The Autism Talk by Nazli Kibria

“Five more minutes, then we get out and change our clothes,” I repeat twice. Shomik alternates between dog paddling and flipping himself in the water. I revel at his ease and imagine the sensation of respite, of weightlessness in a heavy world. Shumita, his sister, a first grader, plunges to collect plastic frogs and goldfish at the bottom of the pool.  “Mermaid treasures,” she yells jubilantly, “look Shomik, I got a red frog.” Soaking in the warm, silky blue illuminated water feels luxurious. Outside, there is dirty slippery slush and a frigid wind that ices my hair.  Twice a week…

Sundown on Sunset Blvd.

by Allison Scagliotti I remember when Tower Records shuttered for good. Gen Xers wept openly, bemoaning the death of their community locus. Too young to have integrated into a scene of my own, I wondered what my version of this loss might be one day. My view from the minivan passenger seat was as much about deciphering the L.A. in which I’d eventually be turned loose as it was navigating from valley apartment to casting call, Thomas Guide open on my lap. Now, after twenty years as a certified Angeleno, the city of my youth fades from existence the way…

Interview: Melissa Febos talks to The Coachella Review

By Jackie DesForges Somehow my conversation with Melissa Febos has drifted from cuddle parties to crime fiction. Febos is one of my feminist icons, and crime fiction hasn’t had the most progressive track record as far as fiction genres are concerned, so I’m surprised we’ve ended up here—and besides, we are supposed to be talking about Girlhood, her new collection of essays. But when the topic naturally begins to shift, I tell her—nervously—that I’m writing a crime novel. She tells me—excitedly—that crime is one of her favorite genres to read, but there is a caveat: “I need the writing to…

Photo Essay: Near & Far

When California locked down last March to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the physical world seemed to shrink overnight. To contain the virus, we were instructed not to travel unless we were frontline workers. Many of us were confined to our homes.

Book Review: Grand

by Collin Mitchell In her memoir Grand, writer and comedian Sara Schaefer reflects on her childhood and career by way of a river trip through the Grand Canyon that she took in celebration of her fortieth birthday. “The Canyon will take you apart and put you back together again,” she writes, reflecting on the promise a “bucket-listy” adventure like white water rafting makes to its often anxious enlistees. Schaefer readily admits she is one of them. “Maybe down there I could find answers. I wasn’t even sure of the questions, but in that moment I wanted to believe.” In Grand,…

Book Review: Too Much and Never Enough

by Rachel Zarrow According to psychologist and author Mary L. Trump, child abuse is “the experience of ‘too much’ or ‘not enough’.” In her recent memoir of a similar name, Too Much and Never Enough, Mary Trump, the president’s niece, describes the multi-generational cycle of emotional abuse in the Trump family that contributed to the development of Donald Trump’s persona. In the prologue, she writes, “I have no problem calling Donald a narcissist—he meets all of the nine criteria as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)—but the label only gets us so far.” She speculates…

Extraction

By Paulla Rich Estes Unlatching Dinah’s red leash, I follow her along the chain-link fence that wraps a rectangle around acres of yuccas, piñons, and patches of pale grass rooted in sand. Dinah sniffs a spot where flora has been cleared to create a path and her canine brain logs previous visitors that stopped to pee here, here, and here. A frigid April wind ripples off New Mexico’s Jemez Mountains and I zip up my jacket to my chin. Tears sting my eyes because of the horizon I can see no matter which way I turn. It’s why I came…

TCR Talks with Joe Meno

by Matt Ellis It’s a presidential election year, a time when we are bombarded by political hot button issues from every social and mainstream media outlet with superficial sound bites that often offer little substance but ask us to take sides nonetheless. Immigration ranks among the top. If you want to be better informed about the immigration issue, you need look no further than bestselling author Joe Meno’s debut nonfiction book, Between Everything and Nothing: The Journey of Seidu Mohammed and Razak Iyal and the Quest for Asylum. Meno is a fiction writer and journalist who lives in Chicago. He is the winner…

Oyster Virgin

by Tom  Zompakos The oyster is the world’s ugliest treat. It’s a chipped up and dirty seashell shaped like a human ear. Inside the shell lies a phlegm-yellow lump. I’m gigging as a fixer (a driver and local guide) for an effervescent editor of Physiocrat magazine named Rosie. Oysters can clean and filter two gallons of seawater in an hour, she tells me. I love slurping down a heavily-used Brita filter, I answer. I’m a journalism major, and Rosie is incredible at my least favorite part of the job: pulling strangers aside to talk to them. We’ve been rustling up…

A Twist

by Mary Higbee

My sister Nancy and I have become used to answering the door to strangers. Since arriving a week ago, people we don’t know have shown up bearing sympathy cards, plates of cookies, and casseroles. They also brought a story or two to tell us about some adventure they had shared with my father.

But today we are too busy to welcome callers. The severe winter storm predicted to descend in twenty-four hours has shortened our time for being in Arkansas. Noon tomorrow is our deadline for starting homeward if we hope to stay ahead of the bad weather. My husband, sister, niece, and I are down to hours to get the house ready to close up and for each of us to pack the chosen keepsakes we are taking.