The Furious Gazelle

Literary as hell.

Page 2 of 46

“Deepwater,” a short story by Rachel Chalmers

Life wants to be; life doesn’t always want to be much; life from time to time

goes extinct…. Life goes on.

 

—Bill Bryson, A Short History of Nearly Everything

 

I have to write everything down while I still remember.

Dispatch called at 3 a.m. A hospital in Monterey. Insurance had sent a car.

I sat on the porch in the dark, reading the patient’s file. Erik Hagestad. A marine biologist and diver, a scientist at the research institute. He’d brushed against deepwater coral. The abrasions were severe. Antibiotic noncompliance led to sepsis. Headlights swept over me. My ride.

The driver had a serene soul. As he drove, he was thinking of his wife and daughters. Not words, just images. Very specific. The little one grinning, having lost a tooth. His wife’s hands forming masa into tortillas. It made for a peaceful drive.

In Monterey the sky was lighter. The air smelled of cypress and the sea. I tipped the driver $2,500. It was all I had on me. Nurse Devon Jagler met me in the lobby. She walked me to palliative care. A man stood outside the patient’s room. He was weeping. The nurse introduced him. Somebody Smith. Milton?

“Are you the husband?” I asked. Continue reading

Book Review: Open Me by Lisa Locascio

Review by Tess Tabak

When a mixup sends Roxana, an 18-year-old girl, to Copenhagen, a mysterious Danish man named Soren whisks her away to live out one of his sexual fantasies.

I’m not quite sure I’d describe Open Me as an erotic novel, even though it’s marketed as such. It contains elements of that genre – the story exists in somewhat of a fantasy state. Through a series of odd circumstances, our heroine is trapped in another country, completely alone, at the mercy of an attractive stranger. But I’m hesitant to label this book erotica. There is a strong sense of the body in this book, but actually very little sex. It dwells more on the protagonist, Roxana, and her growing understanding of what it means to be a woman. She feels a strong desire at the start of the book to be acted upon, to be a completely passive participant in lovemaking. By the end, she learns that passivity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Erotica or not, Open Me is a gorgeously written book. The author, Lisa Locascio, takes impossible-to-describe feelings and puts words to them. Roxana talks about her “cathedral feeling,” the private thrill she felt when hearing music played on a church organ for the first time. The author has an intimate understanding of the inner workings of young girls, and the loneliness of not being able to share those special feelings. When Roxana tries to tell her best friend about the cathedral feeling, a sarcastic comment bursts the bubble. “And again I was a bag of feelings with no start and no end, a tunnel through which sensation moved.” Continue reading

“Room and Board,” flash fiction by T.K. Lee

“Why’s it matter? Why’s it matter?” Shelda—she calls herself Shelda now that enough years have passed — is yelling and she’s in the living room and she knows better than to yell in the living room, but she’s yelling and she’s yelling, and repeating, “Why’s it matter?” but it’s as much a yell as it is a point-of-fact that she knows (that we all know) can’t be taken as fact if it ends in a period, so she makes it look like a question—it’s that same loud spoken yell the desperate do at the last minute, or no , it’s that sudden fact that dresses for the occasion, always in season, or is the—

“Shut up, Curtis.” From Shelda.

“I’m not talking to you.” From Curtis.

“Goddamn, he shit on the floor. He shit on the rug. Our father shit on the rug in the goddamn living room.” This is Denise talking.

And he had. Continue reading

Book Review: This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Review by Tess Tabak

In This Mournable Body, a woman named Tambudzai grapples with the harsh realities of living in Zimbabwe after the Revolution of the 1990s.

The author, Tsitsi Dangarembga, writes on familiar topics (anxiety, existential dread) but set against a backdrop that’s truly harsh and depressing. Tambu is mistrustful of white people living in Zimbabwe – but this isn’t the crystal clear “us vs. them” of books set further in the past, like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. The white people in this novel are somewhat further removed from the atrocities of their ancestors. In modern Zimbabwe, the lines have blurred. The white people that Tambu loathes haven’t done anything “wrong,” per se, except for profiting off the crimes of previous generations. Tambu acknowledges her advantages – she received a Western education at a prestigious school – but oppression means that she still can’t find a suitable job, unable to tolerate the way that white men steal her work for their own, or how she’s paid far less than her peers just because she’s black. Continue reading

“The Lantern Bearers,” A Drama in One Act by Marc Aronoff (Excerpt)

Copyright © 2017  By Marc Aronoff

 

SYNOPSIS

The Lantern Bearers is a spirited, somewhat nonlinear dialectic between a man and woman that resemble the first two people on earth.  During the course of the one-act, HE and SHE enact numerous little scenes, embracing several characters, as a way of exploring their identity and expressing a daily routine. Their playful banter touches upon the existential implications of being on Earth, why we are here, fear of death, control issues, and a joy for life—all wrapped in the inevitable quandary of playing games as a way being in the world. Themes of bearing our inner light with dignity and of how we hide our light from world when feeling overwhelmed and stressed run through as undercurrent in the “poetic” drama.

