Portland Head Light is legendary for its bright beam that cuts through the empty darkness. Here at Portland Monthly Magazine, we love our legendary fiction section. We are singular north of Boston for having one, making you both discerning and singular as readers. We are proud to have run fiction across our dazzling array of issues since we were founded in 1985.
Which is a story in itself.
Fabulous, edgy Joan Connor, winner of the AWP Prize for Fiction, published her first short story in Portland Magazine.
When I first met Sebastian Junger, I ventured “Good writer” as a note for him on the Rolodex card I still have. Four years before The Perfect Storm (May 1997), his short story “Speeding On Small Roads” appeared in our July/August 1993 issue. Did Junger’s star quality (and flair for cataloguing) show that early on, when our readers discovered him ahead of the curve? You decide:
“She’d been drawing all afternoon. She’d drawn onions she’d drawn work boots–Joey had two pair–she’d drawn paper clips she’d drawn her toes real large. Joey stood in the hallway and stripped his clothes. He peeled off his Carhartt, his sweatshirt, his flannel shirt, his other flannel shirt, his long john top, his canvas work pants, his long john bottoms, his socks and walked up to her. He was utterly naked. She continued to draw.”
More intimately, the reason why we luxuriate in our fiction section is, we care about writing, and we care about you. Reading is an out-of-body experience. It’s fun to travel with writers who think long and deep about Maine. And every Summerguide, we go all out to grab a big name. Writers up in lights in Portland Magazine’s pantheon include Christina Baker Kline (Orphan Train), Rick Moody (The Ice Storm), Mameve Medwed, Jack Driscoll, Morgan Callan Rogers, Andrew McCarthy, Gwen Thompson, Michael C. White, John Buffalo Mailer, Lewis Turco, Jason Brown, Ann Hood, Kate Christensen, and on and on.
Because we’re driven by writing, our interns become stars. Our first intern, Hannah Holmes, is the author of The Secret Life of Dust. Intern Jason Brown wrote fiction for us before W.W. Norton published his Driving the Heart and he won a visiting writer’s chair at Stanford. Don’t miss Gwen Thompson’s prize-winning novella Men Beware Women.
So who’s the über talent in this issue? Dan Domench has written for us a record 42 times in our just over 300 issues. The fiction section is a private squash court to him, a box full of tension, a place of exactness. The second I started reading his story “Perhaps You Can’t Help Yourself,” a shiver ran through me. Here, I send that shiver to you.