Fiction and Drama

The Boat

The Boat

When you come in all excited about putting on your short shorts, that’s new to me

On our sides, the flood flowed through gutters into lawns and lapped at the bases of driveways. The occasional house’s garage was open and a generator ran. A few people stood outside smoking or watching the water. Aubrey began pushing again and yelled hello to someone, who yelled hello back. What did we look like to them? A black boy and a white girl on a boat in the flood, a case of water between them, the boy sitting at the front as though being ferried, the girl standing in the back as though in control.

English Is Mine

English Is Mine

Dutch people, in live-action Dutchness

This is our English. Brought to us by Playmobil, Intertoys, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Superman and Batman, Michael Jackson, Rocky Balboa, the internet, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe, advertisements, clothing labels, Coca-Cola, Big Macs, Nike Air Max, cars, hotel signs, warnings, et cetera, et cetera. Clear and without the secret in-crowd nuances. Every controversial word we use has been pointed out—called out? You should try it: speaking world-English. No hidden or fuzzy meanings. Democratic. Accessible to all. Eat it or starve behind your own bastions, you dialect-speakers. But hé, I don’t care.

An American Historian

An American Historian

Cover pages curling like scrolls around the name Ben-Zion Netanyahu

My books still in print include A General History of Taxation; Taxation Without Representation: A History of America in Ten Taxes; Import Quotas, Export Subsidies: A Journey through Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade; Embargo: A History; Blood Money: The Taxation of Slavery, and George Sewall Boutwell: Abolitionist, Suffragist, and Father of the IRS.

The Easiest Job in the World

The Easiest Job in the World

We felt perfectly enclosed

Ethan and Esther had slept together the night before. All of us knew about it, but no one had talked about it. Including Ethan and Esther. That had kind of ruined the trip for Ethan, who had found himself watching Esther for outward sign of an inner flame, one that if it flickered did so very gently and very delicately, pale but nonetheless warm. Esther, in contrast, had spent most of the trip worried about her nausea, which had just now abated. She leaned back into her seat and gave an undirected sigh. She thought of the hot tub at the Airbnb and of how the clouds had boiled overhead on the beach.

Girl Janitor and the Knot

Girl Janitor and the Knot

I don’t even like wall mounts

At nine, the girl janitor got picked up by her girlfriend, who had a car. It was a nice hybrid car, half-gas and half-organic. The girlfriend stayed home all day and did home projects. Or she went to the hardware store to get things for her home projects. The home projects were expensive and never-ending. This week she was trying to install a wall-mount for the TV. The TV had legs and it sat nicely on the girlfriend’s vintage credenza but the girlfriend wanted the TV to hang on the wall. The janitor didn’t ask why.

The Sexual Translator

The Sexual Translator

“I want to borrow your embodiment.”

Most books, he discovered, were about sex, whether or not the author knew it. The translator’s job was to uncover what the original author could not divine. I befriended the translator late in his life, approximately ten years before his death. His funeral I didn’t attend, because I took pleasure in inverting the social rules—just as I had violated the rules by befriending this august personage in the first place.

Rumble in the Jungle

Rumble in the Jungle

“Google it! Google ‘hedonic treadmill.’”

At the same time, I can tell that something big is about to take place. Something extraordinary. If Ralf manages to beat Sune while Sune’s playing full out, it’ll be a gift to the three of us present to witness it. It’ll be a tribute to what human beings can achieve when they’re at their greatest and best. The boys must feel that way too. They’ve come to love Ralf, as I now have. And that’s why Sune is playing as hard as he can. Only then can Ralf show us what a human being can be.

Scary Sites

Scary Sites

So are you saying, common victimhood? Is that what it is?

— You know Cody is pretending to be an outsider artist.
— I know! Anyway, this guy, Phoebe’s husband, was like, how did you get this, and I was like, I used to hang out with these people, and he was like, oh yeah I knew them, or this circle of people, and then it came out that the person he knew best was Cody. And he just said it like that, “Cody Garrison.” And I think I had given some generic version of the story in which I said I used to be married to someone who was close to Oren Droste. And after the guy said Cody Garrison, I was like, yes, that’s the person I used to be married to. And the guy was like, oh. He sort of didn’t know what to say.

Double the Song

Double the Song

I know what a vibe is

For a long time she had loved karaoke. Honestly, she had loved it too much. The love was frantic but also complex, a complexity born of her desire to expose herself and be known, and her concomitant dread of exposing herself and being known. Of all the forms this conflict had ever taken in her life, karaoke was the purest.