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Culture & Literature
The Paris Review

The Paris Review

Fall 2020

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.
4 Issues

in this issue

27 min.
the july war

RABIH ALAMEDDINE In summer, our neighborhood quiets in phases. The quieting begins in May. Schools give their older kids, the seventeen- and eighteen-year-olds, a month off to prepare for the baccalaureate exams. Following a ritual as old as our parents, the students retreat to residences out of town, to peaceful chalets and cabins away from civilization for communal study and living. As noisily as migrating birds, they return for the state exams in June. Then school ends for the year; a couple of families travel abroad, a few more leave for the mountains. An outsider doesn’t perceive the slow but sure change in the neighborhood’s population until Beirut broils in August. In early July, our neighbors across the landing, the Masris, left for the mountains. They wouldn’t return from their summer home…

1 min.
wyn cooper

MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE I close in on facts fine as sugar poured from a bottle labeled salt, comprehend nothing. I hear a knock, then another, go to the door but no one’s there. I unlock it and leave it open. When the bottle’s empty a note pops out, its paper faded as the globe on my desk. It’s unreadable. I spin the globe to see where it stops. It rolls off the desk and hits the door, which closes so hard it opens again. I spin the globe more gently this time. It stops where a country used to be. I am tired. I am so tired of this.…

12 min.
nicole sealey

PAGES 5 – 8 an excerpt from The Ferguson Report: An Erasure City officials have frequently asserted that the harsh and disparate results of Ferguson’s law enforcement system do not indicate problems with police or court practices, but instead reflect a pervasive lack of “personal responsibility” among “certain segments” of the community. Our investigation has found that the practices about which area residents have complained are in fact unconstitutional and unduly harsh. But the City’s personal-responsibility refrain is telling: it reflects many of the same racial stereotypes found in the emails between police and court supervisors. This evidence of bias and stereotyping, together with evidence that Ferguson has long recognized but failed to correct the consistent racial disparities caused by its police and court practices, demonstrates that the discriminatory effects of Ferguson’s…

4 min.
shirley hazzard an unpublished story

When The Transit of Venus, Shirley Hazzard’s masterpiece, was published in 1980, the writer explained to the New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani that she “intermittently kept notes—a bit of dialogue overheard, a quotation from Goethe found at random, a description of a potential character” in small exercise books, and that her fictions began from such notes. Some of these jottings, such as Giacomo Leopardi’s “La sera del dì di festa,” gave title and mood to a finished work; some provided an image or a moment almost unnoticed in the larger drama: England late July 1972. Visit to Wilton. A little curly mound of a dog, like a chrysanthemum. A little chrysanthemum of a dog… Apartments in NY Building like cabins on great stationary ocean liners docked along the piers of streets. “Incurable optimist”—as…

9 min.
the sack of silence

“WAIT TILL I TURNT HIS OFF. NOW.” “That noise. Whatever is it?” “The Hoover was running.” “How’s that?” “I said, I was running the vacuum.” “Not that. Outside. Listen.” Rosie leaned over the banister. “Oh, it’s the bee, dear.” “Bee nothing. A thousand woodpeckers working on tin.” “The working bee. You’ll see if you come down.” Mrs. Peale opened the front door. “Hammering nails into the elms. The whole town.” “For heaven’s sake.” “You make a circle of nails round the trunk of the tree. It’s supposed to stop the elm disease.” “I see.” “Didn’t you get the circular? And they came round, too, door to door. But then, you didn’t get up here last weekend.” “No, that’s right, we stayed in town.” “Nice when you can come up here weekends and be quiet. Don’t trip on the cord.” Rosie closed the front door and…

4 min.
three poems by rohan chhetri

MEZZA VOCE All summer the half voice lurked behind me & I played deaf for days for to live To not write about it to use my body Part the river’s flesh to operate Machinery is human too to love & for once stay awake through it all. Now it comes like the deer sleeved Out of the green in clean staccato All corpuscle & hunger—No, not the deer The ravens calling for the wolves to split Open the light from the dead deer’s belly Jeweled in the dark purse of its pelt. We are each given heaven for brief so heavy We put it down dance small around it. KING’S FEEDERY After the rape & the bloodbath, the savage king & his men retired to a long shed built in an open field by a thin river fashioned for this lull in the pillaging so…