Signs and Wonders
Alix Ohlin
“The Assistants”

“The Assistants” is from Alix Ohlin’s collection, SIGNS AND WONDERS (Vintage), published on the same day as her novel, INSIDE (Knopf).  She is also the author of THE MISSING PERSON, a novel, and BABYLON AND OTHER STORIES.  Her work has appeared in Best American Short StoriesBest New American Voices, and on public radio’s Selected Shorts.  She teaches at Lafayette College and in the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.


Ohlin said this about “The Assistants:” This story began, alas, with news of the death of a friend.  I hadn’t seen him in many years but suddenly I missed him terribly.  We had worked together as assistants in New York long ago, then gotten back in touch, as so often happens these days, via Facebook.  The specific events described in the story are made up, but the feelings of nostalgia, connection, and loss stem from life.  Writing the story made me remember my romance with New York as a young person, as well as some of the reasons I wound up moving away.


My friend’s Facebook page is still active, and sometimes I get email from his account, which has been hacked.  I find it both ghostly and strangely comforting to see his name on my screen.

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