Skip to main content

The Drum

crisis (134)

One City One Story: Yvonne

Friday, September 27, 2019

"Yvonne" by Ciera Burch is the 2019 One City One Story all-city read selection for the city of Boston. One City One Story is an annual project of the Boston Book Festival, which prints and distributes 20,000 copies of the selected story for free throughout Greater Boston. Ciera Burch will appear at the Boston Book Festival for town hall discussions on both October 19 and October 20, in Copley Square and Dudley Square. For more information about the Boston Book Festival and One City One Story, please visit bostonbookfest. org . The story [...] more


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Cattle auctions, pastures, and an old horse. These make up the world of Janisse Ray's essay "Cheyenne", about an old horse taken in by Ray's family. Ray's piece explores the nature of love, the connections between love and pity, and the discovery of grace. [...] more

Two Poems

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Nickole Brown reads her poems "Wild Thing" and "Against Despair: The Kid Goat" and speaks with Poetry Editor Kirun Kapur about topics ranging from her inspiration for her work, to her Kentucky upbringing, to the first poem that resonated with her. [...] more

Keep in Touch

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Great Confusion has occurred, and in its aftermath, Bea is looking for her daughter. Her husband has gone missing, too. Kari Lund-Teigen's "Keep in Touch" vividly evokes a dystopian world, as well as the lengths to which its inhabitants will go to to communicate and connect. [...] more

What's Heavy?

Monday, February 25, 2019

"I don't have much time," says Dickie, the narrator of Bradford Philen's "What's Heavy". Dickie is a high-school kid, but he doesn't have much time--before his father's kidneys give out, before the coming hurricane hits, before Ophelia, the girl he's into, gives up on him. Dickie is under more than specific pressures on this one night when his many burdens weigh on him. [...] more

Devil's Drop

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Three boys make an unpleasant discovery while playing in a local park. Through one boy's narration, Heather Cripps' "Devil's Drop" tells the story of the children's vulnerability and the poignant ways in which they search for reassurance. [...] more

Head Like a Hole

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The husband who narrates Amy Lee Lillard's story "Head Like a Hole" watches, puzzled, as a perfectly round hole grows in his backyard. The growing hole, and the wife's ongoing vigil, tell a poignant story of self, integrity, and, ultimately, connection. [...] more

Hit Me

Monday, November 5, 2018

A group of high-school boys tests each other and themselves with the game of knuckles. From the pain of knuckles, to the release of getting high, to the sweet pleasure of a Charleston Chew, these boys feel everything, and try to pretend they can choose what they let in. "Hit Me" is a story--beautifully performed by Spatz--about aggression, recklessness, and surprising weakness. [...] more


Friday, October 26, 2018

Erin Hoover's poems "What Is The Sisterhood to Me" and "If You Are Confused About Whether a Girl Can Consent" speak to the issues of our current news-cycle and to the timeless issues of power and selfhood. In an accompanying interview with Poetry Editor Kirun Kapur, Hoover talks about her process, her favorite poem, and other aspects of her work. [...] more


Thursday, September 20, 2018

A thing as ordinary as a mailbox becomes the focus of all of one man's passions in Phil Shreck's eponymous story. Russell tilts not at windmills but at his mailboxes, old and new, and at a deep-seated sense of inadequacy. Shreck reads his darkly funny story aloud in a brilliant performance. [...] more

Two Poems and an Interview

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Football and a bong are the ostensible subjects of Austin Segrest's two poems "Wingback" and "The Big Bong". Segrest's poetry is both playful and serious here, classically grounded and utterly contemporary. After reading the poems, he speaks with Poetry Editor Kirun Kapur about his sources of ideas, his approach to writing, and his current non-poetry obsession: tennis. [...] more


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Since February is the shortest month, we think it's the perfect time for the shortest of stories. And so, we bring you that icon of long-ago pop culture, now modified for the post-cassette era: the mixtape. In one track, we've compiled six short pieces from The Drum's archives, from writers Matt Bell , Ron MacLean , Michelle Seaton , Cumi Ikeda , Allison Williams , and Nathan Poole . These are tales of snakes and tidepools, butchers and fish, identity and danger. [...] more

Where We Found the Girls

Friday, January 19, 2018

The anger and frustration of girls is at the core of Brandi Reissenweber's short story "Where We Found the Girls". As, one by one, four girls in a community are discovered in strange and mysterious circumstances, the townspeople must confront what they themselves have failed to see and understand. [...] more

Dear Deer

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

A woman, her two sons, her ex, and a deer. Add to this the knife the ex is using to gut the animal and you have a family crisis of compelling drama. Cindy House's "Dear Deer" doesn't skimp on the suspense but finds humor too in this confrontation over much more than one hunted animal. [...] more


Monday, December 4, 2017

A young couple, a little girl, and a seaside carnival come together in this short piece by Lisa Piazza. They come together and they come apart, while the mother who narrates the piece ponders the funhouse-mirror quality of the new land she finds herself in after divorce. [...] more

One City One Story: Relativity

Monday, December 4, 2017

Our partners the Boston Book Festival chose Daphne Kalotay’s “Relativity” as the selection for the 2017 One City One Story project. The story appeared in print--for the first time--in free booklets available throughout Boston. But you can listen to Daphne read it aloud herself here--and only here--on The Drum. [...] more

Parking Garage Late at Night

Friday, July 28, 2017

How fearless can you be? How fearless can you afford to be? In the "Parking Garage Late at Night" of Val Maloof's flash fiction, one woman's fear and imagination twine together as she faces danger. Maloof explores how the story the woman tells herself and the stories she's been told all her life--by her mother, by society--combine to save or abandon her. [...] more


Friday, July 28, 2017

In Josh Sheridan's complicated story "Faith," a woman negotiates the hypocrisy and exploitation of a small religious group. Whether you see the group as a cult or a religion, and whether you see the woman as a heretic or a believer will depend on your own ideas about faith. But Sheridan renders vividly the tense and passionate world in which his unnamed character wields the power of surrender and control. [...] more

