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The Paris Review Spring 2018

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

9 min

The driver and I got a late start. I usually decide on these excursions the night before, but it was late in the morning when I informed the friend who was coming to visit me for the weekend that I had to cancel, it was absolutely necessary for me to cancel. I had got it in my head that in her presence some calamity or another would arise and she would have to assist me in some way, rush me to a physician or something. She would be grateful she was there for me perhaps, but I would find it a terrific annoyance and embarrassment. I gave some other excuse for the disinvitation of course. Pipes. I think it was broken pipes. I should have written it down so I…

1 min
a horace to horace

1 Lost causes confound. Where are you, cousin,since you swung upside down the iron gateoutside school? The earth is your sky—correctme, was. I blame the missionaries. I blamemyself for getting the words below Annie Vallotton’sfluent drawings. You drew blank. Swung and swung.The hinges, gnashing in my ears, wing outher “maximum expression with a minimumof lines.” Impossible, but wait awhile. 2 Me? Undermine the upper classes? Whatupper classes, exactly? Copper isn’t gold,nor is there a meadow or a brookin those crannies wedged on hillside plots—schemes, excuse me—cinder blocks and grillesartillery-teetered like upholstered derelictsamid fruit trees. They, too, are survivors.They live off the blood franchise I refuse,with undue respect, to forgive and move on. 3 Even the best possible outcome, you flewan avenging angel’s speed, was possible—forgive me, is. Ivory shade burns yoursteep descent up the shortcut…

24 min

This would have been her favorite season in the Allegheny woods. The shadows of the trees were rickety, and the wind had sap in its scent. But last week, Ty had left; now one day decayed into the next. Their house was abandoned. Only their father, sitting in the dark. Lumi was building a tepee. She leaned branches against the trunk of a white ash, leaving a triangular opening through which she could crawl in and out. But every time she passed through, a few sticks fell off. While she was inside the tepee trying to stabilize it, a man’s voice said, “This wouldn’t do in any situation.” From between the weave of sticks, she saw a massive pair of hiking boots and gray corduroy hems. Once in a while, boys from her…

1 min
a hospital room

Morning walking is like a hospital room The getting up and feeling sorry for sleep Putting my fat body into a cab and going to the hospital The smell of soup and pus everywhere Not telling hardly anyone for fear they’d kill my child like I almost had Listening to my headphones, dreaming of surprise Little ego in the hospital, does it care where you’ve been We carry status, but it doesn’t care Still it pays for you to have an expensive room And the nurses and everyone, they treat you better A little extra cot, in the jail cell where they let you stay And maybe the doctor is more interested to save you If you flash some cash out your dressing gown And it’s winter, so you wash the stitches in Vaseline Bathe the raw skin in marijuana, these things Eat turmeric because…

9 min
scapegoat child

In the crucible of our family my sister burned like molten steel. Once I saw her arms outspread her legs hanging limp and useless wet saliva dripping from her tongue. I screamed they surrounded her lifted her onto the sheets where she convulsed for hours traces of stain and guilt shattering her face my sister my sister cunning participant spectator victim inside the ugly family circle. Her name was Josephine. No shortening to a rounder, softer sound like Josie or Jo was ever allowed her name was Josephine. Wide eyes alert for trouble a mouth that protruded too far lips too full for comfort. A skinny knock-kneed girl who stared so hard one day her eyes crossed locked and the full lips took on a slight tremor. Her room was on the…

1 min
boxed in

Heads up, false friends use familiarity as camouflage. In the source language deciduous might be confused with apathy, but nothing could be further away from desidia than the timed impermanence of leaves. Yes, even forests engage in a form of family planning. We took for granted the tree outside our window until it failed to bud. A ginkgo, they cut it down when the building across the street went up. Since our view is limited, we like to imagine the situation from the missing tree’s perspective. Given the recent turn of events, it might have resisted blooming. It was protesting its decorative use to boost property values. Or perhaps after millennia of honing its particulars, it refused “the magic of tree-lined streets.” Concrete blocks these social beings’ access to fungal networks, prevents their roots from interconnecting. Are you a reluctant loner like…