by Candace Walsh
The ease in which
I fell asleep
against her chest
as she felt
my head’s weight
and the not-weight of my hair,
as it fanned across her skin
and spilled into her underarms’ dark silk.
I would stand waist-deep
within the gentled sea
as if it were my vast and rippling skirt
and sunlight my chemise.
Below my feet
a ballroom floor of glossy stones.
I’d trace the seaweed flumes
borne by the brine
fine-boned as hair
of black and rust and aubergine.
Rootless seaweed ...
Dear Mrs. Gunderson,
Please forgive the tardiness of my reply to your letter sent twenty-three years ago. I re-encountered it while going through my mother’s bedside table drawer. I emptied her walk-in closet in under an hour. The women’s shelter volunteer comes tomorrow to pick up six big black garbage bag sachets wafting tea rose and Comet.
Leave it to a little wicker drawer of ephemera to slow my progress. Birthday cards from her mother. My sparse stack of letters from college. And then an...
In The Family Chao, publishing today from W. W. Norton, Lan Samantha Chang presents a contemporary Midwestern family in fascinating crisis. I was fortunate to work with Sam in 2018 during the final semester of my MFA studies at Warren Wilson College. What a joy to reconnect recently and talk about craft from new angles: writing an homage, writing at different points in one’s life, as well as reckoning with patriarchs and the influences of early mentors.
The Chao family is led by a tyrannical ...
Hair is a lot of things to a lot of people. It can be lustrous, ringleted, blown out, windblown, extended, relaxed, permed, colored, ratted, knotty, braided, crimped, flipped, thinning, thinned-out, topknotted, cropped, and shorn. But at the beginning, middle, and end of the day, hair is dead. We walk around with dead stuff hanging from our living scalps.
Hair, as a fiction motif, is a memento mori. Not only is it dead, when it turns gray, it signals that we are closer to death. It falls out ...
Aging Out (an excerpt from the novel in progress Cleave)
Franks and beans, canned tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Tuna noodle casserole, served in a series of chipped plates and bowls. If she was the eldest child in a foster home, she cooked. If someone else was older than her, she didn’t have to, but would clear the table or sweep the floor. She noticed how lazy girls got the boot, unless they got by in other ways.
How many houses had she lived in before aging out? The thick file ...
By Candace Walsh •
Raven Leilani’s Luster is a craft and theme kaleidoscope, every turned page yielding a new configuration of angles and juxtapositions. What happens in this novel—twenty-three year old Edie, a Black woman artist manquée working slackly in low-level publishing, meets art conservator Eric, a middle-aged married white man from Milwaukee, who is in a newly open marriage; this leads to an enduring collision between Edie, Eric’s staggeringly competent coroner wife (also white) Reb...
The son I carried for (I know who she is but can’t say: hint hint, she’s winkingly Sapphic enough to quicken our pulses) is five, quarantining with Mum and her husband (harrumph) on their English estate, the article said she humbly admits to success with homemade crumpets and wryly bemoans daily squabbles over home learning; a child often sulks and balks when his mother picks up schoolmarmish chalk…they’d never need to know he once swelled my belly and plucked my sciatic nerv...
Published by Entropy Magazine.
Before we were told to avoid air travel, but after the lines at Costco were thirty people deep, the house finches chose our ledge.
Through the window I saw one brindled dun and gray, cream-rimed at her wing’s scallops and striped breast, her mate the same but red-capped and cloaked. Tightly-locused hopping on their splinter-fine feet. Heads domed and darting. My hands washed the dishes with acorn-scented soap. My winter ears drank in their susurrating chirps.
We’d lived in the house less than...
Imagine a memoir in the form of a centipede. Each segment of its body is a chapter. In each chapter, the narrative takes on a new genre’s characteristics, from noir to Choose Your Own Adventure. This is Carmen Maria Machado’s second book, In the Dream House: A Memoir. Her narrative flows through each discrete-genre segment like the centipede’s life force: potent, skittery, undulant, spiky, and fluid.
Once, Carmen Maria Machado fell in love with an unnamed woman writer, who gained her trust, m...
Ludlow Street will always be stuck in 1994, the year I moved from Buffalo to live in an Alphabet City summer sublet. I may also always be stuck in 1994, in complicated thrall to the Perland sisters.
When I made a reservation to stay at a glossy, high-rise hotel on Ludlow last year, I did so with the urge to collide my present-day self against my younger self. I wanted to slip into the old Ludlow’s grotty sepia, walk past paint-tagged storefront gates closed like brittle eyelids over vacant sh...
Someone recently told me, “The best way to learn a language is when you love somebody who speaks that language.” I remembered that as I gingerly slid into the neighborhood pool last summer. Immersion.
I have been in lots of kinds of water over the last twenty years. The Italian Riviera with my wife, windmilling my legs to stay clear of the craggy piles of barnacled boulders, feet offshore from giving-no-fucks Italian grandmas sunning their dimply swags of flesh in skimpy bathing suits. A ceru...
Self-Salvation, Structure, and Sex Part II: Intertextuality in Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch”
We’re thrilled to publish another two-part series by Candace Walsh! You can find her two-part essay on Patricia Highsmith’s The Price of Salt in the archives. Here, Walsh explores intertextuality in two contemporary short stories. Part I considers Jess Walter’s “Famous Actor,” and Part II delves into Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch.” —CRAFT
By Candace Walsh •
In Jess Walter’s “Famous Actor” and Carmen Maria Machado’s “The Husband Stitch,” the authors use intertextuality as a struct...