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Terese Svoboda

This fall Dzanc Books published the novel Pirate Talk or Mermalade, Terese Svoboda's sixth book of prose.

The Ditch

She steps out. She’s left the keys inside she decides the moment she hears the heavy door shut itself. Great. A domestic tragedy but due, as it were, with the other. And there the keys hang, inside the automatically locked.


It tastes like this, he says, try it. He swallows more hotel pool water.

The Ta-Da Girl

The dog is silent, in shock, until they start to twirl sticks. I tie the dog to a post outside while a horror movie Don’t do that backs into my head. They are still twirling when I return, but slower, tossing a burning stick between them.

Angel Face

A cherub’s face, really a sex-stunned preteen’s face, the true face of an Italian country boy introduced to the world just as the forbidden fruit falls from the tree—he turns that face toward her.


Her parents left her for home some days earlier, the safari they all took together over, so nice to see you, her mother not to be outdone by her daughter’s travel by inviting her to tour Africa’s glamour instead of sleeping on calfskin-strewn dirt in hovels—what do you call them? tukels?—full of actual Africans

The Financier

I have this boat, he said, and swung the model past his pool, his typing pool with me the sole swimmer. He balanced the boat across my Smith Corona.

London Boy

It is almost midnight.

The Stroke of Midnight

Imperious still, she sat up in her bed set up on the patio surrounding the pool she built that forced a perspective of chlorinated water over the far edge, one that met the ocean so without seam you swam into it with your eyes, swam without the cliff that separated your perspective from one water to the next. Her four sons watched the white glitter of the fireworks in that trick perspective, heard her lover bang at the door that he insisted he owned half of, and drank a little wine. Because it was the New Year’s fireworks, because their mother loved that holiday with its riot of resolutions and absurd abandon, they would’ve given her vodka through a tube if she’d had one.


The Brooklyn Rail

JUNE 2023

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