Shopping Cart


A Public Space

No. 11

Mercè Rodoreda at Carnival; Francis Spufford on the Soviets and the story of an idea; Stephen Burt on new American poets; Julian Gough explains how to fall in love properly; Geoffrey G. O'Brien catalogs three years; Annie Coggan makes a home for Ulysses Grant, and Rachel Cohen takes a tour; Allan Gurganus's Lair and Refuge; Ian Chillag, Maud Casey, Brian T. Edwards, and Aviya Kushner on laughter; and reintroducing Charles Newman.

Table of Contents


If You See Something

Falling and Laughing

Comic writers laugh at the folly of humanity (“Poor, sufferin’ Hugh Mannity,” as Flann O’Brien put it).

Julian Gough


If You See Something

Wanting to Be a Fact

In Max Frisch’s strange and beautiful little novel Man in the Holocene, an old man named Geiser is trapped in his home in an Alpine valley in southern Switzerland by the collapse of a supporting wall that blocks the highway to the tiny village.

Maud Casey


If You See Something

You Had to be There

No one jokes with me when I go to Tehran.

Brian T. Edwards


If You See Something

I’m Not Crazy About That Part

One of my biggest fears is that I will die because I have talked too much.

Aviya Kushner


If You See Something

I Was a Microagent of the Body Guard

Red blood cell. For twenty-five years, every time I’ve heard or read the term, I’ve thought of Arby Sea.

Ian Chillag



How to Fall in Love Properly

Slowed a little by a stone in my shoe, I arrived in Galway City a while after dark. Galway City, the Sodom of the West!

Julian Gough



Julia Grant’s Opera Shawl and All That it Suggests

The Grants moved into a brownstone on East Sixty-sixth Street—financed by the general's supporters—in 1881.

Annie Coggan



Interiors and Exteriors in the Life of Julia Grant

The house at 3 East Sixty-sixth Street was the third from the end in the Grants’ lives together.

Rachel Cohen



Three Years

Toying with a gun as a train goes past / June is what I’d imagined, dark / intermittent woods set off / by the whiteness of a collar, a book / I can’t believe we’re left alone with.

Geoffrey G. O’Brien



The Dentist’s Chair

On the morning of his ex-wife’s appointment, Kenneth Rivers still owed her an RSVP.

D. Wystan Owen



On New American Poets

Poems routinely solicit—they may even include outright—generalizations about everything from barbecue methods to categorical imperatives, but they raise special puzzles, or paradoxes, when they solicit generalizations about themselves, since good poems try to be as unlike one another as possible.

Stephanie Burt



The Old Testament

This is the book of three diseases.

Jericho Brown



Small Philosophies

Now the fever root, / the marsh weed, the marigold.

Jennifer Chang




Incandescent, black body / your soul is on the floor.

Arda Collins



I Was Married and You’re Supposed To

Do you think everything you’re supposed to think?

​Katie Degentesh



Anything You Want

My living brother / is treating us to dinner.

Matthew Dickman




The beautiful invisible music falling from the speakers in the other room / is Mahler imitating the snow

Michael Dickman



The Science of Parting

You’re a wet thing in my throat: oyster.

​Carmen Giménez Smith



Praise Song for the Donkey

Praise the Mohawk roof / of the donkey’s good & grey head

​Aracelis Girmay




The ice encases the branches / of trees as if beauty can just.

Jennifer Kronovet



Gun Show

The earliest writing in Golden City / left turn-signal sensors / trafficking / in Variegated Solomon’s Seal

David Lau




(April 3) / Not often is it that I grace / my own eyes

Chris Martin



No Vehicles Beyond This Point

Tape unspools from a cassette, / collects—a nest—between two / pieces of driftwood

Joseph Massey



From Film Two

I don’t know a thing about paradise || In my house nobody ever brought it up

Anna Moschovakis



From Block Chapel

the way orchestra sounds in birmingham / that’s my sound.

Fred Moten




I was lost before I returned.

Meghan O’Rourke



Heart Set: The Antique Sun

Having fixed the typewriter, / eaten the oranges and eggs / the house’s owner left, I sat / at the white table and tried to tend / to the need for deepening sacrifice / without upsetting my urge / for everything to be responsible / and pure.

Zach Savich



Lair and Refuge: I Work at Home

Imagine a happier Miss Havisham.

Allan Gurganus



Ecorche (Flayed Man)

The Collector—wearing an oilcloth hat, overcoat, and soaking-wet boots, slogged through rain, a fish-shaped basket of gray willow sealed by a flap of leather across his shoulders.

Melissa Pritchard



On Charles Newman

The 1970s were Charles Newman’s decade.

Joy Williams



Blues for Charlie

A decade ago, I was Charles Newman’s student in St. Louis. A celebrated novelist came through that fall to read a list of current faculty when she stopped at a name. “Newman? Charles Newman?” she said. “God, he’s an icon.” By the time I came into his life, he drank too much and ate too little.

Paul Winner



The Five-Thousandth Baritone: A Masque in Five Parts

All that we know definitely about Purcell’s history as a choirboy is that his voice broke in 1673... beyond that lies the territory of invention.

Charles Newman



Midsummer Night, 1962

It had all taken longer than it needed to, of course.

Francis Spufford

Subscribe to A Public Space

New subscriptions start with A Public Space No. 31, and include three issues of the magazine.

Subscriber benefits include

  • Access to the magazine's online archive, with over a decade of award-winning work
  • Exclusive offers and discounts

Sign up for A Public Space's Newsletter