haruki Murakami



The Maiden in the Manger

With this trip looming over him, it was only natural that he should feel anxious about oversleeping.

Kazushige Abe



Masaya Nakahara: Interview

I mean, I never cared about prestige. I was much more concerned with making money.

Justin Simon



Bloody Self-Portrait of a Beast

“Your play about the young aspiring boxer is getting glowing reviews, isn’t it? My sincere congratulations.”

Masaya Nakahara




Sometimes I ask myself: How many swimming pools have I encountered throughout my life?

Yoko Ogawa



You Need Not Doubt What I Say Because It Is Not True

We know that humankind has sat around its fires from time immemorial and told its tales, and told them again, elaborating and refining.

Marilynne Robinson

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