At the Sunday Salon, we’ve had the immense pleasure of hosting Chris Tarry twice – as musical guest and as featured author. His debut collection, How to Carry Bigfoot Home, came out this March from Red Hen Press with glowing blurbs from Jim Shepard, Pamela Erens, Roy Kesey, and Matt Bell. The Masters Review’s Kim Winterheimer writes, “Each of his stories is laced with humor and heart.” And Stefan Merrill Block says, “What would happen if some mad scientist were able to fuse the otherworldly exuberance of H.P. Lovecraft with the nuanced pathos of John Cheever? The result would be a dazzling, explosive, and inexhaustible new kind of illumination: a writer named Chris Tarry.” It was a treat to have him back, where he generously shared some thoughts on his fine work, on fatherhood, and what it’s like to be staring down the threshold.
– Sara Lippmann
Congrats on How to Carry Bigfoot Home! How did this book come to fruition?
Thanks so much, and thanks for having me. How To Carry Bigfoot Home came together over about six years, adding stories, cutting many. I was publishing in journals and wanted to release a collection so I started pulling it together around the …
Her artist statement reveals this: “much of her work finds her studying appetites, identity, the signals for real love, and the search for home.” Born in Southern California to a Filipina mother and an Italian-American father, Laurel Fantauzzo has lived in Brooklyn, Manila, and Iowa over the past few years. Currently, she calls Quezon City, Philippines home and teaches at Ateneo de Manila University. She is well-acquainted with starting over and telling stories from the margins. Largely a nonfiction writer and an essayist, Laurel also writes young adult fiction. Poet Hossannah Asuncion describes Laurel’s writing as “lyrical and technically elegant—what makes it glorious is the kindness that is imbued within it. Her writing is always human and empathic.” Laurel is also as funny as she is tenderhearted and has compelling observations to share from multiple thresholds. Undoubtedly, she is the kind of writer you’ll want to get to know on the page and in person.
Your writing is at the threshold of memory, language, and identity. Your most recent essay in the The Rumpus, “The Animals in My Home” like your other pieces is a haunting, beautiful intertwining of tales from your present life in the Philippines and memories …
By Cynthia Blake Thompson
It was winter, nearly carnival time, and I went to Fatebenefratelli to visit Alberto’s father nearly every day. Fatebenefratelli was not the main hospital in Venice, but one filled with old and dying patients. Some of them screamed from morning until night, some believed they were children again, and some, who just could not be managed at home anymore, expressed anger at the betrayal that had brought them there by staring off in a sullen, accusing silence. The hospital was located in the Cannaregio quarter, far from the main tourist routes and the shops that sold masks, blown glass objects, and gondolier hats. One had the feeling there that the Venetians lived as they had lived for hundreds of years. Weeds grew tall around the stone walls of the large, now defunct, wells that sat in the middle of the campi—squares, and wildflowers and tall grasses, traces of the long gone fields paved over with stone, sprouted between the stones by the buildings where few footsteps trod them down. The brick foundations were noticeably crumbling and it was quiet except for the hollow sound of a local’s footsteps crossing the campo, or the …
By Victoria Brown
For their fourth date Aneeta decided to move her relationship with Phillip forward, a step. They’d gone the first night to Vanderbilt, a low-pressure, after-work cocktail spot where Phillip teased Aneeta over how long she took to finish her one prosecco. Second, he had taken her to a ball game, and though she told him she didn’t understand baseball, she cheered his team, ate hotdogs, and took a sip from Phillip’s flask. A week later they rode bikes over the bumpy dirt trails the park, stopping by the lake for huaraches and bottled beer from the Latin American vendors. They ate sitting among the wildflowers growing down the sloping bank, the wind whipping Aneeta’s long black hair across her face. She laughed, and Phillip framed the perfection of her profile with his fingers. He called that Wednesday to suggest dinner at Ai Fiori on Saturday night.
The mention of Ai Fiori had made Aneeta decide it was time to give Phillip an undisguised signal she was willing to go wherever he led. Clearly, she thought, Phillip felt the same way. It was one thing to eat Mexican food in the park or hot dogs at a …
By Krista Madsen
By twilight, I could organize the time that remains in the way of my wife: maintaining her coupon system on the dining room table – one pile for the expired, another expiring soon, the third expiring further off, but never exceeding year’s end, that’s as far as they ever go. I could check the dates, perhaps weekly, and shift more of the discounts for things I’d never buy anyway into the expired pile.
