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The Paris Review Summer 2019

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.

United States
The Paris Review Foundation, Inc.
4 Issues

in this issue

14 min

MARY TERRIER The month after our mother died, our father began bringing women home. It felt like a behind-her-back kind of operation. “I’m going to have a guest over tonight,” is what he would say. David and I stayed out in the living room, turned up cartoons, burned toast, kicked our feet up over our heads. I worked long division. At some point a woman would emerge to drink a glass of water or fix her hair in the kitchen window’s dark reflection. The guests left behind nubs of lipstick in gold tubes and leftover food, paper pouches of cold french fries, chicken legs in clamshell Styrofoam boxes. They left tampons blooming through toilet paper in the trash can, like tiny mice they’d killed, the cotton tails pink with blood. I guess when you…

1 min
three poems by eileen myles

RUSSIA I reada book &then I wantto readanotherone aboutRussiaabout the bathtub. I thinkRussia’stoo muchlike me dry& cruel. Bluewild cerebraldour. The poetsthere havebeen brainwashedby theteamof whitepoetsprecedingmewho explainedthat inamericaeverything’sconfessionalexcept them. Myintentionwas tomuddlethrough myreadingnot muddle butwanderexplainhow Ilike a mindlike a spaciousnessthat hungersfor moreand canget lostinsideyour therenessfor days TASHA She prefersmy phone & using mycomputerw out the burdenof her lifelast nightI describedit opena circleshe kissesmy kneeits lifethat ismy namethey thoughtshe hada lotI thinkit’s enoughI meanit’s astonishingif I had (his)I couldfeel everythingbut as it isI knowwhat it isI love yourlips. TO LOVE Do youonlygo to newplacesis it truedid theplanetjust getborn you in yourlittle legsand Iam in mytreeam lovethe babycrying isthe bouncingplanethe strangewindthat killedBob all of itis trueand I inmy rotam havingthetimeof mylife.…

1 min
edward hirsch

SOMETIMES I STUMBLE No one ever leavesthe building across the streetand I can’t explain whyI spent the summerstaring at its blank windowsand stony facade, its caged trees,while the sun crawledacross the light-blue emptinessyawning with clouds.I was stunned by griefinto silence, inner muteness.But then one afternoonI decided to give upmy watch.Sometimes I stumblein shadows, sometimes I tripover the last stair of the house,but now when I strolltoward a prospectmy spirit liftswith the stirring of nightjars,the first whip-poor-will of evening.…

31 min
nothing to declare

RICHARD FORD All the senior partners were having a laugh about a movie they’d seen. Forty-Five Years. Something, something about the movie taking forty-five years to sit through. The woman McGuinness thought he recognized was in it with them at the far end of the long table. Leaning in, as if hearing everything for the second time. “Miss Nail!” they were calling her. “What do you say, Miss Nail? Tell us.” Laughing. He didn’t know what it was about. She wasn’t tall, but was slender in a brown linen dress, a tailored dress, that set off her tan and showed her lean body. She’d glanced past him twice—more, possibly. A flickering look asking at first to be thought accidental, but could be understood as acknowledgment. She’d smiled, then looked away, a smile…

1 min
two poems by daniel halpern

APPROPRIATE DRESS Dear you know who you are: You must be so relievedto have, at last, the weight of my affection off you.Feathery at best, a cloakfor warmth, simple affection. Gone are my fingers through your darkspill of hair, the silken skinof your shoulder aglow in the light of candles,your electricity, the flickeringflame, the small knob of heat on a wick, white noise,your breath breathless,heart-scented, echoing your pulse,racing once, now stilledto the gentle tapping of residual waterhours after the rain,hours after the storm. MISTER SNOW “An almost perfect beau …” —Carousel She doesn’t think so much about the boatsDrifting back at sunset from the fieldsOf fish—rubber boots and sunny slickersAgainst the spray and mist of the expiring day.The water antipellucid, murky and cold,The revenue of the nets now aboard. She is here on the brink of spring, whereLove runs deep and fresh.…

2 min
debora lidov

AFTER TRUMP “Nobody knows the system better than me.” We talk most days, but today he sounds far worsethan he’s sounded since they died.I think he should call our old shrink. I say:“Call me back after you call the shrink.”He hangs up, waits ten minutes, calls back.“I did it,” he lies, “but her servicesays she’s away. What do I do?”“I don’t know,” I sigh, “shall I take you in?”By in, I mean to the ER. “Will they talk to me?”he brightens, “Give me emergency talk?”“If you’re planning to die,they’ll drug and admit you. Are you?”I ask, pretending to assess him.“No,” he answers, deflated, dropping away.“No gun?” I tease. “No pills?Oh,” I say, “do you hear voices?Other than your newly dead parents,your whirling-dead, barely dead parents—are there voices?” I’m crueland cruelty helps. He’s…