The Little

  • “Language is powerful, almost magic, and the smallest alliteration can elevate a sentence or be its undoing.” This line might sound like a writer’s earnest musings, written longhand in a journal, but the character who voices the sentiment is in fact responding to a massage therapist’s frank assessment of her buttocks: “hard,” because, as the therapist puts it, “you’re a tight-ass with your feelings. An emotional tight-ass, a tight-fisted tightwad. Can’t you hear how everything’s right there in the words?”

    The buttocks in question belong to Sonja, a translator of gruesome crime novels, an aspiring licensed driver, and the woman at the heart of Dorthe Nors’s sharp, funny, brooding new novel Mirror, Shoulder, Signal, out in June from Graywolf Press.

  • “I believe in a world where impossible things happen.” This admission comes from the narrator of “Mothers,” one of the stories from Carmen Maria Machado’s debut collection, Her Body and Other Parties. In Machado’s fiction—queer, expansive, and formally daring—impossible things do happen: one by one, women turn transparent and insubstantial; girls-with-bells-for-eyes haunt a detective named Olivia Benson (yes, that one); and one character discovers, while working through a devastating trauma, that she can read the minds of actors in pornographic films. If Machado is adept at showing us these alternate worlds, her book also reminds us, in some of its most terrifying moments, of the things that can and do happen in our own.

    Machado’s fiction, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Tin House, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications, as well as the anthologies Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy, Best Horror of the Year, Year’s Best Weird Fiction, and Best Women’s Erotica.

  • The second novel in an engrossing trilogy, Transit, by Rachel Cusk, follows a British writer and her family through a series of vignettes. In focus, here, is the world around her, even more so than in other novels; we learn fairly little about the narrator, and much more about the interlocutors she meets in passing, a chapter at a time. A large part of the book takes place in a house undergoing renovation—one of the only novels I can think of that does so. It’s quite a wellspring of material, turns out. —Griffin Brown

    I just finished Ali Cobby Eckermann’s Ruby Moonlight, a collection of poetry that traces the fleeing of a young Aboriginal woman following the destruction of her home and family. The woman becomes friends and lovers with an Irish man named Miner Jack.

  • Dear reader,

    A few weeks ago, America elected its new President. Then came Thanksgiving. And now, just as final exams and papers are inevitably upon us, we present to you the Yale Little.

    It has taken us a good part of the semester to create a vision for the Little, and to reach out to writers and artists, read their work, and incorporate it into our new website. And then as everything was finally coming together, we second-guessed ourselves. What were we doing editing this website when our country and our futures suddenly became unrecognizable?

    But the submissions kept coming, and each one affirmed what we had already known. That we find strength in each other, in ourselves, in our voices. That despite our country’s penchant for believing what it wants to believe and ignoring what it doesn’t want to hear, true communication has lost none of its power.

  •                 after György Ligeti


    This August, I wake up
    in the heat, woozy as always.
    My figure lies stained
    on the sheets, which bunch up
    near the end of the bed.

    When I write, now, the lines
    come willingly. They’ve glutted
    on me; they can sense
    what’s in my hand.
    They’ve got me typeset,
    arranged on the page.

    Like a canon,
    our few motifs
    reverberate but
    do not breed;
    often they are only
    transposed, or
    given to another voice.

    But if I could get ahead
    of the echo, I might be able
    to blur the letters.

  • Today, it rained. I slept in.

    In 1650s Delft, on rainy days like today, the Dutch painter Jan Vermeer also slept in—I’d like to think.

    Yesterday was Saturday, so Mark drove down from Coventry, which is 20 minutes east of Hartford and the birthplace of Nathan Hale. At lunch, I ask Mark what he’d write a song about. “Climate Change,” he says. I watch him. He stares back. Mark, a 62-year old cabinetmaker, is one of my dearest friends. For two years, we have gathered wood from his property to shape into objects—bowls, birds, stools, benches. Around a bonfire, Mark will hand me a beer and list the problems of the world—overpopulation, disease, institutional oppression. Then, I’ll try to keep up with the whirring of his mind. I’ll think of jotting down solutions.

  • 1

    Cameras flashing, Nixon downtrodden,
    Amidst the sea of reporters, he stands out defeated.
    “This will be my last press conference”, famous last words,
    Stands of bulbs lie around to capture the moment in clear black-and-white.
    Reporters stalk him up the red carpet to the podium. There he stands and pauses,
    To collect his small speech.
    “You won’t have old Nixon to kick around anymore”.
    More flashes, and puffs from the bulbs,
    And the crowd of words from the gathered grey suits in front of him.


    Nixon at his inauguration,
    The snow falls around the Capital steps.
    He sees, and smiles, and does not think.
    Two hundred thousand lie in the sea below him,
    This is a time for action, he says, and his concerned eyes glow,
    His hand clenches into a fist, and the crowd starts to buzz.

  • The road to Antelope, Oregon bears none of the trademarks of a pilgrimage route. No medieval cobblestones, no holy wells. No cairns or crosses or signposts inscribed with prayer. Instead, Route 293 winds through an unmarked landscape that’s more like a cross between the most desolate Star Wars planet and the set of a cheap Western film. High desert crags and plateaus the color of cardboard. Lonely fences draped in thick dust. Here and there a skinny cow, chewing on bone-dry scraggy sagebrush, blinks in weary bemusement at passing cars. The road itself—a potholed, dust-blown two-lane highway—connects the mountains of Central Oregon to towns everybody forgets about: Maupin, Fossil, Antelope, the lost reaches of the Eastern edge of the state. Yet at approximately 8:53 pm on a July evening, I stood in the middle of that road, knelt in the dust of the center lane, and praised God.