Kate Axelrod

the law of loving others

“Axelrod’s prose is careful, intelligent, and contemplative, and the past-tense narration gives the impression of an older Emma looking back at a painful, but critical episode in her teenage years from a safe distance in the future…[A] reflective and incisive exploration of the far-reaching effects of mental illness.”
Publishers Weekly

Fiction

 

 

Dentist

Wigleaf
Dr. Roth held one side of Elena's mouth open between two gloved fingers, wiggled her cheek, then pushed the needle into her gums. She felt a quick, sharp ache and then just the bitter residue of Novocain. Full story.

Can You Please Tell Me What This Is Actually About

Jellyfish Review
When they fight, Laura stops recycling. It’s not as though Joe particularly cares about the environment. He takes long showers and drives when it’s just as easy to take the train or ride his bike, but she feels a particular satisfaction throwing a can of seltzer away or dumping a pile of newspapers into the trash. Full story.

 

At Full Capacity

Joyland
On their third date, Jack and Abby drive to Atlantic City. It’s eleven-thirty on a Wednesday night. Earlier in the evening they’d met at a bar in the West Village that masqueraded as a barber shop—complete with upright leather chairs and combs suspended in blue liquid—but the bathroom door opened into a darkened bar with velvet coated stools and black, textured wallpaper. Full story.

USB Port

Hobart
Peter wakes up first and texts me, hi baby, hi boo, hi honey pie. His residency shifts at the hospital are long: twelve to fourteen hours if he’s lucky. I text him periodically throughout the day even though he usually can’t respond. (I’m in the dumbest meeting with marketing, I’ll say, or, I just read a fascinating manuscript about women who helped break the Watergate story.) Full story.

 

My Exes’ Exes

Atticust Review
Ashley’s birthday was on April 20th, the same day as Hitler’s and Columbine and obviously four-twenty, which you observed like a national holiday. Her mother’s name was Marilyn and her family lived on Marilyn Place. Ashley was a really beautiful poet, you said. This was in the late ’90s and she loved Ani DiFranco. Sometimes you’d see her in the hallways and she’d be writing song lyrics on the white rubber of her Converse. Full story.

Both Joshes

Vol 1 Brooklyn
It was the fall after Erica and I graduated from college and I was sleeping with two guys who were both named Josh. They were also both allergic to cats, but otherwise they were nothing alike. Josh Leviton was extremely earnest and always wanted to “talk things out” or “process” and Josh Kaye was so incapable of having a direct conversation and sharing anything about himself, it sort of seemed like he was on the run or in the witness protection program, if that was even a thing anymore. Full story.

 

A Third Party

Cosmonauts Avenue
Charlie breaks up with you over the phone but later you fly to Seattle and insist he do it in person. The initial conversation had gone something like this: You were exasperated and said, What are we doing? It was meant to be somewhat rhetorical, but then he said, We’re breaking up. He said it as dispassionately as We’re getting Chinese take-out for dinner or We’re going bowling tonight.
Full story.

Comfort Pack

7x7
Lila’s older sister was dying. Or rather, she was in hospice. The requirement for which, was only that it was possible for Julia would die within the next 6 months. Lila took comfort in this; anyone could die within six months.
Full story.

 

My Father's Death is a Law School Graduate

JoyLand Magazine
I see her at the airport before she sees me — she alternates between checking her phone and looking around — and I feel a pang of affection or something like pity watching my mother in the wild this way. For the last three years we’ve only spent time together in controlled settings: my childhood home on the south shore of Long Island or a Chinese restaurant half a mile east on Sunrise Highway. Full story.

I Did It

Vol. I Brooklyn
I’m on the crosstown bus, on my way to work at the Japanese restaurant on Amsterdam. Peter and his brother are coming for dinner and I can’t decide if it’s a generous gesture or just a way to get free food. We hit traffic going through the park, stall beneath a brick overpass. The trees are lush and budding all around us. My fifth-grade science teacher told us there are a hundred and seventy-two species of trees in Central Park, and I don’t think I can name a single one; so much beauty that I don’t know how to classify. Full story.

 

Alice

Story Glossia
Alice writes three different versions of the letter. The last one is the most tempered, the most like her, but still it is such an unlike-her thing to do. The couple who lives above her has been disrupting her sleep nearly every night for the past three weeks. The woman's orgasms are fierce and operatic, high pitched and desperate. Full story.

So Long

New World Writing
Ana grinned as she walked toward him, weaving her way through the heavy traffic of Canal Street. Michael smiled and pretended to look something up on his phone. It was late May but Manhattan felt like a desert that day; blinding sunlight and a dry, brittle kind of heat. Full story.

 

One July

Wig Leaf
One July, Zachary and I drove a sixteen-foot truck through Texas. A fire had swept through a stretch of land outside of Odessa and within minutes it was as though we'd driven through each season. As if we were in the middle of one of those time lapse films of a city sped up; traffic on a freeway, quick streams of light, and then a whole day gone by in an instant. It was fall at first, the trees and grass turned into brush, all amber and brown. Full story.

 
 

Non-Fiction

 

 

I Hope You Stay Forever

Slate
The night we first kissed, Andrew and I were at a crowded bar in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The walls were painted maroon, and it was filled with college kids drinking craft beer out of stemmed glasses. Andrew had gotten a babysitter for his 3½-year-old daughter, Amaia. It was the first time he’d done so since his wife had died several months earlier. We sat on stools, opposite a tall mahogany table, and leaned toward each other. I had driven from Brooklyn, at his encouragement, so that we could talk in person. Full story.

The Condition that Shielded My Grandfather from Heartbreak

Long Reads
I sat in the Emergency Room with my grandmother on a cool night last June. Hours earlier, Sadie had stood up from the couch too quickly and fallen. She and my mother had been waiting at the hospital for much of the day. Sadie was bored but wouldn’t complain except to be dismissive of her own pain. This is all so dumb, she’d said when I arrived. I’m really fine, so unnecessary for you to come all the way uptown for this. Full story.

 

The Time My Grown-Up Novel Was Marketed As Young Adult

Literary Hub
My novel was initially pitched like this: Emma Bloom is a college student who returns home to Westchester during winter break to find that her mother is in the throes of a psychotic episode. Emma spends the next month learning how to navigate her mother’s illness and the impact it has on her life and her relationships. I wanted to explore the toll that mental illness takes on a family, and more generally, what it means to love somebody who is sick. Full story.

Alone Online

 Emily Books
I’d known Tom* peripherally for years. We’d run into each other at birthday parties, at unbearably crowded bars in the city, once outside of the train station in Greenpoint. But something shifted between us when we saw each other at a barbeque one balmy June night. I liked the slightly goofy lilt in his voice, his glasses – these thick round frames –and the way he seemed to be warmly attentive and making fun of me at the same time. Full story.

 

Henry

The Nervous Breakdown
Laura and I were sitting up front, and Henry was directly behind me. This was a couple of months ago and we were driving out to Westchester on a Monday afternoon. I was periodically checking on Henry through the rearview mirror. He was usually extremely talkative, bordering on manic, but his eyes kept closing shut and he was slipping in and out of sleep. Full story.

Eulogy 

The Nervous Breakdown
I had begun writing about other things these past few weeks. I was writing an essay about my grandmother, whom I love deeply, and whose eyes are beginning to fail her. I was writing about how she loved Anna Karenina and used to read it to her own grandmother, who was blind. I had also started writing about another client of mine, who suffered, not unlike Henry, from addiction and depression and various other afflictions. Full story.

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