This month we have original fiction from Nalo Hopkinson (“Ally”) and Stephanie Malia Morris (“Bride before You”), along with reprints by Trent Hergenrader (“The Hodag”) and Stephen Graham Jones (“Till the Morning Comes”). In the latest installment of our column on horror, “The H Word,” Lisa Morton writes about dementia. Terence Taylor gives us reviews of fresh new fiction, and of course we have author spotlights with our authors.
May 2018 (Issue 68)
Be sure to read the Editorial for a rundown of this month’s content and to get all our latest updates.
Such a beautiful boy, Cornelius Clay. Pity no woman’ll marry him. And to think it ain even his fault, sweet baby, born into money and beauty both, like the good Lord couldn’t part with his blessings fast enough. Lord, this boy. Skin so bright he looks anointed, hair straight as an Indian’s and black as molasses. There’s four generations of freedmen in that skin and hair, and he can name every single one of them. He got a body so fine, even the angels cryin out: silver screen silhouette in a tailored suit and two-toned wingtips, hat brim so crisp its shadow slices butter.
I still remember that cold October afternoon in 1936 when Whitey McFarland’s old coonhound Maggie dragged herself out of the forest, whimpering and yowling. Her skin hung off her sides in red flaps and her eyes rolled wildly. She collapsed on the ground and howled. All us kids loved Maggie, but not one of us dared go near her, not while she was baring her teeth and snarling. Benny Carper dropped the bat and ran off; Ira Schmidt just stood there staring at the half-dead animal as it pawed the frozen dirt.
My eighty-five-year-old mother, who has been living in a board and care facility since August 2017, recently told me a remarkable anecdote: when I was eleven, there was a big story in the news about a missing thirteen-year-old girl. One day, Mom and Dad spotted the missing child on the street and brought her home, where she stayed with us for a few days until the authorities arranged to get her back to her family. What gave this story its real punch ending was my mother’s discovery that another one of the residents at the board and care was that little girl, all these years later.
It’d been a warm, sunny spring afternoon. The grass in the cemetery was green, the roses and lavender in the wreaths fragrant. Iqbal’s funeral had been a quiet affair, all things considered. Our circle was getting too old for the type of soap opera drama that had marked our younger years. We’d lived for enough decades that my friends and I had settled into some kind of rhythm, had dared to allow some of our sharp edges to be burnished smooth. So by the time of Iqbal’s funeral, Grey had long since given up staging drunken screaming matches in parking lots with Jésus.
It was supposed to stop after that summer. My mom told me it would, and when she told my dad about it—him just home from third shift, his whiskers all grown back in already, eyes hungry for something none of us ever had for him—he just licked his lips and told me to get on back in there. That he wished he had the luxury of being scared. Because my mom couldn’t help me then, because all she could do was sit on the couch, I’d do it; I’d walk down the hall to my room. Or, our room then, mine and Nicholas’s, my little brother.
This year Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein celebrates its 200th birthday. To celebrate, Terence Taylor looks at a brand-new edition of the novel (illustrated by David Plunkert), as well as Victor LaValle’s new take on the tale: the graphic novel Victor LaValle’s Destroyer.