Coming Soon! A collection of nonfiction works by Stephanie Harrison: Men from a Broken Country

Metropolitan Home

The trouble with having embraced minimalism is that when her mother and grandmother come to visit, she doesn't have any chairs, except in the dining room, that her grandmother can sit in--or get out of--comfortably, and so that's how she and her mother and grandmother end up spending the entire week playing pinochle at the dining room table, and her grandmother, who can no longer remember her own middle name or how to use a microwave, can still play well--it's uncanny how well she plays--although she has to be reminded often of the trump suit, but when she takes a trick, her old exuberance returns, and she shouts, "Yabba dabba doo!" and then between hands she sings Danny Boy, ending, with a convincing catch in her throat, on the line, "I'll kneel and say an Ave there for thee," and they (she and her mother) wonder out loud what will be left of their lives when everything is peeled away, what phrases, silly or otherwise, will define them, and her mother thinks (hopes), for her it will be, "But the greatest of these is charity," and she thinks (fears) that for her it will be something about a blackbird and an unmade bed.

©Stephanie Harrison, first published in Quarterly West

Selected Works

You crossed the line, my friend Ann tells me. I’m visiting her in California. We’ve borrowed a trailer perched on a small mountain so that we can have a quiet place to write. Now I’m trying to explain why I can’t focus, why my nerves are so jangly. Why I can only take short, shallow breaths ...
He reads Ragtime while being poisoned by a nurse with a woodpecker tattooed on her ankle, and afterwards he describes this to Lily over hamburgers and beer--he is ravenous (go figure)--and she chuckles...
Effortless, like floating in the Great Salt Lake. Forty years ago, as a boy, Zach McKenna did this while on vacation in Utah, and he's never forgotten the sensation of lying still on the surface of the water, arms and legs spread wide, perfectly buoyant. Lately he's been thinking that in the span of a lifetime, these moments are too...
This is how I remember it: I'm ten or eleven, lounging with my cousins and Aunt Corinne on her sun porch. She's wearing a pink Chanel-style dress, like Jackie Kennedy, and she's sipping iced tea from a hot-pink metal tumbler. She's just discovered, she tells usthat someone is living in her house while she and my uncle are at work. Her crossed legs are bare and one of them jiggles up and down while she talks. As she grows more excited--telling us about her strange feeling, the little things she couldn't put her finger on...