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family (124)


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


Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Maya Detwiller's short story "Toads" explores the pains and rewards of adolescence through a child's habit of collecting toads. A giant supervising and creating miniature worlds, the story's narrator finds herself looking for a place--a place to fit, to belong, to grow in and away from. [...] 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


Friday, December 14, 2018

In 1970, the narrator and his several brothers drive off in a Duster to defend their mother's honor. The fact that most of them are high plays some role in the confusion that ensues. Alec Solomita's "Squirrel" is a tale of sibling allegiances and misunderstandings, told with tenderness and wit. [...] 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

DISPATCH: When Hobos Come Home

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Every summer since 1900, the National Hobo Convention takes place in Britt, Iowa, a tiny town whose two train lines have made it the center of hobo memory for generations. Virginia Marshall's Dispatch from the Convention captures the voices of hobos gathered to name their king and queen, and speaks of the idea of freedom and the reality of borders as they define the hobo way of life. [...] 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

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

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

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 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 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


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

S. E. Clark's "Foxes" places us in an unsettling world part fairy tale, part parable, in which the innocent and the sinister battle in the lives of children. Clark's spare prose tells the tale of a small community preyed upon in subtle ways by the story's eponymous foxes. [...] more


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

In this expanded version of her Dispatch piece from our September issue, Kyla Hanington writes of a road trip across Canada with her husband and children. As she moves eastward with her family, Hanington is driven by hope and curiosity, wondering if their eventual destination of Saskatchewan will yield what she seeks. "Saskatchewan" was recorded in Dispatch style, with ambient noise. [...] 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

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

Lessons in Romanian

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A young woman teaching English to her Romanian students is repaid with profound lessons of her own--in language and in the nuances of love, hope, and expectation. Interspersed with Romanian words and phrases, Lenore Myka's "Lessons in Romanian" slides its listener into a place between what is known and new, familiar and exotic. [...] more

Spice Memory

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Eson Kim ponders the language of spices and scents that passes between her and her mother as Kim tries to learn her mother's recipes. Kim evokes the power of the ingredients to summon memories and connection, and contemplates the poignant difficulty of mastering what her mother knows. [...] more

How To Club A Fish

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A young woman sees lessons in survival and violence handed down on a frozen Canadian lake. Ron MacLean's "How to Club A Fish" offers a vivid portrait of one family's dynamics in the world of a cramped cabin. [...] 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

Cold Winter

Monday, June 8, 2015

We can arm ourselves against cold and snow, but how do we defend against a family member's death? Stephen Dorneman's "Cold Winter" evokes the talismanic power of all our winter equipment and hints at precisely where it can fail to protect us. [...] more

Things in Boxes

Monday, June 8, 2015

When she and her partner pack up to move, a woman discovers she has brought to her new home more than just the objects she has boxed. Stacey Resnikoff's "Things in Boxes" is a tidy contemplation of what we own, what we collect, and what we discover as we move on. [...] 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

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

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

MuseFlash 2014

Monday, August 4, 2014

A mother's wartime theories, two daughters' misunderstandings, and the issue of sexual control as it's wielded by a mother and a father: combat and choice resonate here in Carol Sandel's "Birth Control". [...] 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

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


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

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

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


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

Reading at Brookline Booksmith

Monday, February 17, 2014

Booker-Prize-winning author Roddy Doyle reads from his latest novel The Guts in this recording of an event at Brookline Booksmith on February 6, 2014. Jimmy Rabitte, the protagonist of Doyle's first novel The Commitments , is now middle-aged and facing the difficult task of telling his wife he has cancer. Doyle's trademark spare and witty dialogue anchors the scene. Following the reading, Doyle discusses topics ranging from how he writes dialogue, the Irish recession, and footballer Wayne Rooney, all in his inimitably wry style. [...] 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

excerpt from Cubop City Blues

Monday, June 24, 2013

With rich language and striking images, the narrator of Pablo Medina's novel Cubop City Blues introduces himself, from the moment of his birth. His mother's infidelity, his aunts' various devotions, his father's cuckolding, and the rhythms and voices of this creative and created version of New York City--all of them come powerfully to life in this vivid excerpt. [...] 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, 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

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


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

D.J. LEE Collage

Monday, February 4, 2013

D. J. Lee's essay "Collage" contemplates the difficult intersection between mothers and daughters, dramatized in the placement of photographs in a collage. Lee's essay explores how a two-dimensional image "can express the depth of pain and love between generations. " [...] more

LEEYEE LIM Hereditary

Monday, January 28, 2013

The narrator of Leeyee Lim's "Hereditary" is a young girl troubled by her mother's illness and her sister's loss. Sharing a sandwich with a homeless man, she thinks of her family, and the strange ways in which people nourish each other. [...] more


