Hi Everyone,

I’m excited to share my interview with Sara Majka about the title short story, “Cities I’ve Never Lived In.” Here’s a brief description of the collection from the publisher Graywolf Press:

“Fearlessly riding the line between imagination and experience, fact and fiction, the linked stories in Sara Majka’s debut collection offer intimate glimpses of a young New England woman whose life must begin afresh after a divorce. Traveling the roads of Maine and the train tracks of Grand Central Station, moving from vast shorelines to the unmade beds of strangers, these fourteen stories circle the dreams of a narrator who finds herself turning to storytelling as a means of working through the world and of understanding herself. A book that upends our ideas of love and belonging, and which asks how much of ourselves we leave behind with each departure we make, Cities I’ve Never Lived In exposes, with great sadness and great humor, the ways in which we are most of all citizens of the places where we cannot stay.”

Before you listen to our discussion, first please read “Cities I’ve Never Lived In” here.

Then enjoy our discussion here on Anchor:


Or here on Spotify:


Or wherever you get your podcasts!



Sara Majka


When she was young, Sara Majka’s family moved along the New England coast, living in Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and small towns in Maine. She received graduate degrees from Umass-Amherst and Bennington College and was awarded a fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her first book, Cities I’ve Never Lived In, was published by Graywolf Press / A Public Space in 2016. She lives in Providence, Rhode Island where she teaches writing at RISD.

Sara Majka’s book can be purchased here on Bookshop and here on Amazon as well as directly from the publisher, Graywolf Press.

Upcoming shows:

June 1st: Ellen Birkett Morris

July 1st: Rion Amilcar Scott

July 15th: Maurine Ogbaa

August 1st: Selena Anderson

September 1st: Jacob M. Appel

October 1st: Peter Ho Davies

November 1st: Peter Orner

December 1st: Toni Ann Johnson


Vancouver author Alix Ohlin among five finalists for 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers' Trust Fiction Prize | Georgia Straight Vancouver's News & Entertainment Weekly


Hi Everyone,


“Let’s Deconstruct a Story” is a podcast for the story nerds–those who know that examining the components of a good story is the key to writing one. In each episode, I interview a writer about one of their own stories, delving deeply into their choice of POV, plot, setting, and tone. The stories are available for listeners to read (below) before they listen to our discussion.

This week, I’m talking to Alix Ohlin about her story “Quarantine” which was first published in The New Yorker, in 2017, and then later in her 2021 short story collection, We Want What We Want.

First please read the story “Quarantine” in The New Yorker here.

This story should be free and accessible (you may have to enter your email address) but if you have any issues, please click here.

If you would like a transcript of our discussion, please feel free to contact me as well.

Here’s the podcast on Spotify and Anchor.




A link to Alix Ohlin’s essay in Lithub on How to Map the Shape of your Short Story, which we mention in our discussion.

A link to a portion of the Charles Baxter essay about the request moment.

Ohlin also mentioned this book by Joan Silber, The Art of Time.

Bio: Alix Ohlin is the author of six books, including the novel, Dual Citizens, which was short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Short Stories, and many other places. Her 2021 short story collection, We Want What We Want, was shortlisted for the 2021 Atwood Gibson Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. She lives in Vancouver, where she is the director of the UBC School of Creative Writing.

Alix Ohlin’s books are available on Bookshop here or on Amazon here.


Thanks also to Andrew Mason at Upwork for some help with editing this episode.



I’m pausing “Let’s Deconstruct a Story until January 15th to have time to download and edit some previously recorded videos. Next season look forward to an outstanding line-up including Toni Ann Johnson and Caitlin Horrocks among others.

I’ll send more information sometime in December!

I’m including a donation button on my website these days because I am saving up for podcast equipment. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast but have noticed the audio quality is not always top-notch, it’s because I am dealing with old headphones and a free editing program. I am flying by the seat of my pants!

At the same time, as fellow writers, I’m sure you know how little we make in this business, so it will take me a while to save up for the equipment.

If you feel like donating, I would greatly appreciate it. Every little bit helps! Thanks!