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A Public Space

No. 03

Battlegrounds Real and Fiction: a portfolio on Peru by Daniel Alarcón with Santiago Roncagliolo, Miguel Gutiérrez, Julio Durán, and others; Sam Stephenson buys Eugene Smith's sink; Nora Krug illustrates the life of World War II Japanese soldier Hiro Onoda; new stories by Martha Cooley, Jonathan Lethem, and Keith Lee Morris; poems by Anne Carson, Wislawa Szymborska, Robyn Schiff, Eugene Ostashevsky, and others; and introducing Leslie Jamison.

Table of Contents


If You See Something

Gene Smith’s Sink

The wooden light board, with ground glass, that I bought from Pat Smith is an interesting antique, but I don’t know what I’m going to do with the sink.

Sam Stephenson


If You See Something

In Passing

Veronica De Jesus


If You See Something

When Animals Conspire

Let me begin by telling you how I learned that I sleep with my mouth open.

Ben Ehrenreich


If You See Something

A Wolf That Knows Enough to Keep Its Distance

Night is a wolf that knows enough to keep its distance. —Robert Kelly

David Levi Strauss




I’d been sitting there in the courtroom all day, looking at the back of people’s heads, mostly Andy Munson’s.

Keith Lee Morris



The Month Girls

I once worked in the word-processing pool of a large, unremarkable business.

Martha Cooley



The Night they First Played Monster Eyes

The first chords, chunks of noise, rebound in the gulch of buildings.

Jonathan Lethem



Never Give Up!

The life of Hiro Onoda, soldier.

Nora Krug



Zeus Bits

How everyone thinks him a happy-go-lucky guy.

Anne Carson



Two Poems

In a universe renowned for its simplicity / Composed, as it was, of P and –P / There lived a philosopher who became a painter

Eugene Ostashevsky



Two Poems

It’s not what you think. / It’s what you think you think / that escapes you. 

​Suzanne Buffam



An Aching Young Man

An aching young / man on the street / approaches, stops / me with his eyes / and saying Sir?

Reginald Gibbons



The Old Professor

I asked him about the old days / when we were still so young / naive, hot-headed, silly, green.

Wislawa Szymborska



Scenes of Hell

We did not have the benefit of a guide, / no crone to lead us off the common path, / no ancient to point the way with a staff

Billy Collins



The Emperor’s Journey to Shu

There is the emperor’s question / which is after / the question of happiness

John Taggart



Lustron: America’s Prefabricated Home

Room for all our sons.

Robyn Schiff



Quiet Men

He was a poet who worked with intricate forms—villanelles and pantoums—but during our month together he spoke quite simply.

Leslie Jamison



Battlegrounds Real and Fictional

In 1980, there were many reasons to be optimistic about the future of Peru, most significantly, the restoration of democracy after twelve years of military dictatorship.

Daniel Alarcón



To Burn the City

On shelves and in drawers, in trunks and boxes, my grandmother hid the artifacts of her old house

Julio Durán



The Complicity of Silence

Many Peruvian authors, critics, and readers are of the opinion that there is no common literary project uniting young Peruvian writers.

Santiago Roncagliolo



Photos from the Land of Light (País De Luz)

In 1986, Thomas J. Müller and Helga Müller-Hebron proposed a series of photography workshops through the School of Science and Communication Arts at Catholic University in Peru for campesinos and residents of the marginal neighborhoods springing up on the outskirts of the cities.

Workshop for Social Photography



Deep Black Holes: An Interview with Miguel Gutiérrez

Miguel Gutiérrez  published his first novel, El Viejo Saurio se retira, in 1969; his second novel, La violencia del tiempo, wasn’t published until 1991.

Juan Miguel Chávez



The House on El Pino Hill

The curtains are half closed over the small, barred window.

Óscar Colchado Lucio



In the Belly of the Night

Ubilluz’s boots sunk into the mud with a dull thud that neither of them paid any attention to.

José de Piérola



Everything is Illuminated: My Love Affair with CSI

Forget its telegenic cast: the real star of CSI is Luminol.

Delia Falconer

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