The Permanent Ache by Gary J. Garrison
“Last week we put out cigarettes on our wrists…”
A Woman Should Have Legs by Robyn Goodwin
“The problem with Nancy’s suicide attempts was that nobody knew about them…”
Mostroferrato, Ancient Stronghold of the Briscoletti Family by Sam Martone
“Go south to a town with a tower towering beside it…”
Accidents by Ian Riggins
“Simple wooden things, painted white, with the usual assortment of bouquets and wreaths—the crosses stared up at me…”
Her Last Friday by Lucas Southworth
“Three months ago, the girl had three months to live…”
To the Wall by Holly M. Wendt
“The inside of her car bakes…”
Mix-tape (#4) With the One I Still Haven’t Learned the Lyrics to by Mark Jay Brewin Jr.
“I couldn’t tell you how early I learned and lost the words…”
Jack Listens to the Language People Use by Kevin Brown
“When Wendy told us she had lost her…”
French Carousel by Susana H. Case
“Midnight in Paris, the party scene at the …”
Let there be spaces in your togetherness by Susana H. Case
“Let there be spaces in your togetherness…”
Imaginary Waltz with a Woman Wearing a Dress of Virga by Christopher Petruccelli
“Her silhouette is caught between windows and hanging …”
The Heron Rookery by Timothy Shea
“Now that the storm clouds have settled like sleeping dogs above the pasture…”
The Haircut by Timothy Shea
“While I know this road is not my river…”
Death Row Report by Dale M. Brumfield
“In 1992, my father toured Richmond, Virginia’s old Spring Street Penitentiary…”
Invalids. Girlfriends. Beer. by Brenna Horrocks
“I needed a change of tempo…”
Lights by Matthew Zanoni Mṻller
“On Saint Martin’s Day in Germany the children would go into the dark woods…”
Bret Hart & the Finished Dungeons of My Youth by Brian Oliu
“Legends are born here: of sweat soaked vinyl & broken bones…”
I grew up on a farm just outside of Leesburg, Virginia, that has become surrounded by sprawling, monstrous homes in the last five years. As the houses came up around us, I remember forming an idea on the kind of people who lived inside. I saw versions of my cousins, who’d spent their entire childhood living in the suburbs. I pictured them lounging in the dark of their basement, fighting over the remote control, reenacting wrestling matches and videogames, and, more often than not, injuring each other in the process.
This vision of violence and boredom encapsulated my view of the suburbs. Existence there seemed, in a lot of ways, devoid of creativity—a sort of cultural dead-zone. And yet I know this version of the suburbs is too easy. I often am reminded that before the houses surrounded the farm I spent most of my childhood feeling cut off, stranded in our little house situated in the middle of a cow field, a twenty-minute drive from town. I longed to be part of a larger community—a community I saw in my suburban friends who grew up in a four-block radius and interacted with one another on a daily basis. I felt constantly anxious about the possibility that I was somehow missing out on their fun. This version of the suburbs—the one that brings to mind my best friend’s backyard and the made up, ridiculous games we created there—seemed a place to strive toward, one that in a lot of ways I had romanticized.
For every moment I am reminded of the word “suburban” and its various connotations—ones that changed the term to refer to something ordinary—I think of the disparity between these two worlds of my childhood. So when I think of the suburbs, two seemingly mutually exclusive characteristics come to mind—one of camaraderie and one of violence. What I intended for this feature was not a final word on the suburbs, but instead a discussion of the socio-cultural and geographic space they occupy and their status as a place that is simultaneously romanticized and marginalized.
The pieces in this feature wrestle with this complexity—from the boys trying to make sense of the world through mastering what they’ve seen on television to the young woman nervously introducing her lover to her institutionalized father. They demonstrate longing—for achievement or recognition, for a place that’s far removed from them, for connections that are no longer possible. And perhaps that makes them suburban—or maybe it just makes them human.