Or, I could organize time in the way of oncologists: Two years ago, they gave me only months to live. The malignancy had spread beyond their ability to target it locally; chemo would just make me sick. No one could have imagined I’d still be here now, voice rising octaves from the hormones, moody like a pre-teen. Developing breasts; becoming mother in her absence.
It’s not that their mother is gone exactly, it’s just that she was never really here to begin with. She never left much of an impression – the woman couldn’t even bruise a peach – and then she just wafted off, slowly evaporating until she was invisible. I’m sure she’s lingering in the attic rafters or, more mundanely, under the …
By Jen Knox
The girls crash into each other and then the wall. A jumble of screams and giggles traverse the hallway as Cassandra’s neighbors, kids themselves, bang something blunt against their side of the wall. Concentrating to steady her hand, she squints, painting her nails a dark purple that is almost black; dark nails signify control over one’s domain, the willingness to fight. Red means an all-out battle for dominance, and she doesn’t want to go that far.
“Shut! Up!” The neighbors’ voices are muffled by thick plaster. Control today, Cassandra reminds herself. There is a brief moment of silence before another loud scream and another muffled yell.
“Stop it, girls! It’s too early for improv. If the Johns report us again we’ll be in deep shit.” The Johns are IT students, one from Nigeria and one from Southern Ohio, and they are especially intolerant of disruptive noise.
Endurance: A Handbook for Single Mothers, page 45, paragraph 2: “Crossed arms (alternately akimbo), wide legs and a close-mouthed smile create a power posture.” Power postures are particularly important when speaking to preteens. Cassandra tests the position as she stands in the doorway. The girls have scarves fastened around their necks with …
By Noel Alumit
The soundtrack of Maybe Someday was first heard in a small house on Vendome Avenue. It was eventually heard in homes on Council, Reno, Dillon, and Union. The music of this hit Broadway musical was heard in cars driving north on Rampart, turning right on Temple street, then stopping at a parking lot in Bahay Kubo, a popular hang out in Historic Filipinotown—Hi-Fi for short—in Los Angeles, Ca. At Bahay Kubo, the music of Maybe Someday was heard on the loudspeakers, a boot-legged video of the musical played on a large TV in the restaurant.
Filipino men and women sang along, including the old manongs and manangs who sang in cracked, weathered voices. Middle age women—who had lost their virginities decades before—sang the tunes of the musical about an innocent girl stuck in a horrible, senseless war.
They knew the songs because the story was told and told and told again. Jethro and Goldstein, the producers for this musical about the Vietnam War were on a worldwide search for a cast, especially the leading lady. Auditions were held on three continents. The lead and a good number of the supporting cast and chorus were found in the …
By Ben Tanzer
There was this boy with his head in your lap.
Which is not exactly what it sounds like, though depending on how that sounds to you, it isn’t exactly not that either.
Which is to say that he isn’t a little boy, you have those now and you know what they look like, he was more like a young man, as were you, it’s just that you just weren’t as young as he was, with his boyish face, pale skin, and light, near translucent scruff.
But you’re getting ahead of yourself, that is the present, or that present anyway, and this doesn’t work without knowing the past and the decisions you made that got you from there to here.
Because before that, there was a door, though not exactly a door, it was more like a passage, both in the metaphorical sense certainly, as in it takes you somewhere both new and old all at once, a sort of a Raiders of the Lost Ark take a step and the bridge will appear kind of passage, but also in a literal sense, because there is also a curtain, and behind it a long hall in a club South of …
By Kari Nguyen
It is October 2013. Quintessential New England fall. Our afternoon walk is slow as we pass under trees already turned for the season. There is hardly a breeze, and the leaves above us hang suspended, not quite ready to descend save for the few scattered on the sides of the road. The sunlight, lengthening but still warm, casts us: a band at peace. My daughter’s purple sneakers keep up easily over the pavement and her warm hand fits familiarly into mine. I snake the retriever’s worn leash through my opposite hand, repositioning the grip, and he seems to understand. There is a break in my daughter’s conversation, her little voice petering out as her mind is captured for a minute by something beyond our gazes. The quiet penetrates and it is difficult not to reflect. I am thinking: this is all I need. This and nothing else. It has been a couple weeks now, and I’ve been moving around with the airy relief that comes with lifting a heavy decision. We will revisit in a year, we tell ourselves, when our daughter is older, but my mind is all but made up. We are complete. …
By Jennifer McGaha
Admittedly, the Midwest is an unlikely place for a pilgrimage. In the vast and wide-open landscape, one doesn’t have the sense so much of going inward, but rather of being exposed, flayed open like a trout. Had I had more money or more time to contemplate my path, I might have gone to Lumbini or hiked the El Camino. As it were, it had been less than a week since I had applied for a semester-long teaching position at a rural Illinois university. I had interviewed via Skype, received an offer, grabbed a few essential items—my mountain bike, my dog, my computer—and headed west. I left behind four other dogs, my husband, and my two sons who attended North Carolina colleges.
