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The Paris Review Summer 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.

United States
The Paris Review Foundation, Inc.
4 Issues

in this issue

12 min

SARAH MANGUSO I. For years I could barely write a page. I thought I was becoming a virtuoso of smallness while the grief, which is wordless, occupied an ever-greater volume. My friend lived in the estates on the bad side of town. Let’s go to the forest, she said when I went over to play. There were three trees in the yard, but if you know where to stand, you can get lost in a forest of three trees. She could do it. She had to. Her mother died when we were nine. When I was an “emerging” artist I wanted only to finish emerging. But not knowing what I would become, not knowing the circumference of my life—I never expected to solve those mysteries, and once they were solved, I missed them. I…

1 min
three poems by antónio osório

CRATER OF THE BEGINNING Crater of the beginning, mud of death, endless wreckage, is this your world, the serpent you forged over seven long nights? You were freshness in a well of cloistered water and the wondrous balance of sky over earth. I reject those hands, your fundamental bitterness, these corrodible eyes. Just one day for you to build the world, but you came from the rib of man and on his side continue to drown. SEPTEMBER Sudden September thunderstorm then long wearisome rains; still on the beach the fresh rush of waves; the indifference of fallen medronho fruits and the sudden grave look of a two-year-old son; vines that bleed, grapes reaching their end; some leaves down and trees, like flowers, awaiting the quiet flight of insects and the whisper of an imminent arrival. THE CIRCUS And…

23 min

BUD SMITH A day after we made our suicide pact, the bank sent a yellow letter saying we’d lose our house. That night, instead of just killing ourselves, Monique and I set the place on fire. It was easy to start. A mountain of rags soaked in turpentine. Up it went, a solitary match. I ducked outside. The garage door came down on its automatic track. We sat in the truck and watched the house the way we used to watch the creature feature at the drive-in. It was like waiting for drugs to kick in, giddy and impatient, doubtful. But then the smoke puffed out the garage door where the weather seal was bad and we exhaled. Our shotguns were on our laps, loaded, ready to go. It would have been better to…

1 min
silvia guerra

PRESUMPTION OF HEAVEN The dry, black branches of winter seen in flight run singing. Come here to drink translucent drops on fresh leaves. Come over here, and try to light that wick. If you descend from the summit, humming, perhaps I can see you, perhaps at the river’s curve I can find again the water of the oasis spilling between leaves of poplars, and there is a nest that sings among the willows. But no. Clearly. The clear water spills over and sinks into the Spring itself, water in water. The hole in the center is made by the wind. Neither you nor I can stop that annihilation, neither you nor I. It adorns the edge, you know that water also trembles. You carried the highest Soul up there, and it hums inside me.…

56 min
the art of poetry no. 108

ROBERT HASS Robert Hass read poetry early on, but he first imagined being a fiction writer. And though he would become known around the world for his poems—sometimes giving them titles like “Novella” and “A Story about the Body”—his first publication was a piece of prose fiction in a Faulknerian vein, printed in his college magazine. Later, his dissertation at Stanford combined an analysis of the nineteenth-century novel with an inquiry into economic ideology, work that provided him cover for a private and steadily growing love for poetry. Hass went on to become a renowned professor of poetry, but would still teach, from time to time, courses on narrative film, Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, or, recently, Nabokov and Naipaul. His own story begins in 1941, when he was born the second child of…

4 min
two poems by forough farrokhzad

AFTER YOU O my seventh year, the year I turned sevenO wondrous moment of departureAfter you everything that happened happened in a mass of craziness andinsanity After you the window that had been such a vivid and bright connectionbetween the bird and usbetween the wind and usbrokebrokebroke After you that clay doll that said nothingnothing but water, water, waterdrowned in water After you we killed the voice of the cicadaand became attachedto the school bell that tolled above the sound of ABC’sand to the whistle of factories After you our play space that had been under the table movedfrom under the tablesto behind the desksand from behind the desksto the tops of the desksand we played on tabletops and lostwe lost your colors, O my seventh year After you we betrayed each otherAfter you we erased…