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Frequent Drum contributor Steven Brykman strikes a serious tone in his essay "The Box" about a childhood visit to his older brother's residence  in a home for people with autism. Brykman tells a dramatic story of his long-ago encounter with a frightening element of his brother's life, and muses on the nature of shared experience, isolation, and love. [...] more

KATRINA GRIGG-SAITO Assailing Otherness

Monday, November 19, 2012

In "Assailing Otherness," Katrina Grigg-Saito confronts the ultimate food taboo and survives to tell the tale.  Grigg-Saito's essay explores the limits different cultures draw around what's approved and what's beyond the pale. Her experience of learning to cook in Laos begins with the desire to get to the heart of a culture and ends with a discovery about her own assumptions and willingness to set them aside. [...] more


Monday, November 5, 2012

In Sandra Jensen's "War", a young South African girl wrestles with her emerging sexuality and with the political, familial, and cultural conflicts taking place around her. Learning about the Boer War in school, Kimberly thinks instead of the more immediate aggression in her mother's relationship with her boyfriend. Attraction and repulsion, love and violence, mingle in this rich story. [...] more


Monday, October 22, 2012

Over the course of a slightly chaotic supper, Kay, the protagonist of Vicky Grut's short story "Debts" confronts her social, financial, and emotional obligations. The story is populated by vivid characters--a strange boy who keeps washing Kay's husband's car, Kay's unruly daughter, surprise guests with complicated histories--all of whom come together in a sometimes clashing interaction. Grut brings the story's various elements together in a thoughtful and moving conclusion. [...] more

JESSICA KEENER--Excerpt from Night Swim

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Set in affluent Boston surburbia in 1970, Night Swim follows the Kunitz family as tragedy breaks through the country-club lifestyle masking an array of simmering, emotional troubles. [...] more

ILIE RUBY Excerpt from The Salt God's Daughter

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ilie Ruby's novel The Salt God's Daughter tells the story of Ruthie and Naida, a mother and daughter bound by loss, by violence, and by family mysteries. In this excerpt, Ruthie describes a storm that sends her, her mother, and her sister into a desperate escape, even as internal storms continue to pursue this small and vulnerable family. [...] more


Monday, July 9, 2012

In Charles Rafferty's "Dump," a simple garbage trip becomes a test of a newly single father's need for his children's safety. While he worries, they are carefree. He is left to ponder his daughters' responses to a world in which people leave--sometimes without returning. [...] more


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A farewell gathering held by the Calcutta Heritage Society of Northern California is the starting point for Bharati Mukherjee's story "The Going-Back Party". Shefali Sinha watches as the actions of the guests reveal the envy, nostalgia, and uncertainty that direct their interactions. The story goes on to offer a wry and insightful meditation on distance and closeness, and on the ways in which our emotions can surprise us. [...] more


Monday, May 7, 2012

In Colette Sartor's "Daredevil," a little girl becomes the catalyst for unsettling and then tragic events in the lives of a young mother, Grace, and her son Aidan. The story explores issues of faith, risk-taking, and the limits of sympathy, and looks at the many ways in which a home can be threatened. [...] more


Monday, April 23, 2012

Jyotsna Sreenivasan's "Home" explores exactly the nature of that concept for young Amiya as she returns to 1970s Ohio after several years of childhood in her native India. She is in the position of being both immigrant and emigrant at the same time. As Amiya navigates her return to American culture and second grade, Sreenivasan sheds new insight on what it means to belong and to be different. [...] more

ANGELA FOSTER Shards of Glass

Monday, April 16, 2012

Angela Foster's "Shards of Glass" finds a brother and sister fighting their step-father with whatever tools they have--a knife, a gun, anger, and rejection. But books, escape, and the imagination turn out to be just as powerful as these young people stand up to the bully who runs their house. [...] more


Monday, March 26, 2012

"Placenta" completes the trio of flash fiction pieces from Irish writer James Claffey for The Drum . Here, a son watches as his parents react to a miscarriage. Themes of pain and nourishment run through this narrative which concludes with a strange communion between mother and child. To hear the other two flash fiction pieces by James Claffey, click here . [...] 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

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


Monday, November 14, 2011

In Lisa Korzeniowski's "While You Were Gone", a mother's night out leaves her children to do whatever they want, thrilled to be free from a parent whose weaknesses and failures are all too apparent.  But their experience of exhilaration quickly slides into yearning for their mother's love and for the return of her questionable authority. [...] 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


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


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


Monday, June 27, 2011

Michelle Seaton's "Low Tide" takes a tide pool as the starting point for its study of independence and growth. A child's discovery becomes the source for a mother's discovery too, as parent and child explore the water's edge. [...] 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, 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

