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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

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

The Ideal Reasoner

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

S. D. Jones' short story "The Ideal Reasoner" gives a comic and touching twist to relationship trouble, as a Shelockian AI creates upheaval in a marriage--only to bring about a surprising resolution. [...] 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

Next Life

Friday, February 15, 2019

Frankie is a pet rat. And in Kaia Preus' story "Next Life," he is dying. As Zoe tries to soften his last moments, she tries, too, to find balance in her relationships with two men. Tenderness towards Frankie becomes her litmus test, but also the source of some surprising insights. [...] 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

Feeding Champion

Monday, December 31, 2018

When a robber encounters a hungry Golden Retriever while breaking into a house, the encounter evokes a poignant monologue about how to treat a dog and how not to stock a refrigerator. And Andrea Johnston's "Feeding Champion" is about much more than that. It's about the responsibilities we have towards each other, and about how we do what's right even when promises change. [...] 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

s w i m

Monday, November 12, 2018

What is held, what holds you, in water or in air? Marsha McDonald's story "s w i m" raises and explores these questions through the story of a girl taught to swim by her uncle. Learning much more than that about her body's resilience, the narrator connects her experience to the terrors and enticements of deep water. [...] 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

Happy Hour

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A tattoo on a woman's body becomes the locus of a complex interaction between power and passivity in Kate Wisel's short story "Happy Hour". Within a relationship marked with bruises and broken bones, the tattoo raises questions of independence and escape. [...] more

But That's Not The Way It Feels

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Wednesday Fiasco is how Eva Dunsky refers to the sudden end of an adolescent relationship. "But That's Not The Way It Feels" is a wry account of a break-up, tinged with the melancholy wisdom of Jim Croce and youthful perspective. [...] more


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A swamp is home to an imagined panther named "Fen" in Kate Lassell's eponymous story. Narrated by a precocious kid named Judith, the story follows a father and daughter fighting to preserve a threatened marsh--and working to sustain their small family after a tragic loss. [...] 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


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

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


Friday, December 16, 2016

The narrator of Jo-Ann Bekker's "Riptide" insists we can believe her. 'Believe me when I tell you,' she says, many times. The story asks us whether we can trust this tale of infidelity, and whether even the woman telling us the story is certain of anything beyond the strong pull of desire. [...] more

Letting Him Go

Friday, December 16, 2016

Alysia Abbott's essay tells the story of romantic risk--the risk of letting someone go in the hope and belief not only that it's the right thing to do, but also that it may be the only way to hold on. A Cat Power song, a striped shirt, and a Ukrainian restaurant all play a role in this tale of love. [...] more

Five Wishes

Thursday, September 22, 2016

"Five Wishes" unfolds in as many episodes, each one telling a linked variation on a tale of a boy, his mother and father, a stream, a shovel, and a piece of purple quartz. Taken together, these episodes are like facets on a stone, revealing new insights on this little family while at the same time allowing us to see the heart of the story. [...] more

The Man on the Train

Thursday, September 22, 2016

A train makes the perfect setting for this story about a woman in limbo--between jobs, between countries and cultures, between homes. Aine Greaney's "The Man on the Train" turns a conversation with a stranger into a study of belonging, as Lorna, Irish and recently arrived from her home in England, travels into Boston from her sister's suburban home. [...] more

The Art of Drumming Badly

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

To hear Melanie Senn tell it, she is not a good drummer. But what matters more than her musical and percussive talent is her skill in telling the story of how she took to the drums--at first as a way to connect to her musician husband, and then as a way to experience delight. In "The Art of Drumming Badly," Senn shares her joy in learning something new and in learning not to care about inhibitions and expectations. [...] more

Some Plastic City Beyond

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The accidental meeting of former lovers shapes Daniel Higgins' "Some Plastic City Beyond. " Told mostly through dialogue, the story offers us the careful cadences of two people negotiating old wounds and new discoveries. [...] more

What The Spirit Rabbits Know

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

An earthquake shakes the narrator's world just as she is shocked by news of a friend's death. But it's in the violence done to the natural order that she registers her loss. Tending for a rabbit, the narrator of Katie DePasquale's "What The Spirit Rabbits Know" comes to understand some part of what makes us mortal and alive, what gives us a fragile resilience. [...] more


