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Yin Yin Liu Jason Bell Chloe Haralambous Tucker Kuman Peter Kwang Yin Yin Liu Marshall Thomas Alexandra Avvocato Salonee Bhaman Sara Corcoran Alison Economy Hilana Ezekiel Diana Flanagan Julien Hawthorne Megan Kallstrom Grace Lee Dan Listwa Mica Moore Kate Offerdahl P.J. Sauerteig Atti Viragh Jacklyn Willner Rose Winer
Zachary Asher 6 Scarlight Nicholas Wong 7 Stochastic Love Sean Zhuraw 8 Escapement Magnification Jason Bell 11 Anatomy Lesson Eliana Parnas 12 How To Call Your Mother P.J. Sauerteig 13 Boy Emily Stainkamp 14 The Fight Atti Viragh 15 Separation Ian Scheffler 16 Untitled Billy Goldstein 18 From the Diary of Judas Escolar, Fish King of Golgotha, June 1st, 1981.
Daniel Stainkamp 19 Supper William Prescott 20 Huey's Last Testament Meriam Raouf 22 Cinderella Story
Salonee Bhaman Samuel Draxler David Milch Rui Yu
The Columbia Review is published twice yearly by the students of Columbia College, New York, with support from the Activities Board at Columbia. Enquiries to: Columbia Review, Lerner Hall, 2920 Broadway, New York, NY 10027. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Books and media sent for possible review become the property of The Columbia Review. Visit us online at: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/review. Copyright ÂŠ 2011 by The Columbia Review. All rights reserved. Reproduction or translation of any part of this work beyond that permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the US Copyright Law without permission of the publishers is unlawful.
Diya Jost Ian Scheffler
Table of Contents
Editors’ Note Dear Reader, In our three semesters as Co-Editors, we’ve received all sorts of submissions—poems, plays, short stories, essays, histories, even an economics paper in Russian. With the exception of the last one (we are a literary journal, after all, and no one at the Review reads Cyrillic very well), they’ve all gone through our editorial funnel, vying for space in these pages.
As we bid farewell to a magazine that’s meant so much to us, we wish you, dear reader, an enjoyable journey through these pieces. Fondly, Diya and Ian
"Untitled" (Instagram clouds) Samuel Draxler Fall 2011
On another note, we’d like to dedicate this issue to Tian Bu, a classmate of ours who passed away this semester. A vibrant and descriptive writer, Tian published two poems in the magazine, “A Poem About a Poem About a Poem” last spring and “Everything Vinegar in the River” the year before that. It’s hard to lose a classmate, especially one with whom you’re familiar in a creative capacity. We will remember her not only for her craft, but her kindness to us and her fellow students.
This issue, we’re proud to present a lineup we think rivals the best our three semesters at the helm of the Review have seen. At times lyrical and fantastic, at others playful and profane, the poetry and prose that follow illustrate the broad range of styles being worked in by young writers in our community. From the terse blows of Emily Stainkamp in The Fight to the expansive flow of Sean Zhuraw’s Escapement Magnification to the fascinating dive into a dirty mind of Meriam Raouf’s Cinderella Story, we hope to give you the sense, as many authors have said, that anything works, so long as you do it well.
By Zachary Asher
By Nicholas Wong
a lesson is needed in clotheskeeping? Who unbridles the nightmare from fear? You know the one where the body like a child, is taken. You say it’s not my fault— then lift the ground back up. I still want
to live in a pure place, if it is possible, and love everyone.
A quiet place to kneel down, scars reddening in the sun where I will always be rising inside a skin of blue seaglass. Let the light strike and I will appear to be on fire—after the night terror fused whole again.
J. R. Pierce, “Symbols, Signals, and Noise” [On randomly generated sentences.]
After packing off my vintage Olympia typewriter, I gave you my orchid, highbrow machine of wind and wonder, erect in a large Fairway shopping bag. That night, you tore away my cheese and pistachios, raided your suitcase to show me photos of your outrageous bowl cut, friends and countless severe lovers. Like the latter, I know I’d fade away, a false positive in Bayes’ theorem. A top scientist like you never errs in measuring how much you love me, given that I do. With your precision, why is love so stochastic to you, not dovetailed, but discrete like each side of the die? Why not cook and admit the tedious rhyme of lovers? Our ears and eyes lie down in the same bed, after all.
after the ecstasy, laundry. Who is bathing so often in the ecstatic
“I would never write, ‘It happened one frosty look of trees waving gracefully against the wall.’ I almost wish I could. Poor poets endlessly rhyme love with dove, and they are constrained by their highly trained mediocrity never to write a good line. In some sense, a stochastic process can do better; it at least has a chance.”