GINA OCHSNER Sleeping Beauty

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gina Ochsner's "Sleeping Beauty" is a retelling of the old story, set in Yakusha, one of the coldest parts of Russia. In this version, the beauty of the title is a young girl working in a Russian market, seemingly trapped inside her kiosk until a suitor with an unlikely errand frees her. Ochsner's prose mingles the lush details and fantastic elements of folk tales with the realities of the contemporary world. [...] 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


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

JULIETTE FAY excerpt from Deep Down True

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Juliette Fay's novel Deep Down True follows Dana Stellgarten as she finds her feet after a divorce. In this excerpt, Dana encounters an unusual--and unusually-colored--addition to her usual array of daily parenting challenges. [...] 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

ILIE RUBY The Language of Trees

Monday, February 21, 2011

Ilie Ruby's novel The Language of Trees is set in upstate New York and greatly informed by the Seneca Indians, whose lore imbues the book with spirituality. In 1988, the Ellis children set out on a stormy night in a canoe borrowed from the Songos next door to escape their brutish father. Luke, the youngest, drowns, and his older sisters are never the same: Melanie turns to drugs while Maya suffers bouts of catatonia. Years later, Grant Songo returns to his family's lake cabin after separating from his wife. [...] more


Monday, February 14, 2011

Miriam Novogrodsky writes about growing up an outsider in Montpelier, Vermont, and the year her father's winter obsession turned to economical meat-eating and the creative use of the compost pile. This is a tale of chest freezers, prairie bonnets, and snowshoe picnics with unusual sandwiches. [...] more

CD COLLINS The Vigilantes of Vance

Monday, December 6, 2010

CD Collins' essay "The Vigilantes of Vance" is a portrait of her candy-eating, derringer-toting, fast-driving mother, and a drily funny story of the woman's power to enthrall those around her. [...] 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

LYNNE GRIFFIN Sea Escape (a central chapter)

Monday, November 29, 2010

At the November 15 Four Stories event, Lynne Griffin reads a central chapter from Sea Escape , her novel about the ties between a mother and her daughter, inspired by a collection of family letters. To hear Lynne read the first two chapters of the novel for The Drum, click here and here . [...] more


Monday, November 22, 2010

Michelle Hoover reads from her novel The Quickening at the November 15 Four Stories event, choosing a scene that dramatizes the themes of loss and perseverance at the novel's core. [...] 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


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

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


Monday, July 12, 2010

Allison Williams’ “Snake” finds two children playing in a muddy yard. Their game turns to a scuffle made dangerous when their father returns, sure to be angry at the mess they’ve made. Williams’ brief piece offers an intense study of the blurred line between protection and harm. [...] 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

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


Monday, June 21, 2010

A Halloween dinner with her estranged father and his new wife exposes tensions and fault lines in Claudia’s world. A single mother with a young son, she tries to preserve the spirit of trick or treat against her father’s wishes, until finally the stressful meal veers towards a new and alarming direction. [...] more

LYNNE GRIFFIN Sea Escape, Chapter Two

Monday, June 7, 2010

In the second chapter of her novel Sea Escape , Lynne Griffin writes from the point of view of Laura’s mother, Helen. It is 1951 and Helen has just watched her boyfriend, Joe, depart for Samson Air Force Base. During his absence, she finds a new independence through work, despite her father’s wishes. [...] 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


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Michelle Hoover’s essay “Our Litter Bertha” recounts her discovery of her great-grandmother's journal, the document which she later used to inspire her novel, The Quickening . Hoover ponders the stories of her Midwestern family found in diaries and letters. She contemplates her upbringing and the consequences of her relocation from Iowa to Boston. The essay is a vivid study of the connection between identity and place. [...] more


Monday, May 24, 2010

Nathan Poole’s “Raw Milk Fever” begins at the turn of a young girl’s fever, brought on after she drank raw milk on a dare. Her brother narrates the piece, evoking the daze of heat and anxiety that lingers over this farm family during the girl’s illness. [...] 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

GRACE TALUSAN The Girl in The Red Dress

Monday, May 24, 2010

In Grace Talusan’s “The Girl in the Red Dress,” Rodrigo sees the eponymous girl. But is it a ghost or a hallucination—or perhaps a sign of illness? During a visit to the doctor with his mother, Rodrigo tries to understand the intricacies of affection and intimacy and ponders what wealth means. [...] 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

AIMEE LOISELLE Three Women Wishing For A Boy

Monday, May 3, 2010

Aimee Loiselle’s“3 Women Wishing for a Boy” follows three generations of young women hoping to win their mother’s love while they respond to pregnancy, love, and sometimes both at once. [...] 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


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Elinor Teele’s “Covenant” offers a modern retelling of the story of Noah’s Ark. Teele’s Noah packs his family’s pets, his wife, and their three grown children into a dingy scallop boat, along with a few beers. [...] 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