Exploring the art of fiction


Tag: Present Tense

Pig Son by Sequoia Nagamatsu

  Since my ex-wife and I buried our son, I have committed myself wholeheartedly to my lab, growing hearts and other organs inside of pigs that could have saved Peter. It’s his birthday today, which means Laura texts me more…

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Help Us See Your Face by Susan Kleinman

  Chesed shel emet they call it—the truest loving-kindness, preparing a body for burial. Truest, because it is done at inconvenient times, in harshly lit rooms. Truest, because touching dead people isn’t fun. Truest, because the kindness can never be…

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2.25.64 by Mark Farrington

  Into the arena comes the somber and menacing figure of Charles “Sonny” Liston, aptly named the most frightening man in the world.   People said the war changed your father but your mother disagreed. “It just gave him license,”…

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The Solution Woman by Kenan Orhan

  Gökçe watches her younger brother stride up the street to her flower shop in his only suit coat, carrying a borrowed briefcase. The coat does not have holes yet, but the hem of the sleeve has come undone, and…

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“The Rabbi’s Wife” by Robin Black

How many funerals over the years? She couldn’t say. The rabbi’s wife loses count. People have no idea how constant death is. They think it’s an event. It’s not. It’s life. The rabbi’s wife knows—because she is the one whose…

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Author’s Note

In this story the main character, Frankie Kerrigan, is looking back at—and reliving—a pivotal event in his life. It’s years later, but he’s still trying to get a grasp on it. I chose the second-person point of view because this is a character who is weaving a very personal narrative meant only for himself. He’s talking to himself, and he’s doing it in the “you” voice because he’s trying to see himself from a certain emotional remove. So even though the story isn’t written in the first-person, he gets to be both the narrator and the main character.

A lot of different things went into the soup pot in writing this. Frankie is a character I’ve written many stories about, and this is a time period of his life I’d been wanting to dive into for a while. I was very moved by an anecdote a good friend of mine told me about rushing out to buy rings when he found out his partner was HIV-positive. I drew from some of my own experiences in the early days of HIV testing. And David Koresh and the Branch Dividians lent a bizarre backdrop to what’s already macabre subject matter.

PATRICK RYAN is the author of The Dream Life of Astronauts (long-listed for The Story Prize and named one the Best Books of the Year by the St. Louis Times-Dispatch, LitHub, Refinery 29, and Electric Literature) and Send Me (a finalist for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize). He is also the author of several novels for young adults. His fiction has appeared in many places over the years, including The Best American Short Stories. His nonfiction has been published by Granta and has been included in Tales of Two Cities and other anthologies. The former associate editor of Granta and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, Patrick is the editor-in-chief of One Story. He lives in New York City.