"The State Of The Union, 1998" by Alison Espach

We are very excited to present work from our readers at next week’s Augury Books & Friends offsite AWP reading/shindig in Seattle. The reading will be at Noble Neon, 3130 Airport Way S on Friday, February 28th from 7:30 until we all feel like going back to our hotels. If you’ll be in Seattle, please join us! Afterwards we can all go dance at the VIDA party.


This is an excerpt from Alison Espach’s “The State Of The Union, 1998”


It is 1998, and everybody we know has moved to Florida.  Everybody we know is obsessed with their porch. The president is always on TV. He won’t leave us alone.

Our leadership in the world is unrivaled, Bill Clinton says.  Ladies and gentlemen, the state of our union is strong.

The President has bags under his eyes.

I am taking notes. Mrs. Klausterman is going to quiz us on the State of the Union first thing in social studies.  She said, “Write down anything you feel is important,” though I know from experience that everything I think is important usually turns out not to be important, so I decide to be safe and write down everything.

The President seems very tired.

But this is not a time to rest.

My brothers are playing Bloody Knuckles on the couch.  The point of the game is always to see who can stomach being the bloodiest, the longest.  Usually, nobody can.  It is the only game my brothers and I play where at some point, we all agree it’s better to lose.

My mother sips a gin and tonic, sitting Japanese-style on the floor. She looks like we do when we are watching Wheel of Fortune after dinner, noses close to the screen. She sits like this, so close to him, as though they are on a date.

It is a time to build a new America!

And find cures for diabetes.

(and AIDS!!!)

It’s no secret: my mother wants to fuck the President. These were my father’s exact words, last night, when my parents thought we had gone to sleep.

“It certainly is our business,” my mother said. “The president’s character is our business.”

“You only say that because he’s the only president you’ve ever wanted to fuck,” my father said.

I seized with panic in the stairwell. I had no idea there were people in this world who wanted to fuck the president. Fucking the President, I think, sounds like a kind of crime.  Something you should get arrested for.

Alison Espach is the author of the novel The Adults. The Adults was a Wall Street Journal Top 10 Novel of 2011, New York Times Editors’ Choice, Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and Chicago Tribune #1 Reader Recommendation.   Alison’s other writing has appeared in Salon, the Daily Beast, Lincoln Center Theater Review, Fiction Writer’s Review, Del Sol Review, Sentence, and others.