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Illustration by Matteo Gallo

I came to writing late, starting at age thirty-four. My artistic life was born a month after my first child was born. I’m not fully conscious of the reasons for this. I only know that my writing often rises out of the dissonance between artistic and family life and that the poem included in the North American Review is no exception. Time is always the enemy. The need to spend time with my wife and children. The need to spend time with my...

Our Halloween treat continues with a story called "Skin Dreams" by Kent Nelson from issue 296.4, Fall 2011. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

The room is dark; Justine wants darkness to sleep.  It’s a requirement for her, like silence and warmth.  But now a smooth gray light appears as a rectangle around the heavy-lidded blinds, so I know it’s morning.  I’m lying on my back next to...

Conrad, my main character in "Equinox", barely existed in the first drafts of this story. He was supposed to be a teenager dealing with his dad going off the deep end, but instead he was somewhat shy, somewhat hesitant, somewhat sad and confused. He was barely a side character. I tried pushing him into an ending–forcing him to blow up on his dad—but that ending didn't make any sense at all. I didn't see Conrad making that decision–and worse, because he was only “sort of” sad and...

There are a few constants in the many years since I have been trying to write seriously. One, of course, is the struggle to find a time to write, which has varied over my years in college, medical school, residency training, and practice as a physician. Despite massive changes in technology—moving from spiral-bound notebooks to an electric typewriter to a primitive IBM PC with two floppy disk drives to various cranky Compacs, Gateways, and Dells, and finally to my current sleek MacBook Air—I...

In Nicholas Sparks’s A Walk to Remember, a virginal Jamie Sullivan has only a few years left to live. After much cantanker and conflicting interest, bad boy Landon falls in love with her, and she—after a time—reciprocates. Over the remainder of the narrative, the purity and power of her love calls forth his ambition and retunes his moral compass. The role of ambition in their love is...

For our year-end Salon meeting (please don’t call it Book Club), we members assigned ourselves the task of making dioramas of a scene from a favorite book. Here’s mine. Can you guess?

...

Amy Glynn gives us an excerpt from her in-progress essay collection "Knotweed, Bindweed, Crabgrass, Thorn: Field Notes on Making Your Bed and Lying in It, Bolting, Reaping What You Sow, and Other Useful Domestic Metaphors."

5.28

I see humanity now as one vast plant, needing for its highest
fulfillment only love, the natural blessings of the great
outdoors, and intelligent crossing and selection.

–...

As a soon-to-be graduate from the University of Northern Iowa's Bachelor of Fine Arts program in early 2007, I was only too delighted to receive an illustration request for the North American Review. Having studied under the art direction of Roy Behrens, I looked forward to contributing to the publication.

After reading and re-reading Steve...

The short story "Sea Dogs" published in the March-April 2007 issue of The North American Review is based in part on the year I ran away to Europe, helped build a schooner in Denmark, and crewed on her maiden Atlantic crossing in the tail end of hurricane season 1966. An Old Danish sailor who had sailed with us on the first leg of the voyage told the Danish newspapers that we would never see the West Indies alive. We were that incompetent. What if he were right? “...

One of the most salient revelations in The Great Gatsby, the origins of Jay Gatsby, née James Gatz, is embedded in Chapter 6 of the novel. We learn of Gatsby’s upbringing: a farm boy from North Dakota raised in poverty. He goes to college but drops out because he’s ashamed of having to support himself as a janitor.

Edward Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald’s father, whose wicker furniture business failed and who then lost a subsequent job with Proctor and Gamble, was reduced to living...

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