Also, to kick off the sale, and because we're thrilled that the new issue (vol. 7, no. 2) is very close to being ready, we're going to be featuring a series of special previews from it. Today's preview is an excerpt from Peter Orner's creative nonfiction piece, "Horace and Josephine."
Aunt Josephine used to slip fifty-dollar bills into the front shirt pocket of my brother's Cub Scouts uniform. Go buy yourself something nice, solider, she'd whisper. Then she'd put one of her long, exquisite fingers to her lower lip to let him know that her little secret of General Grant could stay between them. And even after Uncle Horace was completely disgraced and spent that week in jail awaiting trail for embezzlement before my grandfather, bless his heart, bailed him out with the little money he had left, the little money that Horace hadn't managed to steal, and they were living in 'reduced circumstances' in Aunt Molly's spare room, I could still see Aunt Josephine doing that with the fifties. Because she walked around Aunt Molly's cramped little stucco house on Wampanoag Street the same way she did that beautiful marble-floored palace way up at the top of the hill on President Avenue. The fact that Horace had been arrested didn't change her. Or the paintings she hung on her walls, the paintings she hid for months in my grandmother's attic. We all knew that the paintings were all they had left, the only things not seized by a gang of bankers and creditors who swarmed the house as soon it all went to hell, flashing their business cards and bearing reams upon reams of paper, as if anyone needed proof that their latest fresh kill was insolvent.
But to Josephine, the paintings, one of which she claimed was an early Chagall (a picture of a small elfin man raising his arms, Job-like to God, a pose my brother and I make whenever we talk about Uncle Horace) represented who she was, not who she once was. True, they now hung on the flaky yellow walls of Great Aunt Molly's living room. They no longer adorned a grand front hall like the one she used to hustle guests through with a flurry of wild waving, Darlings, don't dwadle, come in, come in! Come in! Yet even at Molly's where the change in circumstances couldn't have been more stark, Josephine's gray deep-set eyes gave nothing away. Not regret, never anger.
"Horace and Josephine" will be available in its entirety in the soon to be released vol. 7, no. 2. To make sure you get it as soon as possible, sign up for a subscription today. Remember to put "Holiday Sale" in the special instructions box to make sure you get the bonus issue.