Fiction 2009

Alice Sebold on literary prizes; Tim O’Brien on detail and imagination; original stories by Paul Theroux, Téa Obreht, Rick Bass, and others; new poetry by Linda Gregerson and Donald Hall; and much more.


The Laugh

“Neal had believed the myths about hyenas. Until he saw them kill.”
Interview: Obreht on how National Geographic shaped her writing career.


A breakup letter to my therapist
Interview: McCorkle on happy endings and her irritation with Moby Dick.

Fish Story

“It was a swollen, gasping, netherworld creature. I had to keep it alive until they could kill it.”

Voices of Love

Tales of swingers, seductions, and extraordinary perversions


“Colleen was coming home from Iraq. But Moira was like a surrogate mother now, almost a surrogate wife.”
Interview: Zentner on the new military family and the fine line between emotion and sentimentality.

Least Resistance

“Our first hug, between thermostats and oil filters, gave me a glimpse of where our friendship might lead.”
Interview: Harrison on his former life as a mechanic and his transformation into a writer.


“Último knew people claimed they’d seen the Virgin Mary. But this was Alba, an ordinary girl.”
Interview: Nelson on how the 1960s folk scene inspired him to write fiction.


Telling Tails

In fiction, details matter. But only imagination can illuminate the human soul.

Border Crossings

Does a national literature still have meaning in an age of open borders and polyglot cultures?

Eyes on the Prize

Literary awards are inherently subjective, but they are also the most powerful antidote we have to the decline of serious fiction.


Where the Wild Things Go

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Adults Need Playtime Too

When was the last time you played your favorite childhood game?


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



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