The Housewife

Friday, July 28, 2017

A Nigerian woman's domination by her new husband forms the narrative of Hannah Onoguwe's "The Housewife" as, step by step, Aramide faces more and more restrictions--on what she can wear, whom she can visit, and finally where she can go. But confined to her house, visited only by the generator repairman, and allowed out only to have her fidelity tested by priests, Aramide discovers ways to subvert her husband's authority. Onoguwe's story brings surprise and delight in its lively telling. [...] more

Raking the Lizards

Friday, December 16, 2016

There is a woman raking lizards down from a tree. There is a family to care for. There are errands to run. Our narrator wages war against the lizards who return each day, undefeated, but she fights other things, too, in a much more complicated battle. [...] more

In Texas

Thursday, September 22, 2016

In her essay "In Texas," Christi Craig recalls her teenaged self facing a dilemma of faith and family. Should she admit to her grandmother that she cannot speak in tongues, or should she pretend she can so as not to reveal her distance from the religion that has always bound them together? Looking back, Craig examines the connections that have endured. [...] more

The Rose Tradition

Monday, July 18, 2016

In this subtle and tense story, James English sets us down among the complicated relationships within a family and a neighborhood and lets us watch a betrayal unfold. It's a variation of the tale of a stranger coming to town--only the stranger is already there, and the town is someone's family. [...] more

The Children's House

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

A group of children and their slightly inattentive parents are the time-honored ingredients for narrative mischief. In KL Pereira's "The Children's House," the mischief involves the slipping and sliding boundaries between one space and another, one family and another, one person and another. Pereira evokes an eerily calm world in which families and identities can be pilfered and misplaced as easily as an object from a mantlepiece. [...] more

What The Doctor Taught Me

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

When family crises buffeted author Catherine Elcik with grief and stress, she found solace in the unlikeliest of places: Doctor Who . Or perhaps not so unlikely. For from this television program about time-shifting and agelessness and loss and endurance, Elcik learned powerful lessons about coping with the thieveries of illness and death. In this beautiful essay, Elcik offers wisdom to all of us--Whovians or not. [...] more


Friday, November 20, 2015

Serotonin notwithstanding, Thanksgiving makes us hungry. Despite the torpor of the holiday, we become agitated, restless. Maria Mutch's "Appetites" immerses us in the restless and agitated world of a journey like so many on Thanksgiving: a trip to grandmother's house. In this short story first audio-published in The Drum in May 2014, Mutch revises the old tale, skewing fairy-tale familiarity with modern distortions. [...] more

Mi Brooklyn

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A Brooklyn family wrestles with challenges in which the mundane swiftly becomes momentous. One child's impish use of a dried legume, another's need for order; a father's return from Iraq, a mother's rush to the emergency room: events and experiences combine in a tragicomic turmoil. [...] more

One City One Story: Home Movie

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Jennifer De Leon's "Home Movie" is the Boston Book Festival's 2015 selection for the One City One Story project. "Home Movie" follows Eduardo and his wife Linda on the day he records their life in America for their family in Guatemala, while a crisis strains the bonds tying the young couple together and to their adopted country. [...] more


Monday, June 8, 2015

In "Bluebird," Louise Houghton explores the fraught relationship between two siblings, a younger sister and her older brother. This is sibling rivalry rendered with nuance and yielding to the author's curiosity and insight, set in the specifics of an English childhood. [...] more

Gretchen Was Abducted

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

In "Gretchen Was Abducted," a woman recalls with wry humor the night she was taken in error from a slumber party. Gilmore Tamny's short story offers a dispassionate exploration of haplessness and desperation, adventure and survival. [...] more

Cover Story

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A child's complicated response to complicated power--her own and that of her parents--underlies the critical moment Tracy Hahn-Burkett narrates in her short story "Cover Story". Hahn-Burkett's fiction is a terse investigation of the violence in self-assertion. [...] more

two poems

Monday, November 3, 2014

Carrie Green reads her poems "Cochina Rock" and "Test Drive" and answers Kirun Kapur's questions on a variety of topics--including the origins of her work, the experience of writing about historical subjects, and her non-poetry obsession (which features nests). [...] more

MuseFlash 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

In Stephen Dorneman's "Country-Line Dancing in Bridgeport, CT," a aloof widower finds himself in bemused participation during an evening's unexpected dance. [...] more

MuseFlash 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

In "A Thousand Cuts," Calvin Hennick turns a young boy's haircut into a taut revelation about the chaos of his mother's life, hinting at the history of this small family and intimating its perhaps ominous future. [...] more

Reading with Edan Lepucki at Brookline Booksmith

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Joanna Rakoff reads from My Salinger Year and Edan Lepucki reads from California at Brookline Booksmith. Listen in as these two writers read from their work and answer questions about driving through LA during a blackout that seems to presage apocalypse, about the experience of working in J. D. Salinger's agency, and about the shift from novel to memoir, third-person to first. [...] more


Monday, July 21, 2014

"You must never make the mistake of believing that readers just want to be passive recipients of whatever it is you want to say. " So says James Arthur in his conversation with Poetry Editor Kirun Kapur. His poem "Drone" engages readers--and listeners--in thought-provoking exploration of power and threat. [...] more

excerpt from Gone

Monday, July 14, 2014

A husband's disappearance while taking the babysitter home precipitates the crisis in this excerpt from Cathi Hanauer's novel Gone. Eve Adams embarks on a first day of her new normal, fending off inquiries from children surly and clueless, and navigating the too-zen-to-be-mean streets of her artsy Massachusetts town. [...] more


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A boy's silence, a sister's bicycle and a "misaligned world with skewed meanings". Gregory Spatz' "Brace" immerses us in the consciousness of a narrator thinking about ruin and loss as he remembers a childhood aphasia, a freewheeling car, and the urge to make a physical mark on and within the world. When you listen to the whole story, you'll understand the title. [...] more

A Notion I Took

Monday, June 16, 2014

For a hundred dollars, a young woman jumps into the Rio Grande, a river so filthy, it's dyed blue for the tourists. Money, risk, and self-invention intersect in Joy Castro's "A Notion I Took" as the story's narrator thinks about what is at stake for her as she leaps and descends through the water. [...] more


