August 2011


Rosetta Allan
Jenny Argante
Gigi Fenster
Helen Heath
Kerry Hines
David Howard
Andrea Jeftanovic
André Naffis-Sahely
James Norcliffe
Maris O'Rourke
Jack Ross
L.E. Scott
Campbell Taylor
Alan Wall
Hayden Williams

Issue 16 Guest Artist:
Tom Mutch

President: Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Deputy Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Sampurna Chattarji
Sarah Churchwell
Hollis Clayson
Sally Cline
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Siobhan Harvey
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Laurie Maguire
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Paschalis Nikolaou
Martha Nussbaum
Sari Nusseibeh
Tim Parks
Molly Peacock
Pascale Petit
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elena Poniatowska
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Élisabeth Roudinesco
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
Rebecca Swift
Susan Tiberghien
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Bathtime by Campbell Taylor  


You watch her talk to her new lover on the phone. Her nipple sitting on the water, her breast fatter than you'd noticed. A black feather breaks the surface between your bodies, slowly twisting where it was dropped. She giggles and simmers while her sweat melts into the oils of some flower and you.

She's worried because she'd grabbed this new scruff in the bloated aftermath of a meal wolfed too fast and followed him home and drunk so much she couldn't possibly drive and finally at two a.m. they'd got it over with and had the least intimate sex of her life but somehow it'd worked because he was so beautiful and cold with the only blue eyes she could remember wanting and maybe he was just too good-looking to have any passion and what could someone so beautiful see in her? She'd intimated at her situation while lighting the bath, her unexpected nuzzle of reunion still a gentle rapture when she'd blurted her news — two new jumps in less than a week. The first: much older with the possibility of a future. The latest: young and gorgeous. But she felt drastic and unsure and had tried to remove the former by sleeping with the latter. And now she thinks of the older man — he told such amazing stories — had a healing touch and so many admirers (which, being celibate, he never exploited) and she was the only one in years to snare his heart and desires, and why did he choose her, why? He'd be so hurt when he found out and she knows it shouldn't matter but she couldn't help thinking about twenty years time when he'd be sixty-shit… he was the most amazing person she'd ever met and now she'd done this. Honestly, she had tried to let him down gently but that just led to sex so she really had no choice but to sleep with someone else and the pretty boy had been keen, and she was flattered and curious, but they hadn't spoken since and she was getting worried.

The fire beneath the bath cracks, you see the candles in her eyes and the romance washes any reality from your gaze. She's glowing from the whiskey or oncoming cold (or both), gushing and sweating about her predicament — looking so good — there is no sign of the extra flesh she claims to be carrying. You're together in the tub because she wants to keep talking: it's months since the last visit, and because she's coming down with something she has to drink whiskey, and soak. Your shared connection is stronger than sex you wordlessly agree.

The last bath together was just before you were let loose. Her smile said everything as she lifted her foot out of the water to twist your nipple with her toes. This time there's no contact. But you are here, where are they?

Unsure, you start to raise the feather. She looks at it, wide and smiling, and starts to speak just as the new scrag calls. She is so relieved to talk to him her legs unlock and grab at you as she giggles on the phone, looking into the blue eyes watching her, while her feather is dropped into the silence of the stew.

You've carried the feather since the last deep kiss: at a party by accident, a reunion by mistake. She was wrapped in a shiny black boa, drunk, kissing boys, shedding a trail you followed through the night till she trapped you behind a door and didn't say a thing.

"Me and my boys, what a story." You're in bed, squirming side by side in the crisp-fresh sheets. She's worried about passing on her cold but you'll never share her roof without sharing her bed, and what could ever happen with her talking about her men? She sighs and snuggles closer. She's naked and her backside feels like silk, but you aren't aroused (not that you can admit). 'Me and my strays...' She looks into your eyes and says sorry with a laugh, then mumbles a kiss and turns her back and growls, her soft behind jiggling against you.

You lie there listening to her whiskey snore: she's crushing a nerve and you've lost all feeling. It isn't pain but it isn't comfort. You're curled around her warmth, breathing her body — she smells the same as you. At times you can't feel any edges and the sensation comes as a wave of pleasure causing you to flinch and her to moan a reassurance. Surely, the feeling is so pure she will know why you're here and want you more than any unwashed other.

She runs with stray dogs: it's her term, on her terms. She doesn't get on with most women, is happiest with certain men; the type who wander and offer no commitment, who play and howl and don't want babies — or control — or need to escape both. You were just passing through and now you're getting stuck. Tripped by a kiss and collared by her intimacy you question how you were carried by a feather, and what colour she sees when she looks at your eyes. You want to press against her thighs and feel her extra weight, to smooth across her belly to see why none of her pants will fit. But those movements belong to lovers and you are sleepily undefined. A moment squeezes you together. She moans her love in a whisper and your reply tickles her face. You wonder who she has in her bed and which stray dog inhabits your skin.