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sermonette and Tom meet at a concert. Tom is at the mic. Sermonette is watching. They go on to skirmish and flirt, resisting the monsters of Jane Flett's title even as those monsters grow within them. The narrative seethes with passion and inventive language as it takes us through this richly unconventional love story. [...] more

Fish and Spoons

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A lesson in fly fishing focuses the relationship between an Irish father and son. Looking for ways to connect, a son sees his own value weighed against everything else his father holds more beautiful. [...] 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

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

One City One Story: Jennifer Haigh's "Sublimation"

Monday, October 20, 2014

Jennifer Haigh's "Sublimation" is the Boston Book Festival's choice for this year's One City One Story, a project to promote reading and to create community around a shared reading experience. "Sublimation" first appeared in the Spring 2014 issue of Ploughshares . Jennifer Haigh will appear at the Boston Book Festival on October 25 to discuss the story. To download the audio recording of "Sublimation," right-click on the download button beside the play button, and save the mp3 to your computer. [...] more

MuseFlash 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

De Leon writes movingly about her grandfather's seeking forgiveness from the woman he abandoned in Guatemala. In "Lucky Woman," Luisa, De Leon's grandmother, meets him upon his return, passing defiant judgment upon him. [...] more

MuseFlash 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

The careful parsing of a phone message leads to a blossoming but perplexing romance. Caitlyn Kinsella's "It's Me" finds humor and poignancy in the intricacies of interaction. [...] 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

Do You Have a Place For Me

Monday, June 2, 2014

Two people meet at a half-way point between their homes and lives. But the encounter in Roxane Gay's "Do You Have a Place For Me" is no simple escape, but a shared confrontation--of the self, the body, and the heart. Gay's prose is both analytical--is this cheating? --and intensely figurative in this short and powerful story. [...] more

The Games They Played

Monday, May 12, 2014

These are not the fairy tales our mothers told us. The four episodes of Matt Bell's "The Games They Played" focus on Younger and Older, siblings whose rivalries offer an education in hidden and not-so-hidden violence. Bell experiments with the cadence and the content of fairy tales, making them at once new and ancient. [...] 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

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 17, 2014

The balky knobs on a Czech stove, the quirky signage on a Prague building, or the smile of a stranger on a train: these are the starting points for Allison Williams' essay about decoding the mysteries of life abroad. But more than geographical foreignness, Williams writes of the potential estrangement from one's partner and from certain crucial parts of one's identity. In "Courtesies," she explores how we navigate as we try to turn the right way. [...] more

Wing Woman

Monday, March 10, 2014

“Another thing of Zinfandel. We’re headed for the Coast," says the narrator of Jonathan Gotsick's "Wing Woman" when she agrees to go along with her recently-divorced friend to assume the story's title role. Toni escorts Shelley on a journey of escape and adventure rendered with vivid and particular--and humorous--detail. Gotsick's narrative leads the two women to an aging rock band and to a final performance whose bombast reveals the story's poignant heart. [...] 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

The Ghostzoo

Sunday, February 2, 2014

It's after a cataclysm of some sorts, a post-apocalyptic moment etched in miniature in Jody Azzouni's "The Ghostzoo". As a father and his daughter eke out an existence from the meager remnants of their former world, the little girl plays with a dollhouse. She learns as she plays about the world that is lost to her, until new arrivals start a new and perplexing cycle of creation and disappearance. [...] 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 Rock

Monday, January 27, 2014

The complexities of a date take on new dimension in Jennifer Hill Ozga's "The Rock". Ozga's story mines the rituals of contemporary dating for their vulnerabilities and power dynamics, setting her unnamed couple on a path of gentle but inexorable devolution. "The Rock" is a story about disappointment, rendered with a light touch through painfully comic details. [...] more

The Wurlitzer

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The tuning of a piano becomes the catalyst for a relationship between two unlikely individuals. Christ Craig's "The Wurlitzer" makes subtle use of its narrative voice to bring two lonely people together in a bond created through music and memory. [...] more

Ways to Break Me

Monday, January 6, 2014

In the hung-over aftermath of New Year's Eve, the narrator of Kate Wisel's "Ways to Break Me" finds herself exactly where she always is: in an apartment and in a relationship that is at once playground and cage. There are three people in these confined spaces, pushing and shoving at each other to assert themselves and get what they want. Wisel's story is striking for its physicality and its rendering of the drama of the body. [...] 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