Monday, June 9, 2014

Physics, hope, and speculation come together beautifully in this moving story about a couple dealing with the chance that their fetus has a rare genetic mutation. In "Chance," Peter Ho Davies raises complex questions about what is certain and what is random, and about how and if our efforts affect the course of our lives. [...] more


Monday, May 19, 2014

Maria Mutch offers a new take on the fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood, setting this old story of violence, innocence, and sexuality in a strangely natural urban world. In "Appetites", Grandmother lives in an institution, and the wolves wear turtlenecks, and Red takes matters into her own hands. [...] more

excerpt from The Fifty-First State

Monday, April 28, 2014

A handful of sentences form the opening chapter of Lisa Borders' novel The Fifty-First State , setting her characters on an inexorable course towards tragedy and connection, and sending her readers into a world of lush detail and intensely-felt emotion. Hallie and Josh Corson share a father but little else—until a grisly highway accident at the novel's outset leaves them both without parents. Forced to come together on the family's struggling tomato farm, Josh and Hallie grow in ways they never expected, and discover that even in death’s wake, lives can change for the better. [...] more

The Greenbriar Ghost

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A house haunted by a mother's yearning for excitement is the setting for Andrea Robertson's "The Greenbriar Ghost". Named for a woman whose ghost does haunt the narrator's Southern town, Zona tries to find her own place in a world of signs and warnings, messages from beyond, and the sometimes more troubling messages from within her own family. [...] more

When Jesus Died

Monday, April 14, 2014

Jesus is the name of Rudy's dog--Rudy being the boy who forms a frank but subtle friendship with the narrator of Erica Shubin's story "When Jesus Died". Shubin's is a rich and detailed narrative encompassing adolescent sexuality, religion, and community, and centering on the poignant makeshift burial of a pet. Most of all, though, "When Jesus Died" explores the question of what makes us feel invincible or whole and what we do to guard against diminution. [...] more


Monday, April 7, 2014

The threat of violence hangs in the air as a young boy waits in a hotel room for his bookie father to return from a fight in Ben Warner's "Sandcastles". Guarded by an ally, the boy, Snake, is full of questions about what can truly protect him. Guns, knives, or fists? Or possibly, the men entrusted with his care. [...] more

Honey, Don't

Monday, March 31, 2014

A red spaghetti-strap dress and blue-suede Doc Martens set Dinah apart as she walks through a small southern town looking for a wedding dress. But it's not just the clothing that doesn't fit; it's the music, too, that isn't quite the right accompaniment she wants for her life. Dinah lives on the flip side, the back side of "Blue Suede Shoes" in this story by Darlin' Neal about a woman teetering between maturity and childishness, weakness and independence. [...] more


Monday, March 24, 2014

Zombies, weapons, and terrors of a darker, more pervasive sort: these are the subjects of Jill McDonough's poems "Horrors All Around" and "Also, Homemade Flamethrowers". What are the threats, McDonough's work asks, and do they come from within or beyond us? McDonough offers answers, too, in her interview with Kirun Kapur. [...] more

Favorite Son

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Jennifer Haigh reads "Favorite Son" from her recent collection News From Heaven . It's here that the collection's title appears--in a story of hopes and disappointments shared by an entire town and by the sons and daughters left with the town's poignant legacy. "Favorite Son" explores the ways in which a certain kind of faith and trust can turn into betrayal. [...] more

excerpt from The Other Room

Monday, February 24, 2014

A pink mitten and a balky boiler are some of the poignant details of this scene from Kim Triedman's novel The Other Room. The loss of a child registers through the eerie combination of the normal and the uncanny, adding up to mounting pressure on the husband and wife who have survived. [...] more

Another Way to Make Cleopatra Cry

Monday, February 3, 2014

A lost purse sets in motion this fast-paced, voice-rich story of opportunism and desperation seen through the wary eyes of a little girl. Dragged around the bars and backstreets of Lowell, Massachusetts by her father's girlfriend, Kaylene watches over her sister Cleopatra and the girlfriend's son as they go in search of the purse and its promise of a better life. Tracy Winn's "Another Way to Make Cleopatra Cry" offers a vivid sense of what it means when observation is your only resource. [...] more

The Parts of You We Want To Keep

Monday, December 30, 2013

It's an old story: the love triangle. But Steven LaFond sets it in the world of kink. What are the most shocking parts of us that we need or desire to keep secret? What happens when circumstances risk revealing what we want to preserve for ourselves--or what we fear to acknowledge? Those are the questions the characters of "The Parts of You We Want to Keep"--and listeners to the story--are forced to ask themselves. [...] more

Sea Monster Blues

Monday, December 23, 2013

Existential angst takes a darkly humorous turn in Ryan Britt's short story about a man and a monster on a beach. "Sea Monster Blues" offers a variation on the Jekyll and Hyde tale, the drama compressed to one summer afternoon amid the sunscreen and the paperbacks. [...] more

Things Summoned

Monday, December 16, 2013

A little girl plays in the woods, content to be alone with the bits and pieces of nature that she gathers around her. When she sees signs of a visitor, she welcomes this potential friend, eager to include someone else in her small world. Heather Newton's story "Things Summoned" lets us into that world and into the wonder, vulnerability, and danger of what's new and strange. [...] more


Monday, December 9, 2013

The Quincy, Massachusetts quarries are the setting for this short story about the disappearance of a young boy in 1980. Kim Savage's "Stud" weaves together the memories of two women once in thrall to the charismatic Danny Delano, piecing together a narrative of threatened innocence. The conflict between two brothers, undercurrents of homophobia, and the toxicity--literal and figurative--of the quarry landscape propel this unsettling and powerful narrative forward. [...] more

Sunday Afternoon With Buddha and Spider

Monday, December 2, 2013

A woman, a spider, and a small space. These are the elements of Barrington Smith-Seetachit's essay "Sunday Afternoon With Buddha and Spider. " With comic flair, Smith-Seetachit leads us through a high-intensity meditation on fear, power, and mercy. [...] more