After the night spark, chop wood counsels the koan
until now can you answer the phone, can you tuck yourself in, please, quiet wants to know what it did wrong. One can’t tell one
Every night-stride downs the sun defining the casement, ours, lax, unhinged axis of which from we watch this folding to, a port,
room from another. I can’t tell one the rules for reckoning without ruining your eyes from watching that which dissolves
yes, cut as by mere dusting of the diamondsided mind beheld, or lowering affix past the one-breath cross of single-
dissolves functioning its leakage; its backwashed gravity keeps the one working speaker lit, fixed, from the radio I offered, the sole frozen blub speaking
impressed pit on to the littoral cave, its shot half by water—a between what bisects the center, portside, of the keel-turned ship: the sun
to the stellar crew as if their downcast light were wider than any moment in their distance will allow. Unordered, now opens the door
setback. The sashed and now arrived we already exhaust set to imp as to fasten I in fall was made to view and construct
the upended voice closets to us like a beast whose brilliance occurs by one motion, forward, preceding itself, like I’ve been asleep a few days
to what parts unseen of the outbound entrance I prayed outlied the casement; I raised my head to it from the deck foam, a landing thinner
that’s all you broke ground for, called out the sky’s one put-out eye, round these parts least, still blinds from the fossa-split ream
than sea. How now spent iteration cannot be sent to the cut room, a thrill of the head forefront measuring the pendulum-ready wiping
our transmission cleaves to while measurement in other forms stands inept connecting our felt symbols to the trim just
pace matter, that is the night on its endturned persistence. If yes, if this ship doubles what what one one thousand measures
suppose everyone thought the same way you do a show of hands, and watch their placement I don’t think I’ve heard yet
lapses the absence of a signal on a channel this being not received, broadcast, meant free to receive noise from all sorts: shortwave, solar
the name called. Its part all the contract, you see the contract, the hallway distancing the further how we can be sure what holes here is more than
disturbance, inner space. Opposed to hollows of classic structure, light nullifies an alignment of questions. Answers less the part of it
and damn needy where place congregates pulled from a medium between floor, speaker-top: a demand of none made due to simple matters of folding
By Sean Zhuraw
an accommodation best to the window’s meaning meaning anything containing the large, unclean light darting as the eyes
The Anatomy Lesson
do about a small room still enough is it to stare into, get lost in like I have been asleep a few days. What we have here is a lack of
In a bent and scorched magnolia, my wife read novels to my knots.
communication. And why on reentry our eyes seethed, deadlocked on stare even as the sea swung backward and the above all stain in sky made finding you a function revolved voice, never dare in the darkness of counting more than a spot sense knowing knowing seems safe, back in the hallway
(close holes that sphinctered in relief at touches of enemic thoughts)
My roots were tied in lover’s ankles. dead resin calcified in colonoscopies . but now—my leaves can rest—still and caught like static wind and silent talk.
now breathing like a painting. Watch, it will again do it for us. Sean, he is going to tell he is going to tell he’s going to tell.
By Jason Bell
How to Call Your Mother
By Eliana Parnas
By P.J. Sauerteig
music, a glass of water. Stamping your feet or pinching your skin keeps you here. You should choose a rope appropriate to your size, tape your eyebrow in a raised
position, then dial. She will pick up the
phone. Say, “I’m pretty sure that you’re trying
His face is like that of a newborn infant, and cystic acne rages from his hairline to his boy nipples; he has no eyebrows. The veins in his legs and hands are enormous, and his hair has already started to fall out; its curls clutter my carpet after he has finished his work. The first time I met him I wasn’t much older than he is. He took semen-stained rope and tied me to my bed, So that my arms throbbed and my breaths were short. He strapped a bomb to the iron frame under my cot, and I heard his skinny fingers, with nails bitten down to stubs, fumbling with terrorist wires and plugs. He left with two crows on his shoulders, pecking at his most luscious zits, and he didn’t even turn around when I asked him his name. That night I dreamt terrible dreams.
to kill me.” She will extend her hand through the phone and say, “Heal this,” turning it into a big production, acting like the knife is actually moving through her system.