Going as a Ghost

Monday, November 25, 2013

Halloween provides a touching backdrop for Erik Doughty's flash fiction piece about the emotional aftermath in a family dealing with loss. "Going as a Ghost" offers a bittersweet look at how we "go as" those who are gone. Doughty's piece is a featured selection from The Drum's Flash Fiction Open Mic held at last month'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

Sleeping Over

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chris Wiewiora's essay "Sleeping Over" explores the many complications of exactly that, when the people in question are teenagers, and one of them is presided over by his father. Trust, the truth, and independence are just some of the issues at stake not just in the event but in the messages surrounding it. [...] 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

JEAN RYAN What We Are Given

Monday, September 16, 2013

In "What We Are Given," Jean Ryan recounts the experience of taking in her mother-in-law despite the older woman's condemnation of Ryan's and her partner's sexuality. Ryan's essay asks us to consider the limits of obligation, and offers a moving exploration of the challenges of allegiance and commitment. [...] more

NICK DYBEK Three Summers

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In a summer rental shared by two families, a boy and a girl in Nick Dybek's "Three Summers" search for treasure in the secret corners of the house. Parents search for a different kind of treasure--a shared history whose adventure and romance now eludes them. Over the course of three summers, both adults and children wrestle with the pull of the past and the allure of the imagined. "Three Summers" appears in print in the Fall 2013 issue of Ploughshares, and in text on Ploughshares online. The story is read aloud for The Drum by [...] 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

Emma Trujillo

Monday, August 5, 2013

Emma Trujillo 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

Christina Wiese

Monday, August 5, 2013

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

John Glasfeld

Monday, August 5, 2013

John Glasfeld 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

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

SABINE HEINLEIN Pomp and Circumstance

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sabine Heinlein's essay "Pomp and Circumstance" traces the challenges and successes in the life of a young blind man negotiating life in New York. Heinlein gives us a vivid sense of the world as this young man experiences it, as she follows him through certain key milestones. A version of the essay first appeared in the American Literary Review where it was awarded the 2011 non-fiction award. [...] 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


Monday, April 29, 2013

Aine Greaney's "Sanctuary" is an eloquent meditation on the people and places that give us comfort, often in unexpected ways. With her mother's death as starting point, Greaney explores the notion of the individual in place and time, the connections that link us to history and to the present. [...] more


Monday, April 1, 2013

Judith McCormack's "Creation Stories" appears in the current issue (Issue Number 43) of the Harvard Review . "Creation Stories" is the tale of a relationship and the law--social laws, laws of attraction, and the laws that govern the creation of facts and identity. In McCormack's narrative, Elisabetta and Miles meet en route to a legal conference in Sicily, and proceed to build a connection founded as much on omission as communication. The story is read aloud by Katrina Grigg-Saito . [...] more

JOSHUA MALBIN The Mating Behavior of Great Tits

Monday, April 1, 2013

Joshua Malbin creates an avian drama for his short story "The Mating Behavior of Great Tits". It's a new genre, possibly with this story as its only example. Malbin's unusual story sets a drama of relationships and family in the world of birds, immersing the listener in one bird's struggle to establish a family and a place in his world. [...] 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

ROBERT ALAINE COUTURE Moment of Forgiveness

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Robert Alaine Couture's "Moment of Forgiveness" turns a Williamsburg, Massachusetts orchard into the setting for a fraught moment between lovers old and new. In just three minutes, Couture evokes the complications of long relationships and offers an intriguing twist on the idea of the snake in the garden. "Moment of Forgiveness" is our selection for the February 2013 round of Zip-Code Stories. [...] more


Monday, February 11, 2013

A violent flood provides the backdrop for the tentative relationship developing in Jackson Culpepper's "The Last Thing To Go. " As the storm waters surge, a young man searching for stability--and for connection with the young woman he meets at church--confronts new questions about himself and about the nature of love and salvation. [...] more


Monday, January 21, 2013

The narrator of Ioanna Mavrou's "Lucky Cat" invests the eponymous figurine with hope, bravado, and fear in this flash fiction piece about a relationship challenged by illness. [...] more