My Lab, Hester, rode shotgun as we drove through torrential rain all the way from North Carolina, through Tennessee, and over the rolling hills of Kentucky. Then, just as we hit Indiana, the rain eased, the sky grew wide and clear, and Hall and Oates came on the radio. Hester and I cranked it up and jammed all the way through the Hoosier National Forest. Finally, we were passing mile after mile of corn …
By Guillermo Filice Castro
on the brink of
with a touch of
using blindness as a guide
at the edge of
a dreamed death-
write a song
write a song
you can sing in heaven
By Seni Seneviratne
Let me assume a pose that is suitably uncomfortable. There’s no obvious way to shift me from a life of necessary solitude, though I sometimes miss the joy of slipping from the warm side of a sleeping lover to watch the moon through cold curtains. Life is a stolen word from someone else’s lines, but can it harm if it’s surrounded by my own?
Into the nearest cafe, miss out main course, bite into blueberry sponge. And who would say yes to that last bit of overheard chat? Not me. I’m wondering which way to go after all this time of take what life brings, which is only another cliché on the road to who knows what.
This is a city where cold applies mainly to the weather, where people butter their bread and remember which side. You never know how many cups of coffee it will take to sit here stealing words that have already happened. Should I take off the mask? These inventions of mood are not always useful.
And this may not be the right place to say, but the woman on the next table keeps casting glances. There’s so much shame in her eyes but all I can do is smile and watch her plumage bristle under the beige of her fleece. What’s to lose? Take off the jacket and fly!
© Seni Seneviratne
By Nathan McClain
there’s a bluebird, asleep,
in the pokeweed, and we argue still—
what’s pinched in its beak—
a thread of red string, perhaps
what’s left of picking apart its nest?
Though I like to think of the thread as once
woven to some larger piece of cloth,
maybe your scarf.
By Cathy Linh Che
In the car, phantom shadows.
The moon was a sliver.
The sun blared orange over the canyon,
and I caught myself awkward and nervous.
In the woods, I constructed for us
a makeshift shelter––tent with broken poles,
hands that intertwined in restless sleep.
In Flagstaff, the huevos rancheros
smothered in pork and chile verde.
A circular bruise on each knee.
I’d never seen anything like this.
Stacked mesas with their red
and sandstone striations.
Dusk striped violet and blue,
diffusing into golden light.
Scratch deep red on your arm.
What if love meant marking a body?
The red insignia a testament
to blood beneath the skin.
The soundtrack to a road trip played
on an uncertain loop. A blaze of time zones.
The spinning of a ceiling fan.
A movie which played
in scenes that resembled
nothing of our lives.
By Erika Dreifus
with thanks to Steven M. Lowenstein
My father’s parents were Germans,
and they were Jews,
and they were born long ago,
one just before and one just after
the outbreak of the war
that was to end all wars,
They came to New York in ’37 and ’38,
met and married and had a son.
From them, I have inherited
copies of Der Struwwelpeter
a fondness for Riesling,
Pünktlichkeit is beyond punctuality.
It is showing up ahead of time for movies,
meetings, and medical appointments;
submitting papers and assignments
safely before their deadlines;
and returning books to the library
at least one day prior to their due dates.
Pünktlichkeit is a preemptive way of life,
and not everyone admires it.
Even Rabbi Breuer of Frankfurt,
later of Washington Heights,
scolded guests who rang his doorbell
before the agreed-upon time.
“Zu früh ist auch nicht pünktlich.”
But pünktlichkeit served my grandparents well.
They left Germany before the Kristallnacht,
before the St. Louis, before their neighbors
were called to trains that went first to France
and then to Auschwitz. Who knows
how many reported to the railways
before the hour they were told?
(An earlier version of “Pünktlichkeit” was published in Moment magazine.)