And so it is like that; I will see him every once in a while, and I don’t fight him anymore. I even hold my arms at my side to make things faster for him. He doesn’t talk to me, although I see him enough that I think we could be friends, maybe. I sympathize with his acne and his introverted demeanor. It’s nice to have someone visit with regularity.
I like to prepare with a little mood
Sometimes a little boy visits me in bed.
No more dangerous than riding in a car.
By Emily Stainkamp
By Atti Viragh
my wrist: an ache. a weary bone sunk thick in radial viscera.
and the body echoed like a stone along corridors of irreality
your chest: drum-deep and heavy, where a wound blooms blue.
a shape too large to swallow; upright, nearly, as a playing card
a punch: a match struck song-sweet, Promethean and blindinglyâ€” a day: another. the counsel of bruises. blood swims, a flower
spins, stands, and yields; except the conscious hand disarticulates from the retreating mind which, like a newborn, curls at the sudden lengthening distance
rots. a fist steals a kiss; flesh wants, wakes, and forgets.
mences the gorge on which I engage, now and for the forseeable future, which is distant, to say the least, I will own stores and cities and commission portraits, I will sit on the couch with destiny and eat chicken with it. And let’s not forget those adorable uniforms the checkers wear, in that disaffected way, one pocket texted and the other full of cigarettes. I shall buy them all and hang them on a laundry line for whomever sees, flapping at full mast in the gale of my magnificent splendoring.
t wasn’t even on my radar until two minutes ago, but you know what’s fucking great? Cheese. I could have so damn much. Brie, Roquefort, Camembert, Emmentaler, By Ian Scheffler Gruyere. I could buy mounds of it, fill a grocery cart and sail around the tomato sauce islands, knock the canned fortifications to smithereens with well-timed balls of blue cheese, it wouldn’t make a difference, there’d still be a whole aisle of cultured dairy products in wax and plastic wrap. Here’s the milk aisle, stocked with cheesy relatives, uncles and aunts of dear Parmesan: milk powders, milk cans, milk cartons, milk gallons roped together with pink plastic handcuffs. I could flood a bathtub with it. Why not? I could buy all of it, deluge the house, ride slides in the buttery luscious flow of it, grow old on a cookie island in a milk pond, fish for animal crackers that I’ve eaten the heads off and tossed in there for fishing purposes, sign checks with a quill pen dipped in a milkstand, freeze and skate on it, drink it when the ice breaks and the round ice cream sandwich falls into it. I’d worry there won’t be enough to go around but the cows, the great aching fields of milksolids being made are out there somewhere, and in the store windows. Here’s the beef, we’re never going to run out of it in this store, so why worry about milk, kill the cow, cook it, chew it, jerk it, shrinkwrap it, prop it on a yellow kickstand, special it. I’m going to eat it. Hail the FDA, the USDA, graders of cuts, prime stampers. I shall stock my yard with top round in one corner and rib roast in the other and have the beefiest yard, the cheesiest. Most blessed are the cooked foods. I will push my cart battalion and lay waste to that section of the store, stack turkeys and chickens, cram puddings as high as two children in the carts, eat from the packages, tear turkey legs, double fist them, run and guzzle soup on the way to the cakes and cookie sheets, part glass from the counters and demand entire trays of macaroons be laid at my feet. This is the beginning of the feast, I will serve it on mahogany tables, on chintz chairs and a feather carpet because feathers are soft and make such excellent dog dusting devices. This ticket com-
I dreamt I had crabs and that they talked to me. Then I woke up and they didn’t. My nervous discharge permanently Stained the somber summer lint Of bubba’s blankets. The blankets Themselves are fine. My actual crabs Have always been mute, rancorous Merchandise, not worth a dram— They’re fished from arm pits, Moon craters, the Liverpudlian abyss, Assorted Medusas’ chthonic twats. At their very sight my bubba gives a hiss.
She doesn’t come to market anymore. Not since 1973, Yom Kippur.
