Issue 156


Out of stock


in which we attend a party that isn’t happening, find ourselves in the archives, take a taxi to nowhere, and escape the clutches of our family


FICTION Shaelin Bishop, Jessica Block, Heather Debling, Doretta Lau, Don Gillmor, Tasneem Jamal, Ian Roy, Joshua Wales, Sarah Wishloff, Clea Young ESSAYS Tanya Bellehumeur-Allatt, Becky Blake, Elizabeth Dauphinee, Pamela Mordecai POETRY Mia Anderson, Jenny Haysom, Chase Everett McMurren, Matthew King, Pamela Mordecai, K.D. Miller, Helen Robertson, Anne Marie Todkill, Eleanor Sudak, Anne Swannell


Poetry came at me first in Daddy’s voice. Every night before bed, he read us a poem from a book I still have called The Best Loved Poems of the American People. It is only now, today, as I write, that I wonder why he never read from The Best Loved Poems of the British People. After all, from we were small-small, we knew God was to save our gracious King, and then our gracious Queen, just as we knew Britannia ruled the waves. We, great-great-grandchildren of the enslaved, sang again and again, insensible of the irony, not just of Britain’s seafaring pre-eminence but also of the fact that we “Britons” “never, never, never shall be slaves.”


I type a few words and they look uncomfortable on the page. I already know what my new novel will be about, but how does one begin? And how does one write well? Reading back through the first paragraphs I’ve drafted, they seem amateur and lifeless—as if any skills I acquired while writing Scratch have suddenly lost their value. Perhaps leaving behind a finished book requires this final toll—a handing over of all monies in its currency. Or maybe it’s the new novel that’s demanding a fresh start—insisting I enter its borders with my pockets emptied of all loose change.


Cameron Hornby is harmless, a nobody but something about how much he cares, how premeditated his jokes, his stunning recall of the little she’s revealed about herself—accidently, before she realized he was taking notes—makes her uneasy. She’s begun to anticipate, if not dread her Saturday morning encounter with him. Just last night her subconscious had conjured his melon-bald head while she sipped a pint with friends.


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