Before the Fall

Monday, November 25, 2013

A chair held aloft at a Jewish wedding is the perch from which the narrator of Leah Berkowitz' "Before the Fall" observes a key moment in her life in poignant and vivid detail. The mundane, the good, and the worrisome are all before her--in what measure, she doesn't yet know. "Before the Fall" is a featured selection from The Drum's Flash Fiction Open Mic held at last month's Boston Book Festival. [...] more


Monday, November 18, 2013

Adam Renn Olenn's "Twelve" is paced by the chime of the town bells in this western-ish tale of a man looking for a way to stay out of trouble. Trouble, though, has a way of breaking out around him. "Twelve" is a featured selection from The Drum's Flash Fiction Open Mic held at this year's Boston Book Festival. [...] more

Vodka and Duct Tape

Monday, November 18, 2013

How to fix what's broken--in a person, a relationship, a home? Stephen Dorneman's flash fiction "Vodka and Duct Tape" offers moving and heart-breaking answers to these questions. "Vodka and Duct Tape" is a featured selection from The Drum's Flash Fiction Open Mic held at last month's Boston Book Festival. [...] more


Monday, October 28, 2013

Afolabi Opanubi's short story "Force," an overnight visit from an old friend brings into stark clarity the concerns of two young ex-pat Nigerians in Canada. The question of whether or not to return to Nigeria--and the question of what obligations Tinukeh and Bankole have to each other--propel this story in which personal decisions carry political and social resonance. [...] more

What If?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Books, Actually is The Drum's collection of interlaced stories set in and around the Boston Book Festival. A thief, a teenaged poet, a coxswain, and a disgruntled author are just a few of the characters created by Boston authors Catherine Elcik, Ethan Gilsdorf, Katrina Grigg-Saito, Ted Weesner, Becky Tuch, Clarence Lai, Stace Budzko, and Henriette Lazaridis Power. Hear them all, or go directly to a selected story. Elcik (00:31), Gilsdorf (6:20), Lai (11:47), Power (17:12), Weesner (22:51), Tuch (29:23), Budzko (35:39), Grigg-Saito (37:17), Elcik (42:21). [...] more

Dome Life

Monday, September 30, 2013

Annie Dawid's "Dome Life" describes a life under a figurative dome, on the margins of conventional society. Set in the world of pot-growers in 1970's Mendocino County, Dawid's essay tracks a descent into drugs and violence, and other dangers hiding in plain sight. [...] more

JOSH MACIVOR-ANDERSEN Bedford Forrest Birthday--Unexpected

Monday, September 9, 2013

Josh MacIvor-Andersen writes lyrically about his brother, who has made it to his thirtieth birthday in spite of a persistent craving for risk. MacIvor-Andersen's essay "Bedford Forrest Birthday--Unexpected" contemplates the seduction of danger, the power of risk to imbue our experience with seemingly greater value. The essay asks the question: do we need danger in order to validate our survival? [...] more

Jane Zhao

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Jane Zhao was a 2013 Summer Fellow at Grub Street's 2013 Young Adult Writers Program. She recorded her poem at the conclusion of the 2013 program. Her poem was one of The Drum's four featured pieces from the 2013 YAWP collection. [...] more

Ethan Aronson

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ethan Aronson was a 2013 Summer Fellow at Grub Street's 2013 Young Adult Writers Program. He recorded his story at the conclusion of the 2013 program. The story is one of The Drum's four featured pieces from the 2013 YAWP collection. [...] more

Sabrina Priestley

Monday, August 5, 2013

Sabrina Priestley was a 2013 Summer Fellow at Grub Street's 2013 Young Adult Writers Program. She recorded her story at the conclusion of the 2013 program. [...] more

Quddos Rodrigues

Monday, August 5, 2013

Quddos Rodrigues was a 2013 Summer Fellow at Grub Street's 2013 Young Adult Writers Program. He recorded his story at the conclusion of the 2013 program. [...] more

Marquis Knight-Jacks

Monday, August 5, 2013

Marquis Knight-Jacks was a 2013 Summer Fellow at Grub Street's 2013 Young Adult Writers Program. He recorded his story at the conclusion of the 2013 program. [...] more

MATTHEW SALESSES Excerpt from The Last Repatriate

Monday, July 29, 2013

Matthew Salesses' novella The Last Repatriate tells the story of Theodore Dickerson, a prisoner who eventually returns to his home in Virginia in the midst of the McCarthy Era. He is welcomed back as a hero, though he has not returned unscathed. The lasting effects of the POW camp and troubles with his ex-fiancée complicate his new marriage as he struggles to readjust to the Virginia he holds dear. The letter from Teddy's fiancée is read by Joanne Barker. [...] more


Monday, July 22, 2013

In Alix Ohlin's "Taking," the memory game played by two sisters in childhood finds heartbreaking resonance in the events of their lives. "Taking" explores the often painful connections between memory and loss, possession and disappearance, in prose of melancholic power. [...] more

MITALI PERKINS Writing Race in Novels

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mitali Perkins' essay "Writing Race in Novels" is both a collection of practical advice on a matter of writing craft, and a philosophical analysis of how our treatment of identity--our own or that of others--reveals how we approach otherness. Though this essay is directed towards writers, it bears thought-provoking ideas for non-writers as well. [...] more

LIONEL SHRIVER Reading at Brookline Booksmith

Monday, July 8, 2013

In this recording of her June 19 appearance at Brookline Booksmith , acclaimed novelist Lionel Shriver reads from her new novel Big Brother and discusses issues surrounding obesity in our culture. In her introduction to a short reading, and in her answers to audience questions, Shriver speaks with passion and insight about such topics as personal responsibility, government missteps, and the power of family and sibling relationships. [...] more

ANN LEARY excerpt from The Good House

Monday, June 17, 2013

Hildy, the narrator of Ann Leary's The Good House, is a descendant of a Salem witch, making her living selling real estate in the fictional Wendover of Massachusetts' Gold Coast. In this excerpt from Leary's novel, Hildy demonstrates her power to judge character, background, and aspiration simply by looking at the landscaping of a seaside mansion. Moving within but also slightly outside the culture of wealth and ambition, Hildy assesses the tensions and anxieties of her surroundings with acerbic wit. [...] more