By Daniel Stainkamp
Plump and skinning quickly, piles of thick grey sluice contently lie In styrofoam compartments, Film and prime to crust above your thighs. On the hot seat flounder, spit as Dad pulls rank like pork from bones: stylized cordial rage, a vinegar and piss-filled hymn to hum. Tense and sloppy kissing, an empty snifter proofed, and stifled moans, Slow and slouch and upturn and bore beneath your belly: a warm, frayed, wet mess of roots. Strings of fuming vapor gather into tight, clear rivulets. Gridded spikes are dangling from cast iron lids, and collards wilt.
By Billy Goldstein
From the Diary of Judas Escolar, Fish King of Golgotha, June 1st, 1981
Huey's Last Testament By William Prescott I. When I was five I met a boy who would be famous at a barbershop. I didn’t know it at the time. He just sat in a chair and there I saw him lock by lock of hair grow shorter.
II. Lately mother’s been making oedipal advances · lets trace the etymology now she might say · Id curl up my legs and shed come around · from behind · and stretch her hand over my chest · her hand never sunk any lower · though I could feel its intent.
Her back rippled like a liquid. Mine only snapped pleasingly. Like lips. Like a cushion. So you will understand why the sight of it caused shivers to run down my spine. And the other began to spasm as I cracked the whip. He fell to the floor with a righteous moan. ‘Be quiet!’ I told him. But now she was barking. I told her what a wench she was. What a lusty wench! Then I thrust her face into the basin, And steering her forward by the hair of her scalp pushed The apples along. She pressed up well enough With her neck To bring her mouth above the surface But I wouldn’t let her bob for those fruits. ‘Stay your epileptic jig! O you sinner!’ I tickled her and she screeched. Spitting bathwater, gurgling soap. It was the noise of cleansing. Now you feast upon this, I said, And I felt her smile beneath the press of my knees
‘O but master! Can we please close the blinds?’ my leftmost midget pleaded. I whipped her harshly and the fat of
They filled the basin with their bathwater and left three Redskinned apples to soak. What a plunge! They bobbed valiantly With such persistence Dyeing the water and foam a luscious pink. I turned to the midget on my right and applauded him slowly, so that he’d know my Intention was mockery. Sing-song like Ecstatic, I twirled about him and intoned the dias irae.
up on his stoop. She had typical Anglo-Saxon looks—her last name was Johnson or something super white like that. So Cindy Clorox shows up on his stoop in her green little uniform and Bill can’t contain himself behind the door. He starts hyperventilating but they had just run out of paper bags. His goddamn roommate was always making sandwiches for work. His hands felt sweaty. Okay, he thought, just act fucking normal. She rang the doorbell again. He looked through the yellowed eyehole and stared at her budding tits. They were like new little tulips. He slapped himself. Focus. He could see her badges. She had like 2, she was new to girl scouting. It was only fair to open the door, she probably needed all the help she could get. It was charitable, he told himself. He wouldn’t want to be cruel. Before he even got the door fully open she chimed in, “Hello resident of 2C, my name is Cindy Hensley and I’m a new girl scout in troop 213. Would you like to buy some cookies today? We’re using the money to…” Using the money to fucking buy skankier uniforms. As she continued her teleprompter speech, Bill rushed to grab some cash before he got a boner. The way she was so polite, didn’t know how to act around new people, and those fucking merciless tits. His hands trembled as he thought about her training bra and tried to fumble for some cash. He shoved what he thought was like 40 dollars but was actually 100 into her hands and grabbed a box of thin mints. He slammed the door and began to eat his feelings. While he was jerking it in the next room, his toes curled on the beige bachelor carpeting. Things had to change. None of this was working. In those days he was so far from what people referred to as “functional.” That stuff had all been years ago, and Bill never did touch a little girl. He made parents a little uncomfortable the way he stared, and he never aspired to be a gym teacher or anything. He had gotten married to a woman named Cassandra with a small mouth and a certain flexibility when it came to the kinky shit. Bill knew that he needed to be married after that last time with Cindy—he didn’t intend on joining the ranks of people who had both sideburns and a strong opinion about repealing Megan’s law. The middle of that Venn diagram was dangerous territory. Nope. Bill had Cassie. She would dress up and dance to old school Britney Spears, and he would pray he never had a daughter. Everything was perfectly fine. Besides that one incident with the Miley Cyrus cutout at work, Bill was doing fine. That was just a rough Thursday, and it was nothing that walking away awkwardly and fucking Cassie in their boss’s office wouldn’t solve. They both worked in this Wal-Mart knockoff in their town. It was called T-mart or F-mart or some