MARY O'DONOGHUE Honest, Or Nine Precious Insights

Monday, January 7, 2013

It's only one sentence, but "Honest, Or Nine Precious Insights" offers a vivid portrait of a man looking for companionship. As he weighs the merits and disadvantages of a blind date at "a tea place," Mary O'Donoghue's narrator expresses both vulnerability and confidence, confusion and insight. [...] 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, 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

MARY MEDLIN Not Now But Soon

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mary Medlin's short story "Not Now But Soon" follows Connor as he crosses Somerville to pay the rent on his girlfriend's apartment. But Afshan is dead, and the tragic event that caused her death haunts Connor, rendering his rent-payments a tangible form of inadequate expiation. The story is shot through with themes of atonement and guilt as it offers an in-depth portrait of a young man and woman as they fall in love. [...] more

JEN BERGMARK Turn of the Century

Monday, June 25, 2012

"The world will end soon. " So says the protagonist of Jen Bergmark's "Turn of the Century. " An old rock and roller who views himself as a has-been, the singer is fascinated by Nostradamus and by predictions that the millennium will send us all into chaos. He looks ahead to New Year's of 2000 as the confirmation of the ending he has experienced in his career and his life. But when a young concert promoter recognizes him at an LA flea market, his life, like the century, takes a different turn. [...] 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

JOHN HAGGERTY The Other Half of Graceland

Monday, March 19, 2012

A teenaged girl narrates John Haggerty's "The Other Half of Graceland," describing a trip to the eponymous home of Elvis along with her mother, who is looking for what the magazines call more pizzazz in her life. Armed with a make-up kit, an expertise for matching blush to skin tone, and a keen eye for adult behavior, Lisa steers them through their pilgrimage and tries to mediate the relationship between a young man they meet there and his father. As Lisa manages her mother's own delicate emotions, Graceland becomes the setting for the revelation [...] more


Monday, February 27, 2012

The narrator of Vanessa Blakeslee's "Welcome, Lost Dogs" offers a combination of mercy and practicality, sentiment and realism, as she tries to recover her dogs, stolen from her Costa Rican ranch. An expat American, riding the borders between Nicaragua and Costa Rica, she encounters--and is part of--a world in which everything and everyone has a value to be assessed and calculated. She tries to find her way among old relationships and new communities, thinking about what she hast lost and what she might restore. [...] 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


Monday, November 14, 2011

Lauren Carson's "The Ironing" takes a domestic scene as the setting for a domestic undoing. Carson paints a detailed portrait of a woman's experience as a pair of pants becomes a wry battleground. [...] more

LEAH HAGER COHEN The Grief of Others

Monday, October 31, 2011

The New York Times Book Review called Leah Hager Cohen "one of our foremost chroniclers of the mundane complexities, nuanced tragedies and unexpected tendernesses of human connection. " Her reading of the prologue from The Grief of Others clearly demonstrates why she deserves the label. In this brief opening scene, Cohen describes with microscopic and eloquent detail the features of a newborn and the love his mother feels for him. Cohen raises moving questions about the fragility of life and about the limits of our [...] more

MICHAEL KULA excerpt from The Good Doctor

Monday, October 24, 2011

Michael Kula's novel The Good Doctor opens at the 1917 Wisconsin State Fair where a young veterinarian learns that tragedy has come into his life. With precise and powerful detail, Kula evokes the physicality of the world of David Roberts--both the strength of the body and its vulnerability that becomes all too apparent as the novel begins. [...] 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

BARRY JAY KAPLAN Marco Sells His Book

Monday, October 3, 2011

Barry Jay Kaplan takes on the world of publishing in his short story "Marco Sells His Book. " A group of friends is shaken by news that an underserving member of their Thursday night salon has reached what they view as premature success. The launch party for Marco's novel is shot through with jealousy and social strategizing, but comes to an encouraging conclusion. [...] more

JAMES MCGIRK The Tramp Steamer

Monday, September 12, 2011

James McGirk's short story "The Tramp Steamer" presents a side of Richard M. Nixon we've never seen before. McGirk imagines the young lawyer and his new bride traveling on a tramp steamer of the United Fruit Company to celebrate their first anniversary. Seasick, angry, jealous, Nixon reveals his inelegance to his wife who yearns for more glamour and glitz. McGirk takes the facts of the Nixons' actual 1941 trip and spins out an incisive and compelling story of bitterness and dreams. [...] more