Monday, May 20, 2013

Laurie Jacobs' flash fiction piece "The Call" is a MuseFlash selection from The Drum's Third Annual MuseFlash contest, recorded at Grub Street's Muse and the Marketplace conference earlier this month. "The Call" is an early morning phone call that alters the life of Jacobs' college-student narrator. The brevity of the piece belies its dense emotional impact and its moving tone. [...] more


Monday, May 20, 2013

Wendy Wakeman's "Identity Theft" was a selection from The Drum's Third Annual MuseFlash contest at Grub Street's Muse and the Marketplace conference earlier this month. Financial dire straits and the pressures of college and work form the setting for the piece, in which a ten dollar bill and a grandmother's handwriting come together to alter the narrator's life. [...] more

MARCIA DOUGLAS Boy With a Watergun in his Schoolbag

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

In Marcia Douglas' "Boy With a Watergun in His Schoolbag", a boy finds power and poetry in something so basic as the multiplication tables. The number seven becomes the source of discovery of his own greatness and of his identity in the face of the confining world of school and a teacher with a ruler in her hand. "Boy With a Watergun in His Schoolbag" was The Drum's selection from our Third Annual MuseFlash contest, recorded at Grub Street's Muse and the Marketplace conference earlier this month. [...] more

KELLY ROBERTSON The Characteristics of Dirt

Monday, May 20, 2013

Kelly Robertson's "The Characteristics of Dirt" is one of The Drum's selections from our Third Annual MuseFlash contest, recorded at Grub Street's Muse and the Marketplace conference earlier this month. Robertson's piece takes an intriguing and almost eerie look at a woman with an intense need to dig. This short work brings the listener in close, focusing on vivid sensory details of the loam the character sifts through. [...] more

LADETTE RANDOLPH Excerpt from Haven's Wake

Monday, May 13, 2013

Ladette Randolph's novel Haven's Wake tells the story of a family reunited on the family farm after the death of their patriarch. Set in a Mennonite community in eastern Nebraska, the novel illuminates themes of faith and loyalty, belief and imagination, family and allegiance. In this excerpt, a son discovers the strange clay figures his father was building beside the lake where met his death. [...] more


Monday, May 6, 2013

A man and a woman, a car, and a long drive in the company of memories and ruminations. Religion, race, and the seductive power of persuasion all come together in Tiphanie Yanique's story "Oakland Gomorrah". The story's conclusion offers a particularly thought-provoking reflection on beliefs and history. "Oakland Gomorrah" appears in print in the current issue of the literary journal AGNI. Listen to the story here, and read along in print . The story is read aloud by Katrina Grigg-Saito. [...] more

RON MACLEAN Is Fiction Empathy's Best Hope?

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ron MacLean's essay examines how stories connect us, and how the imagination becomes a powerful force in the creation of empathy. Citing writers Rabindranath Tagore, Ian McEwan, Tim O'Brien, and Marilynne Robinson, among others, MacLean reminds us that empathy is not just a desired effect of fiction, but a social and cultural need. In "Is Fiction Empathy's Best Hope? " MacLean offers us the hope and the promise of literature. [...] more


Monday, June 10, 2013

Ed Bull's "Seed" revisits the shocking events of August 1, 1966 when Charles Whitman shot seventeen people from the University of Texas clock tower. Part essay, part invention, Bull's piece bring us into the events, allowing us to ponder Whitman himself and the nature of his horrible crime and the nature of violence. [...] more

HENRIETTE LAZARIDIS The Clover House, Chapter One

Monday, March 25, 2013

Henriette Lazaridis Power's novel The Clover House follows a Greek-American woman who discovers the secrets to a wartime family tragedy when she returns to Greece to sift through an inheritance. In the novel's first chapter, Callie Brown determines to make the trip to Greece, motivated by her mother's attempts to keep her away, and by her own unease about her recent engagement. For more about the book, visit www. henriettepower. com . [...] more


Monday, March 11, 2013

Steve Adams's "The Fish" opens as a woman realizes her husband has killed his entire herd of cattle. This brief and powerful story goes on to sketch an entire marriage strained by the hard life of the land. It offers a poignant look at loss as well as the tenuous promise of a new beginning. "The Fish" was originally published in Glimmer Train . [...] more

LISA DUFFY What Matters

Monday, March 4, 2013

Lisa Duffy's "What Matters" explores our notions of exactly that in the telling and remembering of the events surrounding the brief disappearance of the narrator's son. When the little boy gets lost in Central Park, his absence sets off a chain of events both in the search for him and in the narrator's search for the meaning of the events as she relives them. Trust, fidelity, and truth are just some of the ideas Duffy mines for this compelling and compellingly told story. [...] more


Friday, September 1, 2017

On May 19, 2017, GrubStreet hosted Boston's first Write-In. The Drum was on the scene to record some of the many stories told by recent immigrants and refugees. Here are stories by Yanley Francois, Zach Ben-Amots, U-Melgn ‘Mhlaba-Apebo, Dana Lopes, Carolyn De Jesus, Christelle Narcisse, and Aseret Laparra. Write-In audio was recorded by Ilya Methot and Jordan Fischer. [...] more

COLLEEN FULLIN The Dead and The Drowned

Monday, November 26, 2012

Colleen Fullin's "The Dead and The Drowned" focuses in on a teenaged boy in the aftermath of the drownings of young men in his city. Garrison is shaken by their deaths, but unsettled more profoundly in ways that he only comes to understand--if at all--at the story's end. The reader is in for a powerful conclusion to Fullin's tale, as it touches on the complications of identity, desire, and sexuality. [...] more

LISA MECHAM You Get What You Get

Monday, November 12, 2012

"You Get What You Get" offers an intense story of a woman confronted with her husband's deteriorating mental health.  A trip to the remote suburbs to see a house her husband has purchased brings Jennifer face to face with the dangers in her own home. At the heart of Lisa Mecham's story are detailed character studies of people in crisis. [...] more


