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Magazine



A Public Space

No. 10

Spring 2010

The Chinese Chekhov: the letters of Shen Congwen; Yiyun Li on kindness; Tim O'Sullivan's Father Olufemi; Mary-Beth Hughes's widow of Combarelles; Samanta Schweblin's brother Walter; David Potter's Dr. Kreutzer; Lawrence Weschler on Alec Soth's Las Vegas birthday party; Jenny Davidson, Graham Foust, Paul Glimcher, and Amy Leach on tomorrow; and poems by Cynthia Lowen, Jennifer Moxley, Ed Roberson, John Yau, and more.

 

Table of Contents



 

If You See Something

All Came to an End

In 1931, in the throes of the Great Depression, Grant Wood made a chronological list of thirteen prior economic depressions, beginning with 1819.

Grant Wood


 

If You See Something

To the New Year

Comes upon and at me / does your gone-tinged promise.

Graham Foust


 

If You See Something

Donkey Derby

Usually all we have to do when we go a-conquering is to build a boat, find a benefactress, recruit a ribald crew, and wear radiant glinting helmets.

Amy Leach


 

If You See Something

Rachet Rachet Rachet

I’m sure I’ll take you with pleasure!” the Queen said.

Jenny Davidson


 

If You See Something

Whose Fault Is It?

Since the time of Descartes, Westerners have seen their core identity as a feature that stands apart from the physical world.

Paul Glimcher


 

Fiction

The Woman Who Lived in the House

He learned of Sergei’s arrest and imprisonment when a waiter switched the television to CNN.

Salvatore Scibona


 

Fiction

Father Olufemi

There seemed to be a fellow feeling between the priest and bus driver, each too slight for his uniform.

Tim O’Sullivan


 

Fiction

My Brother Walter

My brother Walter is depressed.

Samanta Schweblin


 

Art

Las Vegas Birthday Book

My wife took me to Las Vegas to celebrate my fortieth birthday.

Alec Soth


 

Feature

On Alec Soth’s Las Vegas Birthday Book

Alec Soth’s spare volume of documentation culminates in that deliciously inspired last-minute stab at monetary redemption.

Lawrence Weschler


 

Fiction

The Widow of Combarelles

Patty promised her old friend Coren she had the very best cure for heartache: the shrewd and pitiless French.

Mary-Beth Hughes


 

Fiction

Dr. Kreutzer

At night, alone in the greenhouse, Dr. Kreutzer listens to Bach.

David Potter


 

Poetry

Think Your Way Out of the Rain

I got to meet my heroes / and have dinner with them

Matthew Rohrer


 

Poetry

Two Poems

In that part of the field / near the woodpile / had arisen an indistinct figure, / like a deeper blotch / in the evening darkness, / a seeming dog flying over the roofs.

Giampiero Neri


 

Poetry

Parable of the Children

If it is better to be feared / than loved, best of all / pitied—obeyed not out of threat / but an understanding / the inability to harm / makes benevolence / a moot point.

Cynthia Lowen


 

Poetry

Bidwell Park

When the previously withheld faces grew tough as flax / or softened into pliant pine in the umber wood, inclined / together, numerous, when the cobble crushed underfoot, / and pistachios cracked in their shells, grown heavy, / grown consummate among the nibs of leaves, then curious / seemed the stars, those nether eyes which scrutinized / each shape that stirred against the unlit trunks of trees.

D.A. Powell


 

Poetry

Psalm Made of Silk

The psalm is a door / that tears me.

Christopher Janke


 

Poetry

Staying

No more the lovely ease of it all, / and many years removed / from those languorous afternoons / where, together, they seemed / to create their own air

Stephen Dunn


 

Poetry

Two Poems

Behind the hill / overlooking our tiny enclave / dwells a giant known far and wide

John Yau


 

Poetry

Two Trees

Wintering Beech / Tabernacle of green light green shade, summer space / of beechen green and shadows numberless, / that’s now but a bony show of itself, all its / ornaments and nest-hiding glad rags / wind-torn and let go where silence opens / its stony arms.

Eamon Grennan


 

Poetry

Each Gets So Shamefully Little

Each gets so shamefully little, only half a face, honed to a fine point, like swallow shadows dipping after mosquitoes

Mary Crow


 

Poetry

Not That, Disappointment

I am inappropriate I feel it / in every said thing in every / enthusiasm desire wish / but mostly in every / unsettling ambition

Jennifer Moxley


 

Poetry

Moon Jar, Century Unclear

Part of the pearlescent surface is gone / from the glass back to sand

Ed Roberson


 

Poetry

Two Poems

The turrets, self-conscious and vulgar, / the doors, so functional, / the tinted windows, lovely and perhaps unreasonable.

James Schuyler


 

Fiction

Kindness

I am a forty-one-year-old woman living by myself, in the same one-bedroom flat where I have always lived, in a derelict building on the outskirts of Beijing that is threatened to be demolished by government-backed real estate developers.

Yiyun Li


 

Feature

An Irrelevant Writer: Yiyun Li Introduces Shen Congwen

Great books are never abandoners—they don’t betray us; they don’t turn away from our candid admiration or criticism; they don’t die.

Shen Congwen


 

Feature

Letter to the Editor

The “historic” novel is, for me, condemned even in cases of labour as delicate as yours, to a fatal cheapness, for the simple reason that the difficulty of the job is inordinate and that a mere escamotage, in the interest of ease, and of the abysmal public naiveté becomes inevitable.

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