HAVE YOU READ THIS?

The man looks at the bandage on his arm and back to the woman, mumbling, and reaches toward a bowl of cold rice.  Soon he is strong enough to walk outside and sit in the sunshine.  Jimo trades baskets for a pair of man’s pants, a shirt and sandals.  He goes with her to collect reeds.  He can carry twice as much as she.  But the words come slowly.  And when they do the dialect is foreign to Jimo.  The man can’t remember anything about the river.  He touches the key on the chain and frowns from the effort of remembering. 

I wish I could remember.  I must be someone.  All I want is to remember!

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3 Trailers from CWP Publishing

Suddenly panicked, he doesn’t see her the farther he penetrates the bamboo grove.  He runs.  On the other side are rows of parked cars.  Another memory, of the Park Avenue and now he remembers the kick!  He leans on his arms against his thighs until the pounding in his ears subsides.

“Are you okay?” she asks.  Suddenly she’s standing next to him in the hot sun, not in the snow.

“I guess, I’m… remembering things.”

Dui, this is the place.  Here, in the parking lot, they grabbed Rick,” she points to the back of a monolithic building on the other side of the cars.  “We chased them.  It was snowing.”

A metallic taste in his throat gags.

“We can go.  You look ill,” she continues, concerned.

Ron straightens, shrugs off the unpleasant sensations and smiles at her knitted brows.  “Bu fengle, don’t worry.  The Commander says to meet him at the coffee bar, you know where. Zouba.”

Walking along the avenue next to the canal, families with baby strollers and toddlers are out enjoying the day.  Pretty girls twirl umbrellas resting on their shoulders.  A humongous bush of double yellow roses tumbles over the wall and reflects in the still water below. 

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Sha Li at 5th Annual Literary Festival

“It’s not enough that you’ve been a tough champion of the people and rooted out gobs of corruption.  You have to tell them what you’ve done.  And video.  Really powerful stuff.  Can we use any of the bust video from Xi’an?”

The really powerful video from Lianyungang has already filtered through the selection committee.  Mai doesn’t know it, but the tee-shirt contest clip has made the rounds.  HUANG paid 1,000 yuan to the karaoke host for a copy of the video made by the sleazy entrepreneur.  He knew it was a matter of time before it would circulate farther.

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Sha Li's List - Best of 2015

Berlin’s sporadic and spasmodic career is traced by citations of stories published in magazines since the 60s onward.  She received the Jack London Short Prize in 1985, the American Book Award in 1991 and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

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Behind the Scenes Snapshots: Wounds of Attraction

In Rick’s Narcotics Anonymous group, he met a woman about his age.  She was a nurse in a local hospital who became over-familiar with the pill dispensary.  She lost her job and her credentials.  Mary Jo Thompson was divorced with two children in middle school.  She shared custody with her ex-husband who worked for the City of Santa Rosa.  After meetings, Rick and Mary Jo started having lunch together at Taco Bell.  Soon, it became a regular part of their daily routine:  finding enough things to fill the hours to mute the cravings.  Mary Jo listened to Rick’s crazy sounding ramblings about secret agents and his wife’s travels.  Rick listened to her domestic stories.  

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Sebastopol, California

Sebastopol

Born Maia Perizzolo, she shortened her name to Mai legally when she married Rick. Classic Gen-X’er, she was born in 1972 to hippie parents enrolled at Cal Berkeley who then migrated with the back-to-the-land movement to the Northern California idyll of Sonoma County. She grew up in a geodesic dome her parents built from recycled beams and hand-hewed redwood, with solar-powered lights and a composting toilet. The commune was a short drive from Sebastopol up Highway 12 in the Redwoods, called New World Utopia. It attracted dreamy idealists from the city who wanted to get in touch with their inner wa—harmony and peacewith the help of a little LSD, plenty of pot, a couple of hot tubs, and free love. 

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Snapshots

Kismet. She does, and Ron picks her up in a 1957 vintage Russian M72 bike with a sidecar. She hadn’t seen anything like it before. People in the neighborhood stare at them as she climbs into the little compartment. He hands her a modern helmet and tucks a blanket around her legs. She thinks, Ron looks dashing, dressed in blue denim jeans and a black leather jacket, a white turtle-necked tee shirt underneath.

“You’re going to want this,” he says, producing a woman’s leather jacket out of a side compartment.

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Escape from Here

Knocking softly, he tries the door handle.  It’s unlocked.  He enters.

Mai hears the door latch and stirs.  Her form sits up in bed and her voice floats into him.  It merges in his memory when she looks his way and asks, “Ron?”

Suddenly both are shy. 

“Mai?” he hoarsely whispers. “I…”

“Are you…?”

Resurrection of her memory emerges from a pool of pain.  Like a piece of flesh torn out of his brain. 

He begs her, “Help me … remember…”

“Come here,” she begs in return.

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What do people say?

Mai packages her first report, which inadvertently includes forbidden keywords, and hits the print command. She had been careful not to search on the permanently disallowed three Ts: Taiwan, Tibet, and Tian’anmen Square. But an article mentioning Beijing University had popped up several days after the controversial announcement that Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned Chinese dissident, had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Unbeknownst to her, Nobel Prize had become a forbidden keyword phrase, and she triggers a violation.

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Wounds of Attachment

Looking out the windows at the office or from the flat, the view was the same:  tall buildings in the distance smothered in a gray shroud, all familiar features hidden from view.  It's a dismal, freezing morning like all the rest when an email from her lands in his inbox.  Eagerly, he read each line and ran her JPEGs through a personal slide show, making Beijing seem less cold and nasty.  The city gradually emptied; the feeling of loneliness was almost unbearable.  People queued up for train tickets, cars mobbed the airport lanes.  Finally, it's his turn to leave the city.

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