The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: Bonnie ZoBell’s “What Happened Here”


Excerpt from Uncle Rempt

     He arrived from South Bend on a Thursday. Small and hunched over, Uncle Rempt had a bald spot on his crown shaped like the yin and yang symbol—a backward S in a circle, a dot of hair on each side.
     “Car trouble,” he said when he showed up at our place in Aloha, Washington. “I was on my way to a nifty little place a chum’s been telling me about in California—North Park—but I decided to swing by Aloha and see my baby brother first.” Here he smiles at my dad. “Had to play tuba at a roadside joint to buy the new radiator. How are you doing, missy?” he said, turning toward me. Though shy, I couldn’t help laughing, at least until my father glanced my way. “You must be Susan.”
     “Ever tell you about my old pal Neil?” Uncle Rempt asked Dad. “Navy pal, until he shipped up to Pendleton, then stayed on in Cali, married his sweetheart Sabrina and had two sons. The four of them live in this sweet little piece of heaven, warm and balmy all year round.” Looking at me, he added, “I hear the two boys skateboard everywhere they go.”
     “You gonna sell crystals?” my kid brother Brad, fourteen, said with his best you-some-kind-of-idiot? sneer. I was nineteen, and we all knew about the colorful rock crystals Uncle Rempt was so crazy about. Even if my dad didn’t talk to him, we’d heard rumors from our grandparents.
     “Yep,” Rempt went on, as if there were no awkwardness, “thought I’d get myself a little shop here in town for a while, see some family, save a little cash. Then I’ll be moving on to North Park.”

This selection comes from Bonnie Zobell’s collection What Happened Here, available from Press 53. Purchase your copy here!

Bonnie ZoBell won first place in the 2015 Next Generation Indie Press Award in the Novella category for her linked collection with Press 53, What Happened Here: a novella and stories. Her fiction chapbook The Whack-Job Girls was published in March 2013. She’s won a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in fiction, the Capricorn Novel Award, and a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award. She’s received fellowships at The MacDowell Colony, the Corporation of Yaddo, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, Villa Montalvo, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. She has an MFA from Columbia University, currently teaches at San Diego Mesa College and is working on a novel. Visit her at 

Sarah Einstein is the author of Mot: A Memoir (University of Georgia Press 2015), Remnants of Passion (Shebooks 2014). Her essays and short stories have appeared in The Sun, Ninth Letter, PANK and other journals. Her work has been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Best of the Net, and the AWP Prize in Creative Nonfiction. She is also the prose editor for Stirring: A Literary Collective and the special projects editor for Brevity Magazine. She is a professor of creative writing at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.



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