Tag Archive: Boston Review

Stories to Read Online in July



For whatever beach, balcony or sweaty train you’re on today, some proper hot stories for the start of summer in these new summer issues:

About Her and the Memories that Belong to Her by Mieko Kawakami in Granta Online

Kawakami is a new discovery for me this month. The little prologue to this story is itself a stunning piece.

“If we think of our memories as having a shape, then one possibility is that they come in the shape of a box. I know that this is not entirely an original idea, but that doesn’t make it untrue,” the prologue begins. It’s a beautifully and confidently abstract beginning to a surprisingly specific, grounded story, set at the narrator’s middle school reunion, where she is shocked to learn that an old classmate of hers has died and struggles to remember why the girl is so significant to her.

Dole Girl by Barbara Hamby in the Boston Review

Rightly selected as the winner of the Aura Estrada contest 2015, this story feels so true and surrounding, even though I have absolutely no experience of a Hawaian pineapple canning factory. In fact, you can almost taste the pineapples. A ripe, vivid sense of time and place, plus a compelling character with a burning desire is a winning combination. This story has both in excess. It’s a real lesson in voice, too; the voice of our “Dole Girl” is strong, youthful, naive and streetwise at the same time, making me wish I could read a whole novel of it.

Taxidermy by Vladislava Kolosova in Ploughshares

Set in after-dark Moscow, this is an unsettling story about a young woman who has started having sex for money, to help pay for her studies. One night, she’s picked up by a charismatic, authoritative “New Russian” called Eva who buys a night with her and takes her home to her quiet, boxer-like husband. Like all good shorts, Taxidermy plants its real lightbulb moments just left of center. After the sex, after the drama, the quiet moment gives this story its edge.

My Life by Chantal Clarke in N+1

This is a terrifying but profoundly funny little story. We are tricked by the narrator at first, as in plain childlike language, she describes the bare bones of her life, “I HAVE A HOUSE, and it’s great. My money bought it, so it’s mine. I love to live in it,” she begins. But she reveals after a while, and with glee, that she’s really “Predator 923,” a drone who is “writing simply so you’ll trust me.” Be warned, this story might make you want to try all kinds of weird stuff in your work.

Congregation by Christopher Alessandrini in the Harvard Advocate

A little treat from a magazine very close to my heart. This story follows a girl working at a summer camp. From the outside, she seems to be on the brink of something, some beginning of real life, but to her, the world of the camp and the array of girls and boys that form her camp society, is its own special kind of real life. Searing sharp human observation meets beautiful lines describing the architecture, natural and otherwise of “Link’s Seafood & Bait” where the camp is situated: “Out by the sheds, the bulrush swells with frog song and birds, whip-thin plovers and orioles halving through the stalk like light on water, all that good gossip and whisper.”

What are your reading recommendations for July?

Literary Picks of the Web – January 2015

Patryk Sobczak

In the middle of a blizzard is the perfect time to catch up with the new offerings of literary places online. There are some cracking new digital issues out this month, and here are our picks:

What Happened to the Bird People by Monique Wentzel in Boston Review

The story centres around a mysterious “sinkhole,” discovered one night in a neighbourhood in Lubbock, Texas. As the bottomless hole grows, it swallows whole houses and effects the neighbourhood in wideranging, unpredictable ways. Then the birds arrive… The way the author conjures the community, the media and the military, and the strange transformation of the landscape into one where birds and citizens are caught up together in a mythic new existence, is ambitious, dreamy stuff.

Air Schooner Episode 48: War Portfolio

This audio episode of popular mag Prairie Schooner includes Edwardo Halfon reading from his story “The Lady in the Red Coat,” and Martha Silano reading her poem “Distressed Boyfriend Khaki’s.” Eduardo Halfon’s story is intensely personal, describing an important figure in his life, the woman in the red coat, an unlikely member of the guerilla that kidnapped his grandfather. Hear Halfon decribe this background and his urge to put together the fragments of his family’s real story.

Match by Kristen Keckler in Literary Juice

A sweet twist on the how-we-met anecdote in this piece of flash from Literary Juice. Keckler describes the simple details that form couples’ first attraction, the first details that persuade two people of their suitability for each other. “He’d read the latest DiLilo novel she had on her coffee table, and they’d both gone to college upstate,” her narrator recalls. Simple, and compelling storytelling.

Squirrel Trouble at Uplands by Castle Freeman Jr. in New England Review

This story follows Else the night she leaves her boyfriend, a cop with a possessive hold on her and a gun by his bed. She goes to stay at her sister’s unused house in the country, called Uplands, where her only company, apart from her sister’s nightly phonecalls, is the band of squirrels that inhabits the roof. As Else gets used to this temporary new life, the presence and absence of danger forms her landscape, and the writer does an excellent job of guiding our experience towards an uneasy ending.

Love and Fiction Part 1 by Sigrid Nunez in Little Star Weekly

I just discovered this lovely magazine. Little Star. For just 1.99, you can purchase a weekly – it’s a really easy and inexpensive way to support new fiction and fill your head with intriguing new stories every week. The first part of this story by Sigrid Nunez is touching, honest and observant, showing a young girl’s distress when a big-eared boy from school starts wooing her by riding his bicycle outside her house. I’m really looking forward to reading the next part.

What are your picks of the month so far? Tweet us your recommendations!

Image: Patryk Sobczak