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Hillary Johnson

Credit: ILLUSTRATION BY JASON LEVESQUE

Sex and the Country: Do Me and Sex for America

In a story titled “The Anthropology of Sex,” a 37-year-old woman broods over a long-ago affair with her literature professor — the man’s wife happened to be 37 at the time — and commemorates the guilty event by imagining that her own husband is having an affair. This sounds like......

BDSM Buddies

The pieces that make up author and political activist Stephen Elliott’s new collection, My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up, tell the story of a sex life, from its awkward, teenage beginnings to the first moments in which Elliott’s character, Theo, begins to integrate sex with self......
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Biomorph Farm

The country of Inner Horner is so small that only one of its six citizens can occupy it at any given time, while the other five must stand in a Short Term Residency Zone on soil loaned to them by the (relatively) great and powerful country of Outer Horner. When......
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Beauty in Motion

The Grave of God’s Daughter, by Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate and Los Angeles resident Brett Ellen Block, is about as finely wrought a work of fiction as one could hope to read. The premise is thoroughly unoriginal, but that hardly matters. Do you care that Yo-Yo Ma didn’t write Dvorák’s......
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Memory and Mystery

When I was around 12 years old, my little brother’s best friend kissed me. The kiss was brief, and happened suddenly, while other people were out of the room for barely a moment. I was shocked, and only hours later did I make some arch, indignant comment about it —......
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Burial Grounds

Illustration by Alison Elizabeth Taylor THIS HAS BEEN THE SUMMER OF BONES. ALICE Sebold's The Lovely Bones, told from the point of view of 14-year-old Long Beach murder victim Susie Salmon, has overshadowed every other book of the season with 1.3 million copies in print at last count. But let's......
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New Girl Order

The advance copy of Ben Marcus’ new novel, Notable American Women, came with laudatory quotes from George Saunders and Aimee Bender, two writers at the heart of what might be a new genre: Call it parallax fiction, because the stories always take place in a fancifully skewed version of reality......
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The Short Story

Don Lee is the longtime editor of the literary journal Ploughshares, which enjoys a reputation as one of the most prestigious outlets for contemporary fiction in the late 20th century. His short-story collection, Yellow, is offered up as a singular event -- a lazy handful of long-in-the-works stories from a......
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Out of the Dark

In 1996, Norton published a first novel called Fight Club, written by a machine-shop mechanic from Portland, Oregon named Chuck Palahniuk. A brilliant, lurid, black-hearted farce, stylish and gleefully offensive, Fight Club was at once highly entertaining and of notable literary merit, and left one highly intrigued as to what......

Diary of a Female Rapist

Illustrations by Paige Imatani THIS IS AN UNPLEASANT STORY, SO I'LL TELL IT as quickly as possible. When I was much younger, I went into a bar on Coronado and picked up a young couple: 30s, he was former-football-y and corporate, she was Asian-American and also corporate. Or they might......