edophile made it sound so dirty. He flipped through the American girl magazine, each doll’s expressionless face turning By Meriam Raouf him on a little bit. Pedophile. It reminded him of those programs on 60 minutes about sexual predators. You know, some tool with a thick head of hair would come on and scare the shit out of mothers, posing all these questions hoping to get people to panic. “Is your milk slowly killing your baby?” said Bill to himself, licking his finger and turning the page, “Tonight on 60 minutes. Is texting turning your son gay?” “Pedophile.” He thought about the word again, not realizing he’d actually said it out loud this time. A woman a few isles over, looking through shitty Moby disks gave him a dirty look. Bill wondered what part of his monologue she’d heard. Probably the latter, because she was still glaring at him as she shuffled out of the record store. Bill thought about how funny “Moby disks” sounded and wondered if maybe she’d stolen a Moby disk and that’s why she shuffled out. He put back the magazine and decided he didn’t really give a fuck about the whereabouts of that judgmental prick, and her high horse. Bitch listened to Moby. It’s 2010, who listens to Moby? Or more appropriately, it’s not the 90’s and you’re not doing shrooms, who listens to Moby? Moby. So he wanted to touch little girls. That bitch could look at him all day. It’s not like he would ever do it. He understood this was a problem. People who don’t understand this is a problem own minivans and go to AA meetings for the free coffee. Bill fucking knew that. He knew it was fucked up. He thought bout the porn industry, all those schoolgirl fantasies—and he was fucked up? He left the mall and walked to the parking lot. How the fuck was he to get rid of this? Gay people were allowed to be gay, why was this so different? He shook his head as he started his car. He knew this was different. He just wanted to be done with this. He had started dating older women, hoping to compensate, or more accurately, punish himself for what he really wanted. That worked fairly well until this Girl Scout named Cindy showed
“Yeah honn-ney Leno’s great..” he looked back at her. “I mean, yeah sorry din-ner’s good.” He didn’t know what the fuck to do. He had thought about seeking therapy when he started to get old enough that this would be inappropriate. He didn’t see how a lobotomy or some silly PhD on a couch could make this go away. He was a fly, this was fluorescent light. He knew it wasn’t good but it was in his nature to want it, to need it. Dr. Expensive Loafers would probably just tell him he had mommy issues and give him Percocet. Bill wanted to be a good guy but through the Plexiglas he could see Maurine bending over, just revealing her pink cotton panties. He’d found her attractive before, but with her new hair she’d taken on this hypnotic aura. That day, Cassie did not go home with Bill. That day, Cassie put a paper bag over her head. That day, Cassie pepper sprayed Maurine in the face. That day, Cassie stole a buzz-pro head shaver from aisle 43 and shaved Maurine’s head. She shaved off every blonde hair until Maurine looked like a baby. She hated having to do it—she liked Maurine. But love does crazy things sometimes. Sometimes you have to take off your D-mart vest and make other people bald.
Fall 2011 TheColumbiaReview
shit, and it was the Mecca of savings and obesity. Bill didn’t mind working there though—he liked helping people find fishing equipment, even if a lot of his customers were tools. Sometimes they’d be athletic, with neck muscles that went directly from their shoulders to their head. Those guys were okay, but Bill liked when they were fat, and they’d look at him and say “where’s that ab exercise thing I saw on TV?” Bill liked the effort. He didn’t mind working at QMart. Cassie didn’t feel the same way but she liked that she couldn’t hear the beep of her register when she looked over at Bill. She liked taking one car home. She liked how the car had three front seats, so she could sit right next to Bill on the way home. She liked how he would lean over, brush her hair back, and just say “Cass.” Cassie was basically pretty—long brown hair and sad eyes—nothing anyone looked too long at. She would sigh back and lean on him. When she was “Cass” it was always sunny and warm and her hair felt “mahogany” not brown. Some days, that last hour between 4 and 5, Cassie would nearly fall over onto the conveyor belt thinking about the cloth seats in his warm Chevy. She loved the way it smelled, like someone had smoked cigarettes in it a few years ago. Everything was going fine. Things were fine in a way that people never had to say it to each other the way they did after the incident. On this fine Godzilla of a Tuesday, Maurine, the other cashier got a haircut on her lunch break. This would have been fine except for Maurine hated the feeling of haircuts, so she put her hair in pigtails after she had gotten back. She hated how her hair felt different, and how people were always looking at the changes, noticing her too much. Maurine was also 17, making her just out of reach. Cassie knew bill. That was going to be a problem. Her jaw dropped as Maurine grabbed one of the lollipops in her station and wrapped her tongue around it, twirling her pigtail with the other hand. She knew what had to be done. That day in the break room, Bill and Cassie ate together at the same shitty Formica table they’d had their first lunch on. Cassie tried to keep his attention, but she knew him. She knew how bad this’d be. “Bill, sweetie?” she continued “do you want pot roast tonight?” He could see Maurine through the Plexiglas window. He hated that he could not look away—he was like a fly in a bug zapper.
