CURRENT ISSUE: Commencement 2017


A Death in the Neighborhood

When it started, Ms. Baker 
was talking about the aorta or the distance between stars and I was clicking my pen and looking at the empty seats. By this time the school day had settled into midmorning, but there were still four people missing. I was in sixth grade.


A third of the way through Science, Ms. Baker got a call on the class phone, and as she listened she turned her back towards us as if to shield us from the news.The class murmured versions of What’s Going On in a low rumble and in response she slammed the phone down and simply said “The train was late,” deftly executing a classic parental slight of hand.

Read More



Wild ordinary things are happening


A man with a deep sea watch reads periodicals

Read More


Slinging Mud

The ball shall be a sphere formed by yarn wound around a small core of cork, rubber or similar material, covered with two strips of white horsehide or cowhide, tightly stitched together. It shall weigh not less than five nor more than 51⁄4 ounces avoirdupois and mea- sure not less than nine nor more than 91⁄4 inches in circumference. 

–– 2016 MLB Official Baseball Rules 

Read More


Six Reissued Plates, by Bing & Grøndahl

  Outside the Lighted Window ∙ (1919, 2013)

They sipped cereal milk from their breakfast bowls while discussing the men his wife might consider dating when he would be dead, and the overall feeling was that younger would be best. More energy would be nice, their daughter added. Their son pointed out that the difficulty with young was that the young too frequently found themselves poorly capitalized. He looked at his son as though he were looking through a wine bottle. The boy had always been a shit person, even as a young child, and he found himself authentically surprised that a person could change so little over so many years. Perhaps a dancer, he suddenly offered the conversation. His wife made a face that seemed to suggest she liked the thought of dating a dancer, as he’d felt she might. Then he saw her look off to a distant place, as she sometimes would in those years. Perhaps, she reflected aloud, we place too much emphasis on the present moment. 


Read More


A Conversation with Claire Messud

Claire Messud and I met outside, under the blue umbrellas of Pamplona Cafe. The day was cloudy but the author wore a thin grey sweater and a smile. She’d arrived a few minutes past the hour, which most students would probably call early, but Messud began by apologizing: she’d bumped into a former student in the lobby of the English department and had to say hello, probably with a hug, the same way she’d greeted me. We sat and ordered coffee. Next door, a baptism was happening at St. Paul’s. A fire truck screamed past, and I asked about last week’s reading at the Harvard bookstore. “I suppose one way it might be expressed,” Messud tapped her cup, “is that I’m writing a cliche of frustrated narrative expectations.” She was referring to the suggestion, or maybe it was a complaint, that The Burning Girl, her newest novel, lacked the kind of sexiness that defined the bestselling The Woman Upstairs or 2006’s The Emperor’s Children.

Read More



When I first saw the oak outside the Brattle Apartments where Elizabeth Bishop once lived, I was twenty-two, and it was summer, and I cracked open my window to look out at its branches, heavy with leaves, and the air was thick and smelled sour, and I thought of that line in “Crusoe in England” where she writes “I’d shut my eyes and think about a tree, an oak, say, with real shade, somewhere,” and I thought of all her poems I had read and all the letters I had ever held in my hands and all the lines she had written about New England and Nova Scotia and Brazil, lines that I repeat to myself as I walk to class and home again. And those were what informed me that this home could never really be just mine, and that one day I would long for something and somewhere else, as Bishop always had. In one letter Bishop once wrote that she “always felt a sort of guest,” in the places she lived, and if it is late enough at night I wonder if I feel that same way.

Read More