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What We Do with the Wreckage: An Interview with Flannery O’Connor Award Winner Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum

By Jessica MesmanJanuary 16, 2019

The stories in Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum’s Flannery O’Connor Award-winning collection, What We Do With the Wreckage, are about what happens when life doesn’t look like it was supposed to, when all we’ve been working toward suddenly seems meaningless or broken. And yet they aren’t nihilistic. Lunstrum lets the personal disasters linger in the background while her characters…

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He Shall Be a Light

By Jessica MesmanDecember 20, 2018

I could see the glowing nativity from my bedroom window, the whole set in molded plastic: Mary, Joseph, three wise men, two sleeping sheep, a donkey with a saddle, Baby Jesus in the manger. My dad arranged them reverently in the front yard and lit them with a long orange extension cord plugged into a…

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Writing Rules for Life

By Sara ZarrSeptember 27, 2018

For my forty-first birthday, I decided to write a personal rule of life. Turning forty hadn’t magically made me wise in the way that translates into action, and I didn’t wish to spend the next decade wading in the same bog of issues and habits and disordered affections that kept me from feeling present to…

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Reynolds Price and Me: The Tale of Two Rhodes Scholars, Part 2

By Casey N. CepJanuary 11, 2018

I found myself returning to the work of Reynolds Price in 2011, the year he died. Price passed in January and that summer I served as hospital chaplain.  Within a week of starting at the hospital, I went looking for one of Price’s books. After A Palpable God, Price had mostly left religion alone, writing novels, stories,…

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Reynolds Price and Me: The Tale of Two Rhodes Scholars, Part 1

By Casey N. CepJanuary 10, 2018

Reynolds Price slithered onto the American literary scene in 1962. “Just with his body and from inside like a snake,” Wesley Beavers drove his motorcycle and his girlfriend Rosacoke Mustian into the 189-word sentence that opens A Long and Happy Life. The title of Price’s first novel was prescient for an author whose career spanned five…

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Mirrors, Monsters, and Art

By Brad FruhauffJanuary 2, 2018

Often when Aomame finishes showering and prepares to dress, she stands naked before a mirror and considers her body. It is an athletic body, toned, if thin. She always wishes her breasts were larger, but thinks, quite practically, “You’ve gotta work with what you’ve got.” Haruki Murakami’s character in 1Q84 is not vain so much…

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The Jealous Prayer

By Bryan BlissDecember 28, 2017

In the first days of my MFA program, one of the mentors—a fiction writer I hadn’t studied with yet—said she’d taken to sending letters to other writers when she found herself feeling jealous of their success. This struck me as worthwhile, both in terms of maintaining literary friendships and, you know, being a decent human…

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The Cost of Writing the Truth

By Tony WoodliefNovember 30, 2017

I remember my mother used to go to bed for the day. The blackness of her mood seemed to darken her room. I don’t know why she left her door open. Maybe she knew, even in her unresponsive state, that she needed to be able to hear us. Maybe she thought it would be less…

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The Night I Read Flannery O’Connor’s College Journal

By Emily LundNovember 21, 2017

I am. This is not pure conceit. My tea (Irish Breakfast, decaf, as it’s nearly 9 p.m.) is still warm, thankfully—I’d left it in the kitchen to steep, knowing full well I’d forget it once I checked my phone, remember it once I’d scrolled through apps long enough to be disgusted with myself, and wonder…

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The Gift of Interdependence

By Camellia FreemanNovember 23, 2016

This story has many beginnings. It begins with the great state of Ohio where I’d made my home for eight years. We lived in Columbus, and on late nights my husband and I would walk its city streets during summers so thick you could wade through them, cicada choruses surging like electric currents through the…

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