All posts by Erika Raskin

Nothing Broken by Anita Lekic

Heavy bars over window

When the bus drops Diana off in the afternoon, her mother is still at work. She lets herself into the silent, spotless apartment, a large box of Oreo cookies and two bags of Mounds in her embrace. Dropping her heavy backpack, she heads for the bathroom, embarking on a rigid routine from which she never wavers, not in the minutest detail. She strips and dumps the austere British School uniform into the laundry basket. The undergarments, all in pink, a child’s color, are tossed in next. Then she takes a hot shower, soaping herself over … Continue reading Nothing Broken by Anita Lekic

The Blue Room by Karen Kates

blue walled bedroom

Apparently, during the fifteen or so minutes while my husband and daughter waited in the car outside Whole Foods, some man had knifed his ex-wife. The injury doesn’t seem serious; she’s slouched in the rear of an open ambulance, where a paramedic presses a tiny bandage to her cheek. Still, I’m horrified: that blade could have reached her eye. I’m relieved to see my husband, Nathan, sitting up straight in the Volvo, and six-year-old Juliet, harnessed behind him, in that complicated plastic bucket of a seat. It’s bitter cold, sleeting. As I get into the … Continue reading The Blue Room by Karen Kates

A Letter to My 4-Month Old-Niece by Shruti Ramanujam

miniature wooden boat on display

  Dear Dhriti, You’re 4 months old now and have learned how to lie on your stomach and roll over again. You’re reaching for teethers and toys, your mom proudly declares when I badger her for baby deets. She says this is fast, but all I want to scream is “Motor, you slowpoke!” Can’t you grow a little faster? Can’t you see that I’m waiting for you to start reading? I want to buy you your first book and hopefully, all the books in your future bookshelf. I’ll start you on fairytales and then bring … Continue reading A Letter to My 4-Month Old-Niece by Shruti Ramanujam

Faces of Death XIV by Tom Hearron

Vulture on post

The old woman fills her days volunteering for a Catholic garden club planting flowers in vacant lots on the town’s east side, where at night gangs shoot it out amid trampled pansies and broken-off cosmos. She goes back anyway. Everyone in the neighborhood knows her, calls her the crazy flower lady. ************** Faces of Death IX showed a burning apartment building. From a balcony high above a jam-packed street, a frantic crowd grabbed at an out-of-reach lifeline dangling from a helicopter that hovered like a dragonfly. A window exploded, rocketing glass shards through smoke and … Continue reading Faces of Death XIV by Tom Hearron

Pigeon Girl by Sara Alaica

Two birds in a tree

A white pigeon sat in the gutter, waiting. Her wings were folded up like sails of a ship at anchor, her head bobbing in a sea of cobblestones. Slobodanka stopped, crouched down and peered into the bird’s brown almost red eyes. They blinked at each other. She reached out her hand slowly towards the bird, expecting it to fly away, but it didn’t move. The pigeon was like silk, smooth and shiny, her body firm and substantial under the girl’s fingers, weighted with warmth. She set her books down, looked up and down the street, … Continue reading Pigeon Girl by Sara Alaica

Side Door by Amy Kenyon

Doorknob hit by light

1 “The houses that were lost forever continue to live on in us…they insist in us in order to live again, as though they expected us to give them a supplement of living.”*   I liked to throw a baseball against the house, aiming as close to the side door as I dared and catching the ball as it ricocheted back to me. It was how I honed my pitching and fielding. Mom said, “You’d better not hit the door.” My little sister liked the regular pop of hardball striking yellow brick, but soon after … Continue reading Side Door by Amy Kenyon

The Cantor’s Window by Michael Cohen

Chess pieces on board

The old cantor and the new rabbi were to meet in the lunchroom behind the office wing of Congregation Beth Tzedek, the House of the Righteous. There was no empty office for the new rabbi, Jacob Kleck, to occupy, so the plan was to split the cantor’s office into two new but smaller rooms. It was unfortunate that only one of the new offices could possess the single window of the old room; the other would be windowless. The cantor intended to keep the window. For over four decades, Cantor Samuel Krakowski had shared his … Continue reading The Cantor’s Window by Michael Cohen

That Sketchy Area Known as Writer’s Block by Erika Raskin

Boarded up brick building

Sometimes trying to write is like playing Scrabble (old school—not virtual) and reaching into the bag for more letters only to have your fingers come up empty-handed. In fact, I’ve been racking my brain for blog topics for so long even my Facebook page has taken to castigating me. I’m pretty sure my disappointing search for ideas may have crossed over into Writer’s Block territory. For those who have never visited this particular geographical area, think ghost town in the middle of a super fund site—with a large population of large rodents. Recognizing the landmarks … Continue reading That Sketchy Area Known as Writer’s Block by Erika Raskin

The First Chapter by Charles J. Shields

Dust blowing across road and darkening the sky

I wrote an entirely new Chapter 1 for the new edition of Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee (Holt 2006; rev. 2016). The idea to open the biography at a low point in the her life, instead of during childhood was suggested by Garrison Keillor in a review of the first edition appearing in the New York Times ‘Sunday Book’ section: ‘If you were going to draw a movie from this book, you’d start on York Avenue in Manhattan on a cold winter night in the late 1950’s. Pages of manuscript fluttering out of an … Continue reading The First Chapter by Charles J. Shields

The Rock of Lost Hope by Bill Gaythwaite

Boulder on the beach

My father seemed well enough when I saw him, though he did remind me of someone who’d been woken up too quickly from a deep sleep and was trying really hard not to bump into any walls. I’m not sure how reliable my opinion was though, since I was only there for the weekend and was coming down with the flu or something by the time I got to the house. I felt feverish and sort of submerged most of the time and only felt better when I headed back to the city Sunday night. … Continue reading The Rock of Lost Hope by Bill Gaythwaite