 

The work draws inspiration from an essay written by Robert Louis Stevenson of the same title.

 

CHARACTERS:

 

HE (50-60)

SHE   (20-30)

 

As the scene opens it is late morning.

The stage hints of a forest and Garden (a few trees, stumps, rocks, leaves, dirt)… SHE, a uniquely attractive young woman, wearing a summer dress, speaks directly to the audience while HE, an older, athletic fellow, wearing a tee-shirt, and jeans, sits, brooding. SHE stands nearby.

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Q&A with Marina Shifrin, author of 30 Before 30: How I Made a Mess of My 20s, and You Can Too

One night in her twenties, Marina Shifrin penned a list of 30 goals to complete before she turned 30. Funny and full of heart, 30 Before 30 tells the story of what happened as she set out to achieve each one. (Read our review here.)

We asked Marina a few questions about her book, and what she’s doing now.

Q: How do you think approaching life with a 20-something mindset can help even people who have passed that part of their lives?

Your twenties are this magical time for debauchery and experimentation, a time when mistakes can be molded into lessons instead of life-altering set-backs. Wisdom comes with age, sure, but we begin to lose a little bit of our tolerance for risk-taking. I think everyone, regardless of age, should approach life with enthusiastic resilience—you don’t need to be in your twenties to continue to learn and evolve as a person (these important practices are simply easier when your younger, and you have fewer responsibilities).  

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Book Review: 30 Before 30: How I Made a Mess of My 20s, and You Can Too, by Marina Shifrin

Review by Tess Tabak

When life gives you lemons, it’s time to quit your shitty job, move to Asia, and start fresh. In 30 Before 30, comedian Marina Shifrin shares the story of how she turned her life around with one little list, and a lot of guts. This surprisingly optimistic collection of essays is full of humor, and even offers some advice about living with the reckless abandon of a 20-something that can apply to anyone, no matter your age.

One night in her 20s, Shifrin penned a list of “30 before 30” goals in a night of frustration over her shitty job and life. She found herself drifting after college, unhappy with how little she had accomplished. In a series of 30 essays, she takes us through each goal, and what happened as she tried to achieve them. The list ranges from small (take a bus tour of NYC) to life-changing (“fall in love for real”). Some items seem quirkier than others (such as “learn how to drink”) but they all have a special meaning to Shifrin which she explains. The collection coheres more than you might expect it to – some goals, even seemingly random ones, bring Shifrin closer to reaching big goals, or in some cases made her realize that opportunities she thought she wanted once upon a time aren’t for her anymore. Even when the essays are more standalone, they’re all at heart about growing up, and achieving your dreams.

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2018 Spring Contest Winner: “Emily’s Garden” by Brandon Hansen

I knelt in Emily’s garden for the first time years ago, just as her and her sister, Stephanie, were moving into their new apartment – the first floor of a duplex, a beautiful place, close enough to Lake Superior to smell the water, to feel its chill on the wind as it snuck between the latticed streets, the lavish houses downtown, where Emily said it was a miracle, really, to have found the place at all.

Emily pointed to bare patches of soil in the garden, dry, pockmarked with withered grasses from transplanted seeds carried in the cheeks of, I’m sure, chipmunks and gray squirrels, who laid down roots and forgot them there. Emily tells me there’ll be a rosebush, a something-colorful here, something-tall there. I tell her I can’t wait to see it.

On the porch, Stephanie talked to my brother, Nicky, who’s three years younger than me, five years younger than the sisters. They’re both smiling, and the sun pours down on all four of us, and I remember thinking that I felt so lucky, then.

I first met Emily and Stephanie as a flash in my vision, really, two shapes against the blizzard outside who stepped through the doors of the University Center I was situated in, where I was advertising Windows 8, standing next to a high-table, holding a tablet “thin as a dinner plate!” and “very fast!” and “has Paint!” Or something like that. I needed Christmas money, needed money to make it home, and as I whispered to Emily and Stephanie, snow swirling on the linoleum floors from the door they opened to come inside and escape the blizzard, I didn’t really feel very passionate about Windows 8. I gave them free sunglasses and book bags, and we drew flowers on the “innovative touch-screen!” of the tablets, while I told them about none of the features, except for all of the colors you could make if you slid your finger like “this” or “that” on the gradient. Continue reading

2018 Spring Contest Finalist: Poetry by Marissa Glover

STAINED

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2018 Spring Contest Winner: “Pain Packer” by Brandon Hansen

Pain Packer

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