*fiction by Douglas Trevor* Theobald Kristeller settled into his chair in the early printed text room of the British Library. The reading area was deathly quiet, save when one of the youngish, gung-ho librarians stumbled upon someone not using one of the book cradles properly, or writing notes in pen. Theo had himself once been upbraided for letting a first edition of Robert Persons’s De Persecutione Anglicana slip into his lap. “But it’s Persons!” he had exclaimed incredulously. “No one cares about Robert Persons!”
*fiction by Kelsey Ronan* Behind her, Tianna laughs. “Listen to her,” she guffaws. She repeats “dark with anguishhh,” in her white girl voice, the words theatrically elongated. “Who you tryna be?” Tianna’s laughter ripples around the room. Monae turns quickly back and stares down at her desk. Her face burns. Miss McCorkle ineffectively repeats, “Students, students,” but all the eighth graders are so relieved to be pulled away from this impossible poem and given something familiar to ridicule that they laugh and laugh.
* fiction by Charles Baxter *
With a tiny advance from a publisher and a six-week deadline, she felt like a caged animal hopping on electrified grates for the occasional food pellet. Her professional reputation was at stake: after this volume was published, she would probably be held up to ridicule in the New York Review of Books for her translation of this very poem. She could already see the adverb-adjective clusters: “discouragingly inept,” “sadly inappropriate,” “amusingly tin-eared.” One of the few Americans who had any command of this dialect, she belonged to a tight little society full of backbiters.
She misspells “beautiful” as “beatiful” when she is referring to a rose of Sharon in the backyard. Is that a subliminal slip? She was speaking of not being able to get focused after moving into her boyfriend’s house, and then she writes about his “beautiful garden”—or is it “beatified garden”? Something that moves her to the sublime and saintly? That is what her painting does. It beatifies the world as well as beautifying it. So do I correct her spelling?