Although we have a Recommended Readings list for prose (see the link in the Guidelines), every once in a while we like to make special mention of pieces we've read that were particularly engaging. In some of the past years, we did this via a "Lit Pick of the Quarter"—citing in Editors' Notes a specific story or essay that was recently published in a literary magazine. Other times, we collected a smattering of isolated, beautifully written sentences and listed them on a single page.

We endeavor, once again, with something similar. Here we account for our favorite pieces of short prose read in literary magazines in 2015. Be advised: We did not read every issue of every literary magazine published in the year, as you might have guessed, nor did we read only those that landed in our lap any old which way. Some issues arrived via subscription, some were bought in bookstores, some were screaming "Take Me" on tables at AWP-Minneapolis or CLMP-Soho, and some found their way to us via a variety of other miraculous means.

If you do not find your favorite piece below, you may conclude we simply did not get the chance to read it. For this we are dreadfully sorry. And so, alphabetically ordered by author's last name, here are those short stories and essays from 2015 that convinced us new literary writing is still what makes the world go 'round and 'round.


Mary Clearman Blew's "What My Hands Know," from Gettysburg Review. A female protagonist finds a quilting box of a dead woman and sets out to make a quilt in a pattern design therein.

Paul Crenshaw's "Excerpts, Pictures, Lightning and Thunder," from Zone 3. A somewhat rebellious daughter as seen through the eyes of her father.

Anthony Doerr's "Thing With Feathers That Perches in the Soul," originally in Granta and read by us in Pushcart Prize XL. The history of a very small house in 1800's Idaho.

Alex R. Jones' "Small Time," from The Sun. A man speaks of working in a law firm when he was younger, and wanting to be a writer.

Laleh Khadavi's "Wanderlust," originally in The Sun and read by us in Pushcart Prize XL. Russian women who long to leave their country in search of foreign love and life.

Keith Lesmeister's "Nothing Prettier Than This," from Gettysburg Review. A relaxing read involving farm-sitting and collecting cows from the field.

Askold Melnyczuk's "How to Behave Inside an Embrace," from Gettysburg Review. A married woman has crushes on two of her friends' husbands.

Nicole E. Miller's "Last Night at the Breakers," from New Letters. Memoir of a dead sister with an innovative concept: no details of the death.

Janice Obuchowski's "King of the Goats," from Passages North. After cheating on his wife—a novelist, a man moves to a farm.

Susan Perly's "Picasso's Pigeons," from Zone 3. A married woman in Barcelona studies some of the artist's work.

Wendy Rawlings' "Food and Worker Safety Across the Globe," originally in Creative Nonfiction and read by us in Pushcart Prize XL. Snappy narration of a girl infected with E. coli.

Ronna Wineberg's "Bare Essentials," from Michigan Quarterly Review. A woman in a long-time affair with a married man contemplates passion and life.


Who Do We Think We Are, The New Yorker?

Found opposite the title page of a book published by a university press out West —

"The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources and the minimum requirements of the American National Standard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials Z39.48-1984."

Understood. But we'll still keep the book far from children and pets.


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