In 2012, we established Ploughshares Solos, a digital-first series for longer stories and essays, which is edited by Ploughshares Editor-in-Chief Ladette Randolph. New Solos are published regularly and are available for download on your Kindle, Nook, iPad, or Kobo.
Living under the shadow of two gifted parents, Astrid Nordling feels trapped everywhere but at the piano, finding solace in Schubert and Debussy. Her piano teacher is convinced that she is a prodigy; her mother is not so sure. Set in 1960s Chicago, this excerpt from Lisa Heiserman Perkins' upcoming novel shows that there can be such a thing as too much talent in a single family.
As the Second World War rages in Europe, two undergraduates in Tennessee work a summer job for a celebrated poetry professor, W. T. Harlan, as he supervises the clearing of a ravine to make a garden. At their side is a German POW, watched by military guard, who has been sent to help them with their task.
Sophie Forrest writes horror stories because she sees faces in the walls; men with their heads in their laps materialize in front of her when she's trying to enjoy her cafe creme; her former lover is marrying someone else amid oyster brunches and tennis matches.
When Tara Marconi leaves South Philadelphia on a whim to travel to Alaska for a job in a salmon hatchery, she quickly learns the cardinal rule on Baranof Island: "Work longer and harder than the person, usually male, beside you. And you'll do fine." Eager to prove herself, Tara works her way up at a cannery, studies subsistence with a native Tlingit hunter and gatherer, and earns a job on a boat crew. One by one, she finds that all of them want more from her than she is willing to give.
Even with a successful career as a lawyer and a beautiful wife, Tony Greto is tormented by his secrets--secrets that finally begin to surface at his 25th high school reunion.
Josh Cooper won Rookie of the Year in 1972 and was out of the majors by 1973, his pitching career ended by a sharp line drive up the middle. After moving back to his hometown of Beaufort, South Carolina, he has been pleasantly wasting his life for over three decades when a young woman shows up, claiming to be his daughter from one of many one-night stands.
In this gripping and wide-ranging essay, Nadelson deals with his grief after the premature death of a close friend, coupled with the joy accompanying the birth of his first child. Everything he now does—from caring for his daughter to wandering the streets of his run-down neighborhood in Oregon—starts to feel like a betrayal.
Timi, a boy in Uzbekistan, navigates a strange world of camel breeding, half-understood Islamic doctrine, Mexican soap operas dubbed into Uzbek, and the legacy of widespread pollution from the Soviet era, all while dreaming of doing death-defying stunts on his rickety motorcycle. Lonely and accident-prone, Timi befriends an American humanitarian worker in a struggling marriage, tries to avoid his father's frequent rages, and plans out the astonishing motorcycle jump that will give meaning to
In 1924, hoping to cure his illness, Franz Kafka traveled to a sanatorium in Kierling, Austria, run by a Dr. Hugo Hoffman. He would spend his last days there. In Robert Cohen’s story, we see the end of Kafka’s life through Dr. Hoffman’s eyes. The doctor attempts to decipher the dying man’s enigmatic communications, scribbled on scraps of paper, while being harried by Kafka’s friend, Klopstock, and a young woman who has fallen in love with the then-unknown writer.
“A mathematician,” G. H. Hardy wrote, “like a painter or a poet, is a maker of patterns." Throughout his childhood, Jim Tilley was encouraged to discover such patterns through the mathematical puzzles his father posed for him to solve. Never satisfied with ordinary solutions, his father insisted on mathematical elegance. Always more comfortable in the realm of the mind, he could never bring himself to give Tilley a hug; they'd merely shake hands on parting.