Monday, October 15, 2012

A plate of eggs, a map, and a greasy table top inspire a new journey for the young narrator of Elizabeth O'Brien's "Over Easy". O'Brien's vivid and concise writing, and her evocative reading performance, give the listener a strong sense of the narrator's need to just go. [...] more

ANDREW SULLIVAN The Lesser Half of Sir John A. Macdonald

Monday, October 8, 2012

Andrew Sullivan's narrator names the lesions on his body after the cities where he has endured the loneliness and pain of homelessness. "The Lesser Half of Sir John A. Macdonald" paints a world in which people can be torn in two, like the eponymous Canadian banknote, by the longing to stay put and the need to keep moving. Sullivan's story follows a young man struggling through the consequences of one bad turn, as he makes his way across Canada. [...] more


Monday, August 27, 2012

At this time of year in 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and much of the surrounding area. Joan Kane Nichols's flash fiction "Treasures" sets us down in one woman's home as she and her husband Darryl prepare to evacuate, one of them more readily than the other. The story is a vivid dramatization of the pull of belongings--treasures--as both burden and rescue. [...] more


Monday, July 30, 2012

Prairie Markussen's "Nothing Special" tells the short, moving story of an old Korean woman fighting for permanence in her changing city. Am-yeong Im, given the name for babies not expected to survive, patiently and insistently works for the survival of her home. In Markussen's story, a woman's small act of erasure turns into an attempt to make something last. [...] more


Monday, July 23, 2012

Aine Greaney's essay "Green Card" recounts a trip to renew the eponymous card in Lawrence, MA. As her GPS tries to lead her to the INS office, Greaney meditates on the obstacles and miscommunications of the immigrant's experience. She thinks over her years in the United States, her departure from Ireland, and her sense of belonging to those who don't belong. Greaney's essay offers a thoughtful meditation on cultural and personal identity. [...] more

ROSIE SULTAN Excerpt from Helen Keller in Love

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rosie Sultan reads from her novel Helen Keller in Love (Viking 2012), specifically, the episode in which Keller first meets Peter Fagan, the man she was to fall in love with. The excerpt offers a vivid sense of Keller's world, in which messages are communicated by signs in her palm, and sounds are felt through vibration. [...] more

JEAN RYAN Migration

Monday, May 14, 2012

A broken marriage and a change of scenery find the protagonist of Jean Ryan's "Migration" examining her past and planning a future in northern California. A flock of geese by her house, and one particular goose who refuses to leave, lead Erica to consider old bonds and new loyalties as she charts a new life. [...] more


Monday, March 12, 2012

The burning of an opera house, a rivalry between two sisters, self-creation in Venice--these are all elements of Annemarie Neary's short story "Firebird". Its narrative threads woven together like those of an opera, Neary's story mines the relationship between Elvira and Betsy (or Betzi, as she renames herself) and their ongoing attempts to define themselves against and with each other. The story is a meditation on identity and art, originality and imitation. [...] more


Monday, March 5, 2012

James O'Brien's "Penned Up" tells a soldier's story. In a laconic tone that still hints at the pain of his experience, the narrator describes the heat, the smells, and the tragedy of his tour in Iraq. "Penned Up" is about detachment and loyalty, isolation and belonging, and expectations met and withheld. [...] more

ANNE COLWELL excerpt from Holy Day

Monday, February 6, 2012

This excerpt from Anne Colwell's novel Holy Day finds Maxine waking hungover in 1969 to confront her three young children and the challenges that arise from the issues surrounding their birth. Religion, marriage, the ability to be a good mother--these obligations press against Maxine as she remembers the post-McCarthy-era days before her marriage, when even conformity could offer a sense of new beginning. Her decision to convert to Catholicism sets up the complicated balance of independence and loss that both she and her husband now face. [...] more

E.R. CATALANO Trying Lessons

Monday, January 23, 2012

In E. R. Catalano's "Trying Lesson," a young girl's search for Titian in the hair-color aisle is the starting point for more than a superficial transformation. Looking for a sense of home and belonging, the narrator of this excerpt from Catalano's novel-in-progress Becoming the Girl Detective seeks identity through her admiration of Nancy Drew. Perhaps if she can model herself after the girl detective, the narrator can solve the mysteries surrounding her own family. [...] more


Monday, January 9, 2012

Colette Sartor's "Dress Shoes" recounts a relationship tested by one friend's transition from male to female. From Elke's perspective, we feel her longing and her sense of loss as her friend Ralph drifts away from her, forming a new bond. "Dress Shoes" is about sexuality--Elke's and Ralph's--but it is also about control, identity, and about the various ways in which we try to make our marks, literal and figurative, on ourselves and on others. [...] more

LESLIE PIETRZYK Lady of the House

Monday, December 19, 2011

Leslie Pietrzyk's novel excerpt Lady of the House brings a crisis into the already unsettled life of sisters Nettie and Lucy in the Chicago of 1900. At the turn of a new century, with their father recently dead and Lucy newly married, both women face decisions about how to respond to the pressures of motherhood and marriage. Their situation sharpens when a maid introduces a crisis of her own into the sisters' household. [...] more

JESSICA BARKSDALE Marco on the Beach

Monday, December 12, 2011

Jessica Barksdale's "Marco on the Beach" captures Marco trying to make do--with food stamps, with his girlfriend who can't sleep enough, with uncertainty over where to live. As he and Sara negotiate the grocery-store aisles and settle down over a meager meal, a new discovery makes Marco imagine his life, an alternate future spinning out from a single choice. [...] more

CHERYL WALSH Unequal Temperaments

Monday, November 28, 2011

Cheryl Walsh's "Unequal Temperaments" is narrated by a musician and a tuner of harpsichords--instruments whose tuning challenges give the story its title. Telling a story about friction among players in a conservatory, the piece explores our ability to adjust, align, and predict events in our experience, and suggests that despite our certainty that we can foretell things, we will always be surprised and perhaps foiled by the irrational and the unruly. [...] more

