I finally read the much-acclaimed story collection by Nathan Englander, "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges." Although most of the nine stories were cleverly humorous, all held an undeniable layer of profound sadness. In the title story, a deeply religious man, upon advice of his rabbi, hires a prostitute to relieve him of "his unbearable urges" that he feels may be adding to his wife's lack of desire for sex. And it seems it is this deep faith that ultimately turns against him and ironically works for him as the tables are turned at home. In the "Gilgul of Park Avenue," a man suddenly discovers he is Jewish in a NYC taxi cab, much to his wife's dismay. And in the final story, "In This Way We Are Wise," the narrator processes the aftermath of a terrorist attack on a local cafe:
"On the street I am all animal. I am all sense, all smell and taste and touch. I can read every stranger's intentions from scent, from the flex of muscle, the length of the passing of our eyes.
I'm on the corner and can turn up the block, take a few strides into the closest of kill zones. I can tour the stretch of wounded weeping and dead unmoving, walk past the blackened and burned, still smoldering ghosts."
- Originally from Vermont, I now live in North Carolina. My work can be found in recent issues of REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters, The Jabberwock Review, The Emerson Review, Storyglossia, The MacGuffin, Confrontation, Passages North, SmokeLong Quarterly, elimae, wigleaf, and Pank, among others, and forthcoming from Gargoyle #57 and REAL: Regarding Arts and Letters. One of my stories has been translated into Farsi by Asadollah Amraee, and many others by Jalil Jafari, two of which have been published in the Iranian journal, Golestaneh Magazine. For two years I worked as an assistant editor for Narrative Magazine. Currently, I serve as a mentor for Dzanc's Creative Writing Sessions. I'm working on two novels and a short story collection. In May, I was awarded the Carol Houck Smith Contributor Scholarship for the 2011 Bread Loaf Writers' Conference.