Selling fireworks has traditionally been the province of carny types and college kids, though lately there’s been a change in this small Mississippi slice of the industry. I had driven up from New Orleans, where I live, to join a group of twenty-going-on-thirty-somethings from Lawrence, Kansas, led by my friend Cyrus, to sell fireworks in these hinterlands.
I explained how silly it was that they called me Scott. I didn’t even like writing it, especially in cursive, which was basically like drawing a small duck with brain edema. Nobody else went by a middle name, I explained. Middles were stupid. That’s why you put them in the middle, to hide them, to kill them, to shoot them with a flaming arrow and watch them explode.
From the archive.
Billy Mitchell, the most knowledgeable and masterful Pac-Man player ever to drop a quarter in a machine, is a hard man to find. When I asked one of his best friends, Walter Day, the best way to get in touch with him, Day told me, “First I spend an hour praying to God, then I visit a psychic, then I place a classified ad, then I hire a plane to carry a banner that says CALL ME BILLY! and make it fly all over South Florida. Because he might be anywhere.”
When Ben Metcalf’s first novel, Against the Country, was published in January of this year, it drew scant attention from the world we designate “literary,” and none from the marketplace of what we call ideas. But another look reveals that Metcalf seems guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of sentences written with intent—sentences of extraordinary interest and beauty, originality and art, drama and delight.
Battle sites from the Revolutionary War extend across the original thirteen colonies—from Maine to Georgia, from Appalachia to the Atlantic shore. In his series For the Revolution, Keith Yahrling explores the sites of those battles, searching for how the concepts of freedom and liberty are subtly embedded in the American landscape.
The moon shines over the Delta. A poet wanders home in the dark, her shadow extended by a streetlamp that flickers on, then off again. Alone in a bar, a young detective scratches hasty notes. She thinks she can hear the bartender humming Sam Cooke’s “You Send Me.”
He threw himself over her, his chest abruptly at her chin, his muscled legs thrillingly on either side of her like a sprung trap. She’d missed the rabbity ways of men, with their hard thighs and long feet. “Um, this is a canopy bed?” he murmured into her ear, nipping in a way that made her close her eyes. “And? You still have dolls, who are watching us.”
As we send our thoughts to the community of Charleston, South Carolina, we remember Marcus Wicker’s tribute to Trayvon Martin—this poem from our Spring 2015 issue.
I’m in the Marriott lobby surrounded by hundreds of puppets. They’re peeking from behind the fake motel plants, eating dinner with folded napkins in the River City Grille & Lounge, slipping into elevators. A group of puppets sings in the corner. A fountain bubbles in the lobby’s center, surrounded by fold-out tables, all of them filled with puppets.