by Nick Bogdanich
“What You Bargained For,” by Mai Nardone, Kenyon Review
A dissolving marriage finds this prudish narrator at the threshold of a new one with a stripper in Bangkok. The woman on stage is nothing like Rick’s wife, so why do we get the feeling that this new relationship will end where the old one did? The writing in this piece is active and precise.
“Go Between,” by Peter Rock, Ploughshares
The protagonist in this story meets a friend in the park to discuss a mutual acquaintance he’s admired from afar, and runs into his much creepier doppelganger, who admits to stalking his own love interest. Alex tries to commiserate with friends about the stranger, but why can’t he get anyone to acknowledge the severity of the situation? How much alike are these two admirers? Read this piece for a good example of counterpointed characters.