HADLEY MOORE When My Father Was In Prison

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hadley Moore's "When My Father Was In Prison" describes the power of language in the life of a nine-year-old boy as he tries to sort out what it means to be a boy, a man, a father. A father in prison, a pet bird that has died, an older brother discovering his sexuality--Moore's narrator studies it all, coming to understand some part of how he fits in to his world. [...] more

KIMBERLY ELKINS Laura Bridgman, The First Famous Blind Deaf-Mute

Monday, November 14, 2011

Kimberly Elkins' "Laura Bridgman" offers a fascinating fictionalized account of an actual historical moment. As she meets the young girl who is being groomed to take her place as a celebrity, Bridgman muses on the vagaries of fame and reputation. Elkins' piece raises interesting questions about the rivalry among the senses (or their loss), and the strange power that can be wielded by disability. [...] more

EMMA FORREST excerpts from Your Voice in My Head

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Emma Forrest's memoir Your Voice in My Head chronicles her descent into darkness and her relationship with the therapist who helped her find her way back out. In the Prologue and the excerpt of Chapter Four that she reads here for The Drum , Forrest writes movingly of being a teenaged girl with a dangerous fixation on Millais' painting of Ophelia. She writes with restraint of powerful emotions, and describes her younger self's disturbing desire for annihilation with intensity and insight. [...] more


Monday, September 26, 2011

The teenaged narrator of Erin Kelly's "Shhh" has decided to stop talking. It's an eloquent protest, conveying independence and resistance to her mother, affection for her younger brother, and a nuanced sensitivity to the world around her. While her brother builds tiny walls to protect the backyard ants, the narrator builds a connection that requires almost no words. [...] more

HAU NGUYEN Immigrants

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hau Nguyen's story "Immigrants" is a young man's advice to himself on how to navigate a new life in a new world. Part reminder, part exhortation, part warning, "Immigrants" conveys the newcomer's desires for assimilation and independence, and his embrace of the new while holding onto the old. "Immigrants" appears in The Drum as part of our selection from Grub Street's Young Adult Writers' Program . [...] more


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

In Molly Zimetbaum's "Balloons," an older sister tells the poignant story of the birthday celebration for her little sister that seemingly goes awry. This family of three--two daughters and a weary but caring father--finds a sweet balm for disappointment. "Balloons" appears in The Drum as part of our selection from Grub Street's Young Adult Writers' Program . [...] more

JULIE WHEELWRIGHT excerpts from Esther: The Remarkable True Story of Esther Wheelwright, Puritan Child, Native Daughter and Mother Superior

Monday, July 25, 2011

Julie Wheelwright's Esther: The Remarkable True Story of Esther Wheelwright, Puritan Child, Native Daughter and Mother Superior provides a chilling and moving account of Wheelwright's ancestor who was abducted by Native American warriors from her Maine home in the 1600s. In the excerpts she reads aloud for The Drum , Wheelwright tells us about her own search for her ancestor, and recounts Esther's abduction, set in the context of the history and politics of the time. Not for the faint of heart, these excerpts nonetheless offer a vivid look at a [...] more


Monday, July 18, 2011

Carla Panciera's "All of A Sudden" paints an insightful portrait of a unusual young girl in a small New England town. Albina is odd enough to be exotic, strange enough to be awkward, and a source of mingled concern and attraction for the the narrator who befriends her during their childhood and adolescence. Watching Albina, trying at times to correct her and perhaps save her, the narrator reflects on her own changing sense of self. "All of A Sudden" originally appeared in print in the New England Review . [...] more


Monday, June 20, 2011

Amy Yelin's essay "Torn" takes us through a daughter's experience guiding her father through the rituals following her mother's death. Then things get complicated, as Yelin deals with the discovery of her father's secretive relationship with another woman. In exploring that relationship, and the new family dynamic that emerges after its often humorous revelation, Yelin sheds light on the impulses that lead us to reject or welcome one another. [...] more

ASKOLD MELNYCZUK excerpt from Excerpts from SMEDLEY's Secret Guide to World Literature

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fifteen years old and educated beyond his years, beset by the chaos of his family and a possibly pregnant girlfriend, Jonathan Levy Wainscoting IV narrates Askold Melnyczuk's novel-in-progress Excerpts from SMEDLEY's Secret Guide to World Literature . Woven through with literary, philosophical, and cultural references, Jonathan's narrative muses on his parents' and his friends' complicated lives on the eve of his forced summer's-long departure from his Cambridge home. Excerpts from SMEDLEY's Secret Guide to World Literature first appeared in the June 2011 issue of The Drum , and represents 02139 [...] more


Monday, May 23, 2011

In Nina Badzin's short story "David," a post-delivery hospital room is the setting for a skirmish between husband and wife as they debate their new son's name. The decision is rife with social, cultural, and religious implications, seeming to set husband and wife apart even as it brings mother and child together. [...] more

RAHNA REIKO RIZZUTO excerpts from Hiroshima in the Morning

Monday, May 16, 2011

Rahna Reiko Rizzuto's memoir Hiroshima in the Morning weaves together her personal experience during a research sojourn in that city with her growing understanding of the complex political, social, and cultural issues that surround the nuclear bombing and its aftermath. She reads here from three sections of the book, examining the stresses on her marriage as she undergoes this months-long separation from her family, her relationship with her aging mother, and her own changing sense of self. Her writing examines the challenge of memory--what happens when it fails us, and when we fail it by choosing [...] more


Monday, May 9, 2011

Rural Greece is the backdrop for Sandra Jensen's "Square Root," a story propelled by the complex relationships between a mother and her children, the mother and the men she captivates, and a group of village Greeks and the foreign family living among them. Told from the point of view of the little girl, "Square Root" turns a trip to buy a pet goat into a study of social and sexual power. [...] more


Monday, April 11, 2011

In Drew Balfour Jameson's short story "Drown," a fishing trip--and the gutting, cleaning, and cooking of the day's catch--provides the setting for a wary encounter between a teenaged boy and the new man in his mother's life. "Drown" renders the details of fish-handling with vivid detail, and allows the relationship between the boy and the man to emerge with subtelty, though just as clearly. [...] more


