what seem like their opposites: chaos and loathing. The narrator andhis Korean wife live in Seoul, making their way as young professionalsas they try for a first child. The wife, Eunji, works stubbornly but withlittle inspiration to make a name for herself as an artist. When construction begins on a fantastically tall high-rise right across from theirmodest apartment, they are at first repelled and paralyzed, unable toaccomplish anything due to the noise and disruption. Eunji miscarries;
yet somehow, in an unexplainable, almost magic moment, her repulsionturns to fascination and inspiration, and the high-rise tower becomes abeneficent presence that blesses the couple with more than one surprise.
Daniel Hornsby’s “Purple Knot” is a comedy with a twist about ateenager and his single mother who fall under the influence of a Southern birding guru. When the guru gathers a group of paying disciplesaround him in a Florida condo to commune and search for a supposedlyrare and elusive bird species, the teenage narrator receives an object lesson in how susceptible even adults, especially lonely ones, can be to themagnetic pull of a con artist. Diana Xin’s story “Joy Comes in the Morning” is another story about seemingly failed relationships that end upcarrying meaning and significance. Laura is an aspiring artist who hasreturned to her Midwestern mill-town home to help care for her dyingmother. She is invited into a women’s prayer group, but there’s a complication: the group’s kind leader is the wife of an old boyfriend. BothLaura and Pete, the boyfriend, recognize that resuming their tangledpast affair would be destructive. While desire is stronger than judgment,their passion evolves into a different sort of love.
“O’Herlihy (Née Noonan)” by Andrew Peters is an elegiac chroniclethat takes us from a woman’s birth to her final years. In it, Peters affirmsthe value of a life characterized by what might be described as flaws oreven failure. Mary, the protagonist of Peters’s sensitive fiction, has moments when she feels herself in “unconscious motion, without volitionor directedness . . . moving within an illimitable current, towards anunknowable end.” Yet in important ways her life has a direction unswerving and complete. She has a son late in life, and, most significantly,she marries the man she wants, who stays by her and loves her despitewhat happens in her twilight years.
The Jeffrey E. Smith Prize–winning story “Trezzo” by Seth Fried isabout two middle-school boys from stressed-out families who developan unexpected alliance. A coming-of-age story and comic romp of boyspulling outrageous stunts, it’s an exuberant mix of temptation, bad