The Blog

From the Archive: Ann Patchett's "Africa"

TIR staff

To celebrate Publishers Weekly's naming of Ann Patchett's State of Wonder as one of the Best Books of 2011, we give you her short story "Africa" from our Spring 1988 issue (18/2):



"Boo." Georgia opened the closet door and peered inside. She could hear Lewis' light breathing and make out the shape of his small shoes in the darkness behind the coats. "When someone says 'Boo' you're supposed to say 'Boo' back at them. Otherwise it's bad luck." The silence continued for a while.

"Boo." Lewis said.

An Interview with David Gates

Brian Gresko

Reading David Gates led me to take one of his seminars, with the hope—not unusual for a novice writer—that he might impart some secret to his skill. Writing mostly in the first person, Gates's antihero protagonists are rude and disaffected, erudite and funny—not-so-distant relatives, one imagines, of Holden Caulfield. Like that iconic character, they come across as flawed yet likable, or at least sympathetic, revealing sordid aspects of the human condition with brutal honesty and wicked humor. Gates's debut novel, Jernigan (1991), was short listed for the Pulitzer Prize.


Russell Scott Valentino

Our editor-in-chief, Russell Valentino, has just returned from a trip across Eurasia via ferry, plane, and Trans-Siberian Railway. Here a brief final reflection on crossing.

Rahul Mehta's QUARANTINE

Theodore Wheeler

In his convincing debut collection of short fiction, Quarantine (Harper Perennial 2011), Rahul Mehta chronicles the lives of openly gay Indian-American men, their disappointments and betrayals, and the hard-earned personal connections they come to cherish. In an intimate, confessional style, Mehta’s characters dwell on botched relationships, on their romantic, familial, and cultural failures, and on the difficulty of sharing space with another person. Most of the stories focus on Western-born children and young adults bored by Indian social and religious traditions—rich kids, overfed on pop culture, who have trouble connecting with those around them, whatever their ethnicity. For his part, Rahul Mehta is a technician of the first order.


Micah Bateman

“...[W]hile in transit, // things glitter.”
—James Grinwis, from “Inupiat,” Exhibit of Forking Paths

Every time the bucks went clattering
Over Oklahoma
A firecat bristled in the way.

Wherever they went,
They went clattering,
Until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the right,
Because of the firecat.

Or until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the left,
Because of the firecat.

The bucks clattered.
The firecat went leaping,
To the right, to the left,
Bristled in the way.

Later, the firecat closed his bright eyes
And slept.


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