Monday, April 4, 2011

"What is it like to be the daughter of a Nazi? " That is the question Christiane Alsop sets out to answer in her essay "Presumed Guilty". Reflecting on her father's tales of his accounts during wartime Germany, contemplating her at-times strained relationship with her father over the years, and her own reactions to the ebb and flow of power, Christiane is torn by the equal tugs of resignation and revelation. Revelation wins out, as she conveys the moral, ethical, and personal challenges of living with that difficult question. [...] more

SARAH NAGER Horseshoe Hunt

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sarah Nager's "Horseshoe Hunt" brings a weary young woman and an enthusiastic little boy together on a beach where their attitudes and world views collide over a horseshoe crab. [...] more


Monday, January 10, 2011

Steven Brykman's essay "You Know How It Is" puts a comical spin on Jewish identity, Hasidic fashion, and the perils of running errands when your girlfriend finds you annoying. [...] more

KATRINA GRIGG-SAITO The Original Feminist

Monday, December 20, 2010

Katrina Grigg-Saito's essay "The Original Feminist" provides a tender portrait of her grandmother Mimi who did it all--worked as a hairdresser, raised five children, tailored stylish clothes, and advocated for education--in the pre-Civil-Rights South. [...] more


Monday, November 29, 2010

Bret Anthony Johnston closes his reading at the November 15 Four Stories event by announcing he will be plagiarizing Jamaica Kincaid's famous story "Girl". Here is his short piece "Boy". [...] more


Monday, November 29, 2010

Bret Anthony Johnston spins a story about loss of innocence, loyalty, and betrayal from a simple prompt: one sentence from an author's correspondence. Bret's sentence? "Sex doesn't start on an eighteenth birthday at midnight. " [...] more


Monday, November 22, 2010

Reading at the November 15 Four Stories event, Ethan Gilsdorf begins with a boy facing a woodchuck, and leads us through a humorous and complex contemplation of the nature of play, cruelty, and kindness, in his essay "Just To See If I Could". [...] more

DEBORAH MILSTEIN A Yiddish Vocabulary

Monday, September 27, 2010

A feisty grandmother, Yiddish nicknames, and a hospital stay come together in Deborah Milstein's "A Yiddish Vocabulary. " Milstein's essay offers a reverie on Jewish heritage and on the words that bind family together. [...] more


Monday, September 13, 2010

In an excerpt from her novel BURN, South Carolina-based Alexis Stratton writes about a teenage girl dealing with the aftermath of a fire and her mother's curious take on fate. [...] more


Thursday, September 9, 2010

As a young girl faces the break-up of her home town, she confronts a larger tragedy in her own family. The competing forces of dissolution and re-collection meet in journalist and fiction writer Leslie Schultz's short story "Drowning". [...] more


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pennsylvania writer Jamye Shelleby's short story "Twenty Five" contemplates the metaphysics of loss through a brother-sister relationship remembered through markers in time. [...] more

VESTAL MCINTYRE Tickle or Torture

Monday, July 5, 2010

In his essay “Tickle or Torture,” Vestal McIntyre recounts his Wednesday-night teasings as the youngest of seven in an Idaho town. While his parents are attending Bible study, McIntyre is poked, prodded, tickled, and tortured by his siblings, although all he really desires is to be left alone. [...] more


Monday, July 5, 2010

While her parents are attending her baby cousin’s circumcision ceremony, the teenage narrator of Jonathan Papernick’s “Skin for Skin” invites an intriguing new boy from school over to her home. The narrator is not Jewish, as her parents are, but her views on religion and family begin to change as she contemplates sleeping with the boy, demanding of him an intriguing bargain. [...] more

LAUREN GRODSTEIN This Truth I'm Telling

Monday, June 14, 2010

The narrator of Lauren Grodstein’s “This Truth I’m Telling” was a bartender in the World Trade Center. At a jobs convention for workers displaced after 9/11, Martin thinks about the life and the people that he has lost. He wonders which is truer: the optimistic exhortations of the jobs speaker, or the resignation he feels. [...] more


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

At the turn of the 19th century, Albert wakes to find himself penniless and paperless, with no memory of his travels and the time he has been walking. In this excerpt from her unpublished novel, Fugueur, Maud Casey writes about a man caught in a fugue state, lost in time and place as he walks through France from town to town. [...] more


Monday, May 24, 2010

A palace guardsman speaks for his battalion in Ellen Meeropol’s “Watching Her,” describing how the soldiers’ affection for a young noblewoman must give way to obedience during a civil war. Following orders, they must punish the woman’s allegiance to the rebel cause, and to her rebel lover. [...] more

DEBORAH BLICHER Gotta Move the Cow

Monday, May 24, 2010

In “Gotta Move the Cow,” Deborah Blicher recounts her work as a patient registration receptionist in a remote African hospital. The essay excerpt paints a vivid picture of a rural community as western medicine tries to help a desperate mother and her sick son. [...] more


Saturday, May 1, 2010

In “Caiman,” Bret Anthony Johnston’s narrator details a parent’s fear over a young girl’s abduction from a Texas town. Johnston story examines the nature of evil, and explores the limits of our ability to protect against it. [...] more

JENNA BLUM The Stormchasers

Saturday, May 1, 2010

https://drumlitmag. com/index. php? page=bio&display=162 In Jenna Blum’s excerpt from her second novel Stormchasers, Karena searches through storm-ravaged terrain for the twin brother she hasn’t seen in twenty years. She knows Charles will risk his life to seek the storm, drawn by its danger and its energy. about the author [...] more

EB MOORE Kennebec

Saturday, May 1, 2010

EB Moore’s “Kennebec” finds its protagonist struggling to come to terms with the drowning of his young stepson. As Carl mourns by the river that has taken the boy’s body, he wrestles with his guilt and with his first attempts to regain a normal life. [...] more

theme: comedy

theme: crisis

theme: relationships

theme: family

genre: essay

novel excerpt

short fiction


under 10 min

under 20 min

under 30 min

under 40 min