I wrote this short-short in my first year of MFA school, and am half-embarrassed by it, but at the time it was the first fiction I’d written that struck me as worth even trying to publish. Lo and behold, here it is: “The Library.”
It appears in/on the second issue of The Mercy Review, which some old comrades from my Minnesota years are involved with. The journal (online-only, at the moment) looks terrific. The current issue (theme: “The Midwest”) features a bunch of stories, essays, poems, and artworks grouped by region: Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, the Dakotas. Lord, I’m homesick just typing those names.
As the name indicates, The Mercy Review is tangentially associated with House of Mercy, which sounds like a drug rehab center, or a Dylan album from his Pentacostal phase, but is actually one of the two finest churches I’ve ever set foot inside. (Well, and “rehab center” is actually not a terrible metaphor for what good churches do.) Attending House was a primary step in my learning to read the Bible in such a way that it represented either or both of the following things: Good; News. This education had not a little to do with the exegetical and imaginative brilliance of the place’s three pastors, Debbie Blue, Russell Rathbun, and (though he’s since moved on, all the way to Minneapolis) Mark Stenberg. They all wore black the week Johnny Cash died. It was that kind of place. There are many people who serve as models for the kind of writer I hope to be, but they’re not the last three people on the list.