Like many young people, Heidi Julavits kept a diary. Decades later she found her old diaries in a storage bin and hoped to discover the early evidence of the person (and writer) she'd since become. Instead, "The actual diaries revealed me to possess the mind of a paranoid tax auditor." The entries are daily chronicles of anxieties about grades, looks, boys, and popularity. After reading the confessions of her past self, writes Julavits, "I want to good-naturedly laugh at this person. I want to but I can't."
A few weeks later, an unharmed Mary reappears as suddenly and mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming to have little memory of what happened to her. Her mother, concerned that Mary has somehow been sullied by the experience, sends her to therapy with a psychologist.
"hyper radiant girl liar"
Julia Severn is a student at an elite institute for psychics. Her mentor, the legendary Madame Ackermann, afflicted by jealousy, subjects Julia to the humiliation of reliving her mother's suicide when Julia was an infant. As the two lock horns, and Julia gains power, Madame Ackermann launches a desperate psychic attack that leaves Julia the victim of a crippling ailment. But others have noted Julia's emerging gifts, and soon she's recruited to track down an elusive missing person who might have a connection to her mother.
"i didn't hate it but i didn't love it"
In the drought-ridden spring of 1934, Bena Jonnsen, her husband Ted, and their newborn baby relocate from their home in Minnesota to Pueblo, a Western plains town plagued by suffocating dust storms and equally suffocating social structures. Little can thrive in this bleak environment, neither Bena and Ted's marriage nor the baby, whom Bena believes - despite her husband's constant assurances - is slipping away from her.
This piece, set in the year 2024, follows the lovelorn travails of a hapless member of the Hungarian surveillance apparatus.