I was lucky to find two powerful stories, one from a seasoned writer with many books and one from a writer for whom this story/chapter represents the first publication.

I’d read Jen Beagin’s book as it gathered, and each of the chapters rang like a story. They are striking for the wry,  knowing, and sad weave of the narrator’s mind and the very real world of her occupation: house cleaner. There is a viable and tangible texture to the world of the stories. You’ll see in this story “Betty” that the outer story of her work and the inventory are capturing. Betty is immediately vivid and funny and then the story leads us deeper into shadow. Jen Beagin’s entire set of stories fuse into a novel which is comic, rueful, and deeply felt. I’m happy to present one of her stories here.

This story “Two-Person Show” by David Kranes is just fierce. I’ve always been taken by David Kranes' fiction (and his drama). Not just its ardent imagery and the angular and surprising juxtapositions, but the strangeness of the stories, the extremity of the novels. The phrase “without a net” comes to mind. You’ll see. Immediately he immerses us in a sensory world of people we know and then they move out. It all asks us new questions, gets strange. David is a true artist and he’s written in a hundred ways about art and how it colors love; and his painter Hunt goes fearlessly on the search. This story travels the west and offers a complicated portrait of familial affection. There is nothing nifty here, no easy take away. But the story takes us anyway.

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