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The Paris Review

The Paris Review

Summer 2021
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The Paris Review publishes the best fiction, poetry, art, and essays from new and established voices, and the Writers at Work interviews offer some of the most revealing self-portraits in literature.

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United States
The Paris Review Foundation, Inc.
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4 Issues

in this issue

31 min.
the beyoğlu municipality waste management orchestra

Selim the half-wit hoarded everything—that was the story they told me my first day in waste management. Selim had lost his wife, and I guess everyone figured he took up hoarding as a way to fill the void. It started out with stuff his wife might have liked—small earrings, a tea set, owl statuettes—picked out of garbage bins. Well, Selim ended up with a house packed to the rafters with trash he thought was gold. He tucked it onto shelves and into stacks, put it in cupboards, crammed it under floorboards, couch cushions, and the mattress, until there was no space left but overhead. Then he installed a system of boards and beams into the frame of the house, with maybe two or three inches of clearance from his head,…

1 min.
ada limón

POWER LINES Three guys in fluorescent vests are taking downa tree along my neighbor’s fence line, which is, of course, my fence line, with my two round-eyed snakes and my wandering raccoon. That is, if you go in for ownership. My, my, my.For weeks the tree they’re cutting grew tight with a neon pink band around its trunk. A marking, so you knew it was going to die. Must have been at least fifty years old, a nonfruitingmulberry with loads of wintercreeper crawling up the bark. Still it hung low by the power lines. Its fruitless limbs leaning over the wire like it didn’t care one bit about power.Just inching up toward the sun under the hackberry. The men are laughing between chain saw growls, the metal jaws of machinery. It is a sound that sounds like killing.I can…

1 min.
two poems by kaveh akbar

AN OVERSIGHT I murdered my least defensible vices,stacking them like bodiesin the surf. An armada of nurses rode into cherish the dead: Try harder, littlemoons, they said to the corpses, spooningeggplant into each mouth. Winterfollowed winter. Horses coughedblood into the sand. Some painstays so long its absence becomesa different pain— They say it’s notfaith if you can hold it in your handsbut I suspect the opposite may be true,that real faith passes first through the bodylike an arrow. Consider our whole galaxystaked in place by a single star. I fearwe haven’t said nearly enough about that. FAMOUS AMERICANS AND WHY THEY WERE WRONG A ribbon around an oak tree readsBROTHER. The oak’s roots sinking deeper into the dirt.A heart can sink too, like a root, or a librarywhose architect forgot to factor in the weight of its…

4 min.
ishion hutchinson

READING ‘THE TEMPEST’ Tremor in his hands. He turns obsoleteleaves edged with thunder since the opening scene.What he sees he reads under croton shade,out in the sun. Restless peninsula,dog-eared, melting off into the blue.The blue breaks white as hallucination,more haggard than foam. What he reads he is,in all unlikeness, except in margins.Patiently there his patient, brisk notes skimclean out of reach of spite he despises(malice, another matter, which he likes),that idle country, the cruise ship, curdlesin his eyes, edgewise, blocking Saint Thomasfrom view. The last he had seen of it, dusk,at noon, recoiled from the cinder barracksat rest from working iron into sugar;long, shingled rows of them, glittering redand silent, and in that silence, Daniel,the brown boy, ripening by lamplight, died:remember Daniel, remember Daniel—he remembers Ariel in midday’s cloven dusk,writing by…

40 min.
the art of fiction no. 249

After her first novel, The God of Small Things (1997), Arundhati Roy did not publish another for twenty years, when The Ministry of Utmost Happiness was released in 2017. The intervening decades were nonetheless filled with writing: essays on dams, displacement, and democracy, which appeared in newspapers and magazines such as Outlook, Frontline, and the Guardian, and were collected in volumes that quickly came to outnumber the novels. Most of these essays were compiled in 2019 in My Seditious Heart, which, with footnotes, comes to nearly a thousand pages; less than a year later she published nine new essays in Azadi. To see that two-decade period as a gap, or the nonfiction as separate from the fiction, would be to misunderstand Roy’s project; when finding herself described as “what is known…

1 min.
two poems by jennifer barber

PREGNANCY DREAM At first puzzlement, then joy. My baby in the making—surely my last—would, like a ferry heading for a wharf,know what to do along the way. The multiplying cells, the chemistryof contentment spreading through my blood: I was as ready for her birthas I’d ever been in my childbearing years. The natural laws stood apartlike trees onshore. TO MY BOOK I’ve been grooming you for years.Now I’m asking you to go through the gate unafraidpast the weeds towering in the heat at the end of July,the sun dropping like a red bucket into a well of clouds.You look like no one I know and everyone I’ve known,the branches of the specimen elm reaching their furthest shape,a wind rustling at the door of the cottage beyond the fieldwhose sleeper breathes the same evening. Lie down, my book:lie down beside the sleeper.…