Best of the Net 2013  


Valerie Arvidson's "Here, There" from Anomalous Press

Linnea does not finger anything from the past; she holds tightly to herself. Her eyes are confused about the present, about the future. Her eyes are merry, in that they are quick, skeptical. Her neck pulls away, stiffly, like a scientist's. She does not understand what a photograph is. But she suspects it is some kind of theft.
Kiese Laymon's "You Are the Second Person" from Guernica Magazine
You begin typing, "Hey Brandon, this is my fourteenth thorough revision for you in four years. I know I'm not changing your mind and that's fine. Thanks for telling me what real black writers do and what Oprah likes. You never told me you met her. Anyway, the black teenagers in my book are actually purposely discussing 'racial politics' in awkwardly American ways. Their race and racial politics, like their sexuality and sexual politics, is somehow tied to every part of their character. My book is unapologetically an American race novel, among other things. I'm still not sure why you bought the book if you didn't dig the vision."
Karen Salyer McElmurray's "Saved" from Still: The Journal
I'd heard the voice of god in the thunderstorms and powerful winds that beset our subdivision that summer.
Jonathan Rovner's "Furious Spaces" from Sundog Lit
The town is a mile end to end and I walk everywhere. This is viewed with suspicion. I walk on sidewalks, in those few places there are sidewalks. I walk along gullies. I walk the graveled edge of Highway 60, hugging close to the guardrail. Tonight I walk to Wal-Mart and buy a cheap stereo. I keep my eyes down, dodge the obese women in their mechanized carts. Teenagers push strollers and talk on their phones in some strange patois that linguists might identify as English. I tell myself not to judge, but it proves too tempting. I judge them all guilty. My punishment for this lack of compassion? Exile, exile.
Nicole Walker's "Microclimates Lower Sonoran" from Waccamaw
Burrowing owls burrow here. Native to this part of the desert, they've survived drought and heat and dust storm. They're not surviving development. Even though there are empty subdivisions all over Phoenix, the hope that this new construction, in this part of town, will lure the buyers over. If the owls love it there, won't the people? Although burrowing owls are protected by federal law, they're not endangered in Arizona. Developers say that they call in wildlife control to move them before they bulldoze, but they see so many of them—it must be hard to take their protected-status seriously. But of course they see so many of them. Where they're bulldozing is the last place they live.