They brushed the snow from their eyelashes, and they looked out across the divide. It was hard to picture a steam engine here, grinding and huffing behind them, but the Major's notebooks were filling with inky measurements. He could see it. And what a view.
-These Imaginary Acts
Nicholas Maistros is an award-winning fiction writer whose work can be found in Best Small Fictions, Boston Review, The Baltimore Review, Witness, The Literary Review, Bellingham Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Nimrod, Cagibi, Sycamore Review, Sequestrum, The Write Launch, Washington Square Review, and Longleaf Review. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Colorado State University, where he taught courses in literature, composition, and drama. He has written two novels.
Nicholas has worked in Broadway merchandising, nonprofit finance, filmmaking, and food service. He lives with his partner in Dayton, Ohio.
With the observational acuity of Andrew Holleran and the menacing psychology of Ottessa Moshfegh, Desperate Living Creatures is a literary ghost story told by an imposturous narrator whose search for belonging imperils those he loves most.
Julian surrounds himself with performers—comedians, cartoonists, and opera singers in their early thirties who gather in Harlem apartments to convince themselves of their potential. Distracted by their dramas and day jobs, they don’t notice the police watchtowers monitoring them from every street corner. They wear masks, if they remember, to protect themselves from the smog that enshrouds the city. Without looking, they pass taxicab strikes and the camps of climate refugees on their daily commutes.
They don’t inquire too deeply about Julian’s degenerative illness, which slowly claims his body. They don’t ask where he’s from or why he’s hiding, and they don’t seem to notice Julian’s brother, who may or may not be dead, and whose ghost won’t stop reminiscing about the glorious crimes they committed together.
It isn’t until Addy Pruitt, the darling of Dustwick, Missouri, takes the room across the alley that Julian finds someone who might hear his confession. She is hiding too, Julian is sure of it, and when her past follows her to this choking city, it is Julian’s consequential action, or inaction, that will determine her fate.
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