ALEXANDRA JOHNSON excerpts from The Hidden Writer

Monday, July 11, 2011

Alex Johnson's The Hidden Writer (Doubleday 1997) explores the writer's journey from diary to published writings, and the negotiations between private and public work. In her chapter "The Married Muse," Johnson looks at the relationship between Leo and Sonya Tolstoy--as husband and wife, idol and fan, writer and scribe, and muse to muse. [...] more

CATHERINE ELCIK Why We're Swimming With The Fishes

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In Catherine Elcik's "Why We're Swimming With The Fishes," there are three people in one marriage: the husband, the wife, and Marlon Brando's Godfather. Over a North End dinner, the wife wants romance while the husband wants intrigue, simply the latest trouble in a failing marriage. [...] more


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

In Dawn Dorland Perry's "Do Us Part," a simple question posed to an old friend about his wedding reveals the complicated layers of a relationship, and the longing. ambivalence, and regret for what might have been. [...] more

NADINE LYNN KENNEY How to Meet Your Future Husband (and Almost Scare Him Away)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Nadine Lynn Kenney's "How To Meet Your Future Husband (and Almost Scare Him Away)" presents a nightmare mother on a Florida beach vacation. An oversexed parent, her parents' troubled marriage, her own attraction to a young vacationer, and an excess of alcohol are all ingredients in the narrator's bad trip. [...] more

LAURA PACKER Running Away With Greta

Monday, June 27, 2011

Laura Packer's "Running Away With Greta" focuses in on one night in the life of a little girl experiencing the temptation of escape and the pull of home. In miniature, this flash-fiction piece examines the complicated relationship between danger and comfort, risk and safety. [...] 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 18, 2011

Jonathan Papernick's essay "First Night" imagines his parents' wedding night and contemplates the marriage and eventual divorce that grew from that first evening. The essay is a brief but poignant snapshot of a young couple stepping into a new life. [...] more


Monday, March 28, 2011

Bruce Holland Rogers' short story "Snow and Lemons" follows Tibor as he tries to lend purpose to his retirement. His two goals--to bring pride to Hungary's younger generation, and to make his neighbor smile--prove to be more challenging than even he might have expected. A Budapest snowstorm is the backdrop for this story about an older man's persistence and his inspired adaptation to the routines of his life. [...] more


Monday, March 14, 2011

Susan Orlean followed up her recording of an excerpt from her Rin Tin Tin book for The Drum with an interview with Drum editor Henriette Lazaridis Power. Orlean asnwered questions about her interest in animals, why dogs hold such a unique place in our lives, and whether there's a place out there that is too boring to write about. She also gave valuable tips on making the most of solitary research travel and how to dine alone. The excerpt from Orlean's forthcoming [...] more


Monday, February 28, 2011

The narrator of Kevin Brown's "One Life" returns to Hong Kong after his wife's death from SARS with the sole mission to contract the disease himeslf so that he can be reunited with her. We follow the narrator through the city as he reflects on his marriage, and ponders the strange situation of trying to stay alive so that he can court a particular kind of death. "One Life" is read aloud by Actors' Shakespeare Project actor Bill Barclay . [...] more

STEVEN LEE BEEBER Blood-Red Nails, Pale Cold Hands

Monday, January 31, 2011

The narrator of Steven Lee Beeber's short story "Blood-Red Nails, Pale Cold Hands" contemplates the strange combinations of violence and tenderness that underlie his relationships with the important women in his life. The story begins with an accident witnessed in childhood and concludes with the scratches left from passion. [...] 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


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 29, 2010

Bret Anthony Johnston starts off his reading at the November 15 Four Stories /Drum event with "Porn Star," his entry for a dictionary of dirty words. [...] more

SHARON BIALLY Veronica's Nap

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sharon Bially's novel Veronica's Nap opens with the high winds of summer in the south of France, twin toddlers, and the pressures of painter's block. Hear the first chapter here, and read the rest at Veronica's Nap . [...] more

