THE HALLMAN BY CORA CRUZ 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 63
No one talks about what it does to us, having to waste our lives like this, letting our time on this earth slip away for nothing, every day at work the same as the one before, watching ourselves never improving, never growing, not ever going anywhere.
FASHION COPYWRITER BY ELLEN BLOOMENSTEIN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 63
THIS ABOVE ALL ELSE BY CORIE ROSEN 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 63
This above all else:
Write nothing pastoral.
Do not celebrate the seasons.
Do not clasp hands with time.
Do not write about love.
(Whatever you do, please don’t do that.)
WHERE DID ALL THE DENTISTS GO? BY ROBERT EMMERS 34THPARALLEL MAGAZINE ISSUE 63
My approach to fiction is a committed realism, as much as I can manage. I know that is not everyone’s approach. And I know that begs the question of—you know—what is real, what is truth, what is truth-telling, what is the role of a “truth-teller” in our society, or in societies historically; which is why I tend also to be reflexive (philosophical) even in the “fiction”. There’s always a distancing, you portray a situation, a first personal experience and perspective, but there are always the reflexive examinations in the background (is what I am saying true? How can I know? Why does it matter? How could/should it be evaluated?)
I live in New York, an independent scholar and writer. I also more or less hold down a day job in financial services and manage on occasion not to completely neglect my three kids. My recent novel is The Meditations of Manuel de la Vega. I’ve also written for the Tulane Review, New Millenium Writings, the Comparative and Continental Philosophy journal, and a couple times already for the 34thParallel Magazine. I studied philosophy at Hamilton College and then at the New School for Social Research.
This past fall, I attended a writer’s residency in Western Massachusetts. The leaves were falling from the trees, the streets full of their red and golden bodies. It was cold and remote and romantic. Toward the end of the residency, I found myself sitting at the town’s only bar, a narrow lakeside tavern. While I was finishing my glass of wine, I got into an argument with a wild-eyed math professor in his sixties. The professor—whose name I never got—insisted (after he’d drunk two or three martinis, his hair going wilder all the time), that math is a kind of Romanticism, a pure aesthetic. Mathematics, he claimed, is an expression of true nature, and true nature is always beautiful. I argued that aesthetics are shaped by culture and experience, but he disagreed. To him, the discipline itself was the aesthetic, not the content or even its forms.
Months later, as I was working on a cycle of love poems (a sort of short story in poetic narration), I started to think about whether romantic love, like math, might be its own aesthetic. I wrote this poem, I think, to explore that question. Our world, the world of social media, of false personas, of the commodification of sexual partners, of constant advertising of the self to others, seems to preclude the kind of elementally pure romantic love that writers from earlier periods have exalted. (I like to think of what might have happened if Keats and Shelly had been on airplanes and Instagram, instead of at manor houses and in row boats).
I have a degree in literature from UC Berkeley, a graduate degree from UCLA, and have taught writing at Arizona State University and at the University of Colorado Boulder. My writing has been published in Arts & Letter, Juked, and Crab Creek Review. My first book of poems, Words for Things Unsaid, is to be published by Aldrich Press in 2020
I was always both entranced and mystified by stories. I can remember, when I was five or six, visiting great-grandfather in the nursing home to which great-grandmother, who’d had it up to here, had exiled him. He was half-reclining in a window seat wrapped to the neck in at least three plaid blankets because this was winter on the south coast of Maine and the nursing home wasn’t lavish with the forced air. He was telling me a story that featured a crowd of retainers watching the beheading of Mary Queen of Scots. He got in all the gory details—the falling ax, the spurting blood, the severed head rolling down the steps. I have no idea why, for heaven’s sake, he thought the story appropriate for a six-year-old. But I do remember thinking there was something magical going on here.
How did great-grandfather know where to start? How did he know what happened next? How did he know when he had come to the end? How did he know who the people were in the story? It was all so mystifying. (I was six years old.)
I was writing a lot about job experiences and thinking about a book to write about jobs in fashion. Then when my actual job ended and I had had an awful job and then it did end (thank god) I decided to write about it while embellishing the facts and drawing from other experiences as well. I wanted the characters to be me and my actual boyfriend, so I didn’t change our names. I did, however change the names of all the other characters. I wanted this story to seem real and have the reader wonder whether it was fact or fiction or both which indeed it is. I wanted to blur the lines between fact and fiction.
I’ve had stories published with 34thParallel, Drunk Monkeys, Pig Iron Press. I’ve also had poems published on Referential, Zeek, Good Foot, Rosebud, Sonora Review, and more. I have an MFA from the New School and an undergraduate degree from Skidmore. I’ve also self-published a novel and novella.
I’m a retired newspaper reporter and editor and university journalism professor. Just two years out of journalism school at the University of Southern California, while working for the Daily Breeze in Redondo Beach, California, I wrote the local reaction story to the assassination of President Kennedy. A year later, I covered the Beatles’ first West Coast news conference and the 9.2 Good Friday earthquake in Alaska.
I became city editor of the Daily Breeze and, a few years later, of the Santa Monica Evening Outlook. Along the way, I picked up a master’s degree in journalism, also from USC, just because it seemed like a good idea. I spent a few years in governmental press relations, working on the 1977 campaign of Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley as news secretary.
In 1981, thanks to that MA, I took a teaching job at California State University, Fullerton, serving as adviser to the student newspaper, the Daily Titan, for nearly 12 years. Graduates from our program during my time there have worked for the New York Times, New York Post, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, Seattle Times, Rocky Mountain News, Louisville Courier-Journal, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Detroit Free Press, Newsday, Hartford Courant, Portland Oregonian, Asahi Shimbun in Tokyo, and other publications. I’ve been retired for a decade. I’ve done a bit of freelance writing, largely baseball- or travel-related. My story on the John Lennon Museum near Tokyo was published by the New York Times. Another, on the continued popularity of Buddy Holly in the UK, was used by the Times of London. My interview with the operator of the southernmost brewery in the world, in Ushuaia, Argentina, was in the Orange County, California, Register.
But few newspapers use freelance work these days, and a couple of friends encouraged me to try short fiction. I liked the idea. This is my second try at it. I like that after a half-century of scrupulously being sure that all my quotes from contacts are accurate I can now make up my own quotes. I still enjoy writing as much as I did nearly 60 years ago.
I love hiking (especially any place where you might see a bear). I visited Glacier National Park not long ago and learned that in 1850 there were 150 glaciers and now there are 26, and some say it’s inevitable we will lose all of them over the next few decades. I believe in science and the power of fiction to bring attention to what science tells us about ourselves, our planet, and our future. I’m not saying a story should be preachy, but I think it’s OK if the writer weaves in some meaning. There’s an environmental doomsday element in The Hunter but hopefully people just enjoy the story, too. I grew up in rural Iowa and spent summers on my grandparents’ farm in Minnesota, so maybe that’s why I like a good Western novel or anything with a little adventure. I’ve lived in Dallas and New York City and now I live in Washington, DC, where I work as an attorney. I’m a new writer and I have a short story that will be published in Down in the Dirt magazine later this year.