September’s edition of New Writing on the Net comes to us from The Masters Review reader Jen Dupree. She writes, “I recently read Miranda July’s The First Bad Man and it’s such a physical book, so much about the body, that I couldn’t sop thinking about how physicality is conveyed in literature. This list reflects that.”
“Stories We Tell Now” by Jennifer Swift | The Sun, Sept. 2019
“We think of the girl, all the rules she’d been taught: be pretty, be liked, be good, be careful. We walk into the room with her, feel her confidence, her thrill at the attention. We want to tell her, It’s not what you think—the boys’ adulation is not a promise they will keep. We believed we were special, too, that because they wanted us we had power we could wield. We didn’t know that because they gave that power to us, they could take it away. But we go with her into the dark room with the boy. We flush at his touch, our fear quickening as we’re overpowered. Before it’s even over we realize we’ve been tricked. How stupid we’ve been.”
This is a perfect story for the me-too movement, an indictment and not-indictment, both a reckoning and a looking away.
“Someone Will Come and Get Us” by Treena Thibidous | The Rumpus, August 28, 2019
“Rock climbing hollows out my stomach, a sensation not dissimilar to the uterine suck in the last irrevocable moment before an orgasm. It always feels like I’m making a mistake on purpose.”
A woman wants to stray, her husband wants her devotion. They go rock climbing together and something bad happens and in a way, they both get what they want. This is a subtle reckoning, a painful desire.
“The Last Rite of the Body” by Sophie Mackintosh | Granta, August 19, 2019
“My ex-boyfriend dies, and we all gather to put our hands into his body. There is not enough room so our own bodies take it in turns. We allow ourselves to move on everyone else’s currents, and nobody makes eye contact. When we’ve finished touching the skin, the skin is removed. When the skin is removed and carefully folded on the birch racks, we touch him again. After a while, his mother has the honour of putting her hands on him, a signal for us to stop, and we dip our own bloody hands into the tub of soaped water, respectfully. Our hands touch under the foam.”
I love weird, and this story is viscerally weird. There’s no way you won’t feel this in your body.
“No Matter” by Kendra Fortmeyer | Lightspeed, August 2019
“’Thank you,’ you said, and turned to go. I looped my arm around my husband’s waist, hoping—what? To make you uncomfortable? You twisted back just before disappearing over the hill and looked back at my husband, your face laced with complicated regret. I felt like somebody was intruding on something, but I wasn’t sure what.”
This is science fiction that really speaks to human nature—obsession, desire, doubt—and how those are the real things we need to fear.
Curated by Jen Dupree