Pecker was a prize from the shooting gallery at the traveling funfair, a batshit rooster that roosted in the apple tree in our yard. Pecker had the look of the just-saved, and his neck-wrung feathers, sparse, spiked, seeming wet, suited the bird’s mean disposition. He was hardly a prize – more likely a giveaway at the bucket-ball stall before the carnival folk moved on. Someone must have taken the rooster for a hen and expected fresh eggs when the rooster wasn’t even good at rooster things. He crowed at night and woke our mother – woke us, too. Wait for the sun, you pecker! If only he were good eating, our father said, but Pecker would have tasted foul – ha, ha. Our father, the joker, said Pecker was good for a laugh. That Pecker. His comb looked chawed and his red eyes mad. Try to cross the yard – our backyard – and he would flap down and scuttle after and peck at our legs and our feet. And it hurt – he picked our little sister’s laces loose and made her cry.
Isis in Darkness
Margaret Atwood presents a man pining for his lost love over decades.
Do Not Say We Have Nothing
An extract from Madeleine Thien‘s Man-Booker shortlisted novel.
Zulu Romeo Foxtrot
Douglas Coupland on rock-star font Helvetica.
In Sight of the Lake
A women looks for control in a story by Alice Munro.
A mildewed dystopia from Camilla Grudova.
‘Those who have been rejected come out with tears in their eyes, ashamed, folding the piece of paper with diagrams explaining why their blood isn’t right for the sacrifice.’