Posts tagged "characterization"
Salvage

Salvage

Tommy’s parents wave from the porch as our minivan pulls up. His dad smiles, and that’s when I see he’s missing about half of his teeth. Before retiring a few years back, Gerald had been a mechanic. During high school, he’d apprenticed at his uncle’s garage, then serviced army vehicles while stationed in Germany, then...
Letting It Be

Letting It Be

My Papa loves to watch the news. He has a chair, angled so that he and the television can be in a line. He plugs his computer in beside him, his lamp above him, the cords hanging within a hairy arm’s length. I think he feels safe there, huddled among the pictures of my mother...

Writing Trans Characters

When I was in my early twenties in the early part of the aughts, I gravitated towards anything with a transgender character. Hubert Selby’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the bizarre zombie flick and Guitar Wolf vehicle Wild Zero, The Kink’s “Lola,” Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild...

Bringing Characters to Life: An Interview with Susan Kushner Resnick

Book Reviews Editor Debbie Hagan interviews Susan Kushner Resnick author of You Saved Me, Too: What a Holocaust Survivor Taught Me About Living, Dying, Loving, Fighting and Swearing in Yiddish (Globe Pequot/skirt!, 2012). Resnick has been a writer and journalist for twenty-eight years. Her first book, Sleepless Days: One Woman’s Journey Through Postpartum Depression (St....
Afternoon Affair

Afternoon Affair

On the light rail after work I sit down next to a homeless man sitting next to his black plastic garbage bag stuffed full. He asks me for my name. He is friendly so I give it to him. He is Popeye, he laughs, I am Olive Oyl. He has the sour smell of the...

Incisions

The nurse who preps my mother for surgery is kind. She wears clogs and a smock with balloons and rainbows all over it. Her hair is pulled into a high ponytail. Overhead, the TV is tuned to Good Morning America. The sky over America is popsicle blue. “I like your uniform,” my mother says, her...

Darts

Davy has a scar on her forehead, just off center, as though it marks the edge of a third eye. All this third-grade year she has been telling us her history week by week. She’s been saying that soon she will get to the part where she acquires the scar. It’s Friday and we surround...

Cherry Red

John Gravely was our neighborhood house painter. He was never John, or Mr. Gravely. Just John-Gravely.  He was always cheerful and whistled when he worked. Sometimes, while he scraped and painted,  I’d climb the creaky wood stairs to the attic, where my parents kept an old office typewriter on an old metal stand that made...

Sobering

In the early ’80s, I would make drug runs to New York City in my dented blue Nova. I drove from a small town in Pennsylvania at my friend’s request. I felt superior to my friends in a way that can only come from being the single person in a crowd of like-minded people to...

Teeth

Everything belonged to Russell now. My mother was his wife, I was his son, we lived in his house—an isolated farm we didn’t need and couldn’t afford. Russell had started cutting trees off the property and selling the timber to make the mortgage payments. He was sharpening the teeth of a chainsaw on the front...

Choir

Courtney McDonell’s voice struck you; it slammed you right in the chest, and stayed there, in notes never pure or clear but throaty and rough and somehow resonant. That year I saw Mrs. Pritchard plead with her to use her diaphragm, said if she kept singing like that she was going to ruin her vocal...

Waiting on Cancer

I sit in a wheelchair alone in a dim hallway. I am waiting and it seems an eternity, parked against a wall, awkwardly abandoned in an anonymous dark corridor while the technician busies himself until one of the giant machines opens up. For once I have nothing to read and no one to talk to,...

Intro to Creative Writing

Professor Stevens dislikes donuts; the icing gets stuck in his beard. Fridays he breakfasts at Burger King before heading out to the lake, where he smokes cigarettes on the shore and ignores his wife’s phone calls. He idolizes James Dickey. He’s no good at fiction. The Department Chair’s out to get him. He strolls into...

Comfort Food

I woo Jeanne’s appetite with her favorite Southern foods. Grits, banana pudding, Miracle Whip, and bologna loaf on white bread. French dressing over cottage cheese. Sausage gravy over biscuits: pallid sauce so thick with grease that the leftovers will congeal, gray and lumpy. Tomorrow I will reheat them to mash over her toast. When she...

A Stranger at Dusk

Looking out the window of our front room at dusk that chilly day in the spring of my twelfth year, I saw a tall man weaving toward our front door. I was intrigued not only by his peculiar gait but also by the fact I did not recognize the man.  Strangers were rare in the...

The Moment

No sound from the kids, not for fifteen minutes. I trust they’re asleep. I get my tiger-striped chenille robe off the back of the bathroom door and put it on over my jeans and flannel shirt. I am that cold. Lately I stand sometimes for a whole half-hour over the floor furnace. Other times I...

Homeroom

We were the leftovers, assigned to Home Room in the Home Ec room, tucked away in an upper corner of the aging Horace Mann Junior High School. Inexplicably, our Home Room teacher, Mr. Roan, taught Shop. Every morning he climbed the flights of stairs from the noisy, oily machines of the basement, clutching his coffee...

The Watch

It dangled like a bracelet from my aunt’s wrist. Shiny gold links clinked softly as she arranged her hair in the mornings, curls teased and then tamed. The watch clanked against an aerosol can of hairspray, dinged against a crystal bottle of perfume that she raised momentarily to her neck. I must have been the...