Contributors Zachary Asher has an MFA in Creative Writing from Vanderbilt University, where he is co-founding editor of the online literary arts journal Nashville Review. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Greensboro Review, Sleet Magazine, Red Rock Review, and The Honey Land Review, among others. Currently he teaches at the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center, facilitating creative writing workshops for cancer patients and survivors. Jason Bell (CC '13) is a frequent barbecue eater and an occasional poet. He is currently growing out his hair, thinking about a spring marathon, and on the seventh season of Seinfeld. Billy Goldstein (CC '09) is a shill for poetry at Red Hen Press (www.redhen.org). He lives in Los Angeles.
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Meriam Raouf (CC '13), often called the Shaquille O'Neal of her time, is a voice of thousands of first generation Egyptian women who want to shame their families by writing lewd tales of pedophilia. No children or grocery store clerks were hurt in the making of this story. Dedicated to Mom, who has never said an American curse word her entire life. I understand if you want me to move out. P.J. Sauerteig, first year at Columbia College from Indiana. He is a creative writing major, with a concentration in French. His poetic heroes are: T.S. Eliot for his exquisite craft, and Anne Sexton and Jeff Mangum for their harrowing honesty.
William Prescott is a senior at Cornell with a seraphic passion for painting. He is majoring in Biometry and Statistics. For four years he's not seen the whites of his eyes, and looks forward to rearing caribou and trapping kolonoks in the Siberian wilderness.
Eliana Parnas is an undergraduate student at the University of Iowa, pursuing a degree in Interdepartmental Studies. She currently works at a public library, shelving books and acquiring a sufficient, if somewhat random, knowledge of the Dewey Decimal system. Other activities include eating Chinese food and laughing too loudly.
In the fourth grade, Ian Scheffler (CC ’12) made a giant jello fish and ate it after reading Redwall. Not much has changed, but perhaps that’s for the best. He’d like to thank the Review boards past and present for a thrilling time working on the magazine. Daniel Stainkamp is an abject nihilist and a canny reprobate who was educated stupid. He traded his mortarboard for a black flag and a jar of vegenaise, and used the crushing debt & debilitating substance habit he earned in college to pursue his lifelong dream of someday finding a box of money. Emily Stainkamp studied gay Nickelodeon cartoons at NYU and has designs on a JD. This is not her first poem about punching dudes. She lives in Brooklyn with her cat. Atti Viragh is an English major at Columbia's School of General Studies. In 2011, he was awarded the Van Rensselaer Poetry Prize. He is interested in poetry in translation, and recently read all of Ezra Pound's Cantos.
Sean Zhuraw (CC '12) is the editor of NEW POETRY at Columbia University. He interns at Boston Review. An escapement is the inner mechanism of a clock that fixes an impulse of the spring or wyeight to periodically check and release a balance wheel or pendulum. It is also other things. His poetry does not appear.
28 Sponsored in part by the Arts Initiative of Columbia University. This funding is made possible through a generous gift from The Gatsby Charitable Foundation
The Fall 2011 issue of The Columbia Review, the oldest college literary magazine in the nation. Volume 93, Issue 1.
Published on Dec 1, 2011
The Fall 2011 issue of The Columbia Review, the oldest college literary magazine in the nation. Volume 93, Issue 1.