I love One Story. It’s a fantastic literary magazine that appears about once every three weeks and contains–you guessed it–only one story. While a larger lit mag might be weighed down with sub-par filler material, there’s nothing extra dragging One Story down. I look forward to every issue. Each one only takes about one subway ride to read.

The most recent issue, which I received in the mail on Saturday, is the best yet. It contains the first published story by Amelia Kahaney. Called “Fire Season,” it truly heralds the arrival of a powerful, new talent. In the story, a thirteen-year-old girl name Marni realizes that she has grown out of her awkward stage and is now, suddenly, beautiful. Dressing in clothing from her mother’s singles-bar days, she pursues a cruel and distant boy named Pablo and shakily inflicts her burgeoning sexuality on Roger, her most recent surrogate father. All of the action occurs amidst the backdrop of a California subdivision threatened by an advancing wildfire.

What makes Kahaney’s writing so viscerally real is its depiction of a young teenage girl who hasn’t yet grown into her sexual power. Marni and Pablo are vicious, attacking each other in the pool and hurling rocks with the express purpose of bruising one another. Kahaney renders the masochism of early adolescent love and lust unflinchingly. This piece is everything that the contemporary short story is not: the characters are not refined, New York intellectuals, and it’s never self-consciously quirky. Tom Wolfe once wrote that all New Yorker stories are about “inchoate longing.” This was, of course, hyperbole, but this sort of genteel story is just as common today as it was in the ’60s. “Fire Season” is not about inchoate longing; it’s about the kind of longing so consuming that it induces violence and incites destruction.

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