FEATURED | CRAFT / Artwork: Evening Shadows by F.R. Dane
Fiction at the Sentence Level
Elements of Craft in John Updike's “The Happiest I've Been”
by Sean Madden
I first read John Updike while standing at a crowded, downtown Los Angeles bus stop in November 2011. The story was “Natural Color,” a selection from Richard Ford’s Granta Book of the American Short Story: Volume Two.
At that time, I was busy reorienting my life around one particular ambition. I’d graduated from UC Berkeley in the spring of 2010 determined to become a professional fiction writer. Now I was ready to dedicate myself to the task.
Between graduation and the fall of 2011, I’d given up. I’d given up after getting ahead of myself and failing to achieve what I’d set out to do. I’d let the publication of the first short story I’d ever written, in the University of California’s student-run literary arts magazine, convince me that any top-tier Master of Fine Arts program would be thrilled to accept my application. When this fantasy didn’t play out—I applied to programs in the fall of 2010, and was rejected by them all—I felt like the butt of a cruel joke. I was so heartbroken, actually, and disappointed in myself, that I quit writing. I quit reading fiction, too. I no longer believed I had what it took to succeed as a writer. I came to regard the publication of my story in Matchbox Magazine as a fluke. My professors and peers at Berkeley who’d acknowledged my talent were guilty of mere flattery.
FEATURED | CREATIVE NONFICTION / Artwork: Arno Reflections: Florence by Joshua Windsor | on Instagram @josh.michael.windsor
Diamonds in the Light
by Eddie P. Gomez
Florence, Italy • Summer 2013
Somewhere over Spain, I’m sitting between two fascinating young people on a plane ride home from Italy. I'd call them kids, but they’re both adults living in the real world. The three of us struck up a conversation spontaneously as soon as the plane taxied toward the runway. We were laughing comfortably within minutes of meeting each other, sharing quick versions of our personal stories in that uninhibited way strangers do when they know they’ll never see each other again.
—SIX SMALL POEMS—
After Alexej Jawlensky
by Karen Holden
Young Girl, 1915 by Karen Holden There are eyes upside down behind my mouth, another brow beneath my chin. We are all like this: who we are painted over who we were Speech silenced, dead to smell they could not take away our eyes those reflecting pools in our faces: dark mud, red blood, blue sky Or those curtained, but open still, inside