ANN KING Plumbing Problems

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ann King's "Plumbing Problems" sets a cancer diagnosis in the world of a plumbing supply company, where the bright white of a porcelain tub, and the cramped space of a backroom toilet give us a fresh look on an all too common event. [...] more

BOSTON BOOK FESTIVAL The Web of Relationship Panel

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Courtesy of the Boston Book Festival, a recording of the Web of Relationship panel with Ann Hood, Brunonia Barry, and Joanna Smith Rakoff, moderated by Henriette Lazaridis Power. The discussion took place in the Rabb Lecture Hall of the Boston Public Library on Saturday, October 16th. We hope you enjoy the discussion of secrets in novels, structure, the obligations that come with connection, and how to write novels in the post-cell-phone age. Audience members asking questions include one author's blast from the past, a twentysomething who's not on Facebook, and a [...] more


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Shubha Sunder's "Climb" layers relationships between cousins, between mothers and daughters, and between brothers and sisters with the tug between two cultures. In Sunder's story, a voyage with Trupti's relatives visiting from America turns out to reveal the stresses within the older girl's seemingly perfect life. [...] more

JENNIFER HAIGH Claire of the Moon

Monday, October 11, 2010

Award-winning novelist Jennifer Haigh's "Claire of the Moon" tells the story of a little girl who can't tolerate the sun and the adults who try to shield her or to let her bask in its reflection. [...] more


Monday, September 20, 2010

Sandra Jensen's "The Good Wife," set in the South Africa of the 1950s, explores difficulties facing a politically motivated woman who has given up her anti-apartheid activities to look after her husband and young son. [...] more

A. IGONI BARRETT My Smelling Mouth Problem

Thursday, September 9, 2010

A. Igoni Barrett's "My Smelling Mouth Problem" brings together a Nigerian traffic jam, popular music, and a bad case of halitosis to tell a lively story about personal and cultural independence. [...] 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

PETE SMITH Testimony

Monday, July 5, 2010

The female narrator of Pete Smith’s “Testimony” tells the story of an affair that starts with a cloud of drinks and ends in the mystery of not knowing a partner. Smith explores the ways in which a self can become lost between a past and a present, youth and maturity--and intoxicating drinks and an even more intoxicating partner. [...] 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

ETHAN GILSDORF Loving the Momster

Sunday, June 27, 2010

In his essay “Loving the Momster,” Ethan Gilsdorf recounts his childhood after his mother’s 1997 death, specifically the childhood after his mother suffered an aneurism in 1978. Gilsdorf revisits his mother’s mercurial moods and changed attitude, and his own altered childhood, through emails from a childhood friend who only knew Gilsdorf’s mother after her aneurism. Despite the fragmented nature of his mother’s life, Gilsdorf is able to find and preserve a sense of her identity. [...] more


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lynne Griffin reads from the first chapter of her novel Sea Escape. After working a 12 hour nursing shift, Laura takes her two young children to visit her mother on her 77th birthday. But while she prepares to bake a cake for the occasion, Laura receives a phone call that could alter the course of her life, of her mother’s life, and of their rocky relationship. [...] more

LYNNE BARRETT Macy Is The Other Woman

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The narrator in Lynne Barrett’s story “Macy is the Other Woman,” is the other woman, conducting an affair with a softball teammate whose girlfriend she doesn’t want to hurt. Over a warm July 4th weekend in Washington, Macy comes to terms with the affair, pondering the complicated entanglements of infidelity and friendship. [...] more

LAURA SALAMY Signs of Life

Monday, May 17, 2010

The narrator in Laura Salamy’s story, “Signs of Life,” contemplates her relationship with her significant other, Charlie, while vacationing in Jamaica. While eating local cuisine, relaxing in the hotel, and taking walks on the beach, the narrator contemplates the changes in her relationship, including one change she is not sure she can forgive or forget. [...] more

RANDY SUSAN MEYERS The Murderer's Daughters

Monday, May 10, 2010

A grandmother’s funeral is the setting for this excerpt from Randy Susan Meyers’ novel The Murderer’s Daughters. Sisters Lulu and Merry are approached by their father, released for the event from prison where he serves time for killing their mother. Lulu narrates the scene, mingling adolescent bitterness with sensitivity to her sister’s needs and her relatives’ scorn. [...] 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

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