New Fiction by David M. Rubin

 

The Steiner Papers

Thanks to the ultra-precise grid set by the surveyor John Randel, New York was a Euclidian construct, though not at the edges where Backman Steiner walked north along the East River between X and Y Street. He cut in towards the meat of the city on a street working out from the river at an oblique angle; obtuse or acute based on which direction he faced. Amazingly, he found himself about fourteen blocks out of his way, like an electron blasted from metal by a photon. The hot cement slow-roasted his feet like chestnuts as his soles had worn thin months ago.

Free Will, by William Kitcher

1

She returned home and, as usual, put her keys on the hall table and walked to the back of the house carrying a book she had just bought, to the study, where, as usual, he was sitting at his computer, writing.

He turned and smiled, and went back to his writing. She kissed him on the top of his head, squeezed his shoulders lightly, then flopped onto the sofa.

He looked at her again, and smiled with recognition at her predictable and comforting way of stretching out on the sofa, book in hand. She smiled back at him and opened the book.

Spiral Staircases, or It Pays to Reread

Up in the mountains a man wrote a novel. It was set by the sea, about a woman who wrote plays, mostly about poets. The novel focused on one play in particular, about a fine young poet who, as a side-gig of sorts, cooked dreams down by the harbor and sold them for two bits, or a smile, whichever came first.

It was a catastrophe!! The novel, the play, the dream cooking, the works!!

It was as if the whole sleepy harbor town had conspired against the dream chef. Rather than the usual sunshine and sweet nights indicated by his time-tested recipes, there was rain and rain and more rain.…

Donal Mahoney: New Short Fiction

Doing Laundry on a Farm in the Fifties

 

Grandma Gretchen’s in her rocker and she has something to say.

She tells a visitor, a young man from the city, if he plans to write a book about life on a farm in the Fifties, he likely has a lot to learn. She knows about that life because she was there. She says he needs to know about the little things as well as the big things if the book is going to be accurate.

For example, she says for him to understand that culture, he needs to know how laundry was done back then.…

The Letter

Response to a Letter Recently Received

Fiction by Donal Mahoney

 

Dear Margaret,

Your life as explained in your letter recently received is very difficult to read. It’s been 40 years since we last saw each other or talked. Most of your problems I knew nothing about. Bits and pieces I somehow became aware of over the years. One of your brothers or sisters may have mentioned something they had heard at Christmas or on Father’s Day, but they were as much in the dark as I was. We didn’t know where you were.

The cancer, of course, runs on my side of the family since it was colonic cancer that killed my mother at age 59.…

Purity

Purity, by Jonathan Franzen

I’m about 300 pages into Franzen’s new novel, Purity, and it’s truly hit its stride. It started out a little slowly for me, and I think he did too much telling, rather than showing, but readerly patience has paid off. At this point, and especially after his brilliant, almost ecstatic description of Pip’s sojourn in Bolivia, it’s more than clear that Franzen can build a compelling case for his world, its multiplicity of emotions, motives, betrayals and jealousies, and especially the internal twists and turns of his characters’ minds.

Even after 300 pages, it’s difficult to summarize the plot.…

Foundations

We have new poetry, fiction and a screenplay this month at Spinozablue. Donal Mahoney brings us the first two, while Charles Tarlton brings us the last.

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Speaking of film, Martin Scorcese pens a wonderful essay in the latest New York Review of Books, entitled The Persisting Vision: Reading the Language of Cinema.”

A short excerpt:

“Or consider the famous Stargate sequence from Stanley Kubrick’s monumental 2001: A Space Odyssey. Narrative, abstraction, speed, movement, stillness, life, death—they’re all up there. Again we find ourselves back at that mystical urge—to explore, to create movement, to go faster and faster, and maybe find some kind of peace at the heart of it, a state of pure being.

Donal Mahoney: The Deli on Granville

Patsy Foley Was Roly-Poly in 1947

 

It may have been the devil himself who prompted the kids in my schoolyard back in 1947 to chant “Patsy Foley’s roly-poly from eating too much ravioli.”

At first, no one could remember who started the chant. Patsy, a sweet and ample child, was in the third grade. As happenstance would have it, I was in that same third grade, infamous already as the only boy wearing spectacles in our class. After I got the glasses, I had three schoolyard fights in three days to prove to Larry Moore, Billy Gallagher and Fred Ham that I